Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Ex-pat blog

My parents aren't internet savvie and would never read this blog if it required them to go online. This is a shame because it looks as though their age and heath will prevent them from ever visiting my Czech home and seeing through their own eyes this lovely country. And so at Christmas I printed out the blog, bound it and gave it to them as a present. Every month they get an update with the latest posts. They have really enjoyed these vicarious journeys to the Czech Republic. And the readership does not stop there, the blog has been lent to various friends.

The feedback so far has been universally positive, not that my parents' friends would criticise I'm sure. One comment that has been made several times – is how much the love I have for this place and the Czechs comes through the blog. I'm glad, that was to some extent my intention. Not that love is blind, I certainly can see the flaws in my second homeland but I hope that even in this I do not judge too harshly.

I really have problems with those travel books and blogs, which treat the locals as something to laugh at or which find fault. I see it sometimes in fellow British ex-pats or visitors, complaining that you can't get marmite in the shops or criticising Czech customer service, making generalisations about things of which they have only limited experience or understanding. We are guests here in another people's country and should behave as such. It betrays a superiority based on ignorance and insularity, which I fear the British are very good at. But I do not doubt that I too am guilty of this on occasion, as I fumble my way towards an understanding of the Czechs (and perhaps of my own nation). I therefore ask those Czechs who read this blog to forgive me when I get it wrong. I rely on your ability to laugh at yourselves, a characteristic which our two nations share.


Philip Wilkinson said...

Yes, we're very good at ignorance and insularity. Your blog is a wonderful corrective to this, with its openness to new experience, its genuine appreciation of the ways of others, and its love of another country. Keep it up.

Anonymous said...

I just stumbled over your blog by accident - Im not reading blogs at all ! But you catched me(like a bulldog does) and drived me through your blog in one night. I got night off to recuperate over my runny nose and with that horrible headache conjoined caused by one cold night shift in windy Severn Side in Avonmouth delivery center as a shonter with no heated room to hide from creaping wet cold with wind-chills.
So ... I just wanted to tell you thanks for sharing your experience that I could have learned more about you Brits.
And dont worry thou I was sometimes feeling the urge to think - why does she just thinks that ?? - then I just swallowed my czech pride(and in one occasion- your experience with czech unwillingness to fight for anything I just nodded my head) and said to myself - she is just trying to apprehend the czech way in it, by looking through a different culture set of eyes. Same as Im sometimes standing here, in South Gloucestershire, with my "czech filtered" eyes unable to gather and just asking: why, why, why ???
And then I just say to myself almost identical sentence to the yours - "Im just foreign guy trying to put in use what I had learned before or came upon before and trying to imply it now on others.No, stop that now !"
So its truth that is much better to open the eyes more wide but also at same time shut your mouth up and listen to find out more. Living in other's people country can be sometimes so difficult, but definitely its experience worth going through.
P.S.: After going through the Dobry den/Na shledanou rutine do you now understand our confusion with brittish alright/alright greeting when hello is just what it takes when you dont know the person as yet ?
P.S.n2: I hope I havent made Gordian knot while trying to explain my gratitude for your hard job you have taken by writting this blog.
P.S.n3: Definitely SVEJK !

potok said...

Thank you so much Anonymous for your kind comment. It makes writing this blog all worth while. I hope your time in my homeland is a good one and you come to some understanding of us weird Brits!

PS Avonmouth can be very cold - that wind sweeping in from the sea. What the Brits would call "bracing" and think a good thing.


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