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  • Writer's picturejeffrey zajac

in search of lost time (prague '92)

" The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there."

- L.P. Hartley, The Go Between

robin joined maria and i in bicycling from our apartment this morning, here they are in back of me as we are heading out from our neighborhood.

our plan was to bike to Radotin, an area outside of prague on the river. was chilly and very windy, biked along the river for a bit, on the A2 cycle path, which is a straight shot south.

we passed an old, abandoned ice house on the way.

once past the golf course and nude beach (empty, too cold!), we decided to change course and go inwards towards prague 4, away from the river, taking the A201 cycleway towards Modrany, in the depths of prague 4, a bus and metro ride away from where we now live in prague 1.

on august 26, 1992, we arrived in prague for the first time, as english teachers, and were given a room the 13th floor of Dúm Učitelu Modřany, a hotel style residence for teachers, foreigners and czechs alike. we last saw that building in july 1993. today, we saw it again. below are maria and i in front of the sad nude sculpture, now spray painted silver, as opposed to the former communist black.

our former home for a year is in the background. we tried to go up to the 13th floor, but could not, it's now a sort of SRO place for foreign workers, mostly working in construction, which consist largely of ukranians and russians. there also appears to be some sort of business school there as well.

it was emotional for me arriving there after all this time. the statute appeared smaller than i remember. the communist era potraviny (grocery store) to the right is now a modern Billa chain store. when we lived there, if you arrived and it was busy, with no plastic shopping baskets available in the front, they prevented you from entering and shopping.

the restaurant out of view to the left is now completely redone. used to be, in colder weather, there was a heavy woolen blanket you had to force yourself through to get in the door, after which you drowned in cigarette smoke, causing us to leave on more than one occasion back then.

it's a pretty shot out place now, despite the updated store and restaurant. strangely empty of people (august on a saturday may be the cause here), with dodgy characters hanging about. foreign workers, underpaid, and not much to do, maybe.

we walked to the back of our old place, robin posing below amidst the graffiti.

and then headed back, on the bucolic cycle path back to the center of town

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I was there!

Jeff was 'takin me back'

(to the 'dum' (actually pronounced 'doom', not 'dumb' ;))

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