The Harder they Come

cliff_jimmyThis was a great weekend – not least because I spent it in Budapest. In order to leave Prague, however, there are many rivers to cross, as Jimmy Cliff would have it. The first is the magnetic force field beamed out from underneath the Rudolfinum. Oh yes, what you thought was just another innocuous “little Europe” monument to the cultural achievements of dead Germans is actually an insidious disguise for a massive electromagnet. Stay here for 2 years and you’re bound to consume enough beer to gather a critical mass of lead in your gut. The power of beer and the electromagnet compels you to remain within grumbling distance of the Rudolfinum at all times. The other hurdle is the authentic road rage which is quickly taking over Czech “culture”. On the way out of town, we witnessed one of the most hilarious examples I’ve ever seen in my life.

Honza was queuing to ride the Magistrala right beneath Hlavni Nadrazi when Honza cut him off. This was a funny operation, and I’m not sure what precipitated it. Maybe Honza1 was on his phone and somehow missed his chance to aggressively advance the 5 meters between himself and the next car – I don’t know. All I know is that Honza2 sped around him and cut him off, thus gaining 5 meters in the race to join the gridlock on the magistrala. Honza1 really didn’t like this, so he did the sensible thing – he RAMMED HONZA2’S manager mobile from behind. Honza2, of course, was brimming over with righteous indignation and decided to retaliate in the manner he knows best – he rammed Honza1 in reverse! The ramming was getting furious now, and manager-mobile bumpers were cracking. I got to see all of this because the traffic on the road hey were trying to join was at a dead standstill. Finally, Honza2 jumped out of his car, as did Honza1. They met each other in the middle as I fumbled for my iPhone’s magnificent 5-minute loading camera feature.

Now where I’m from, a display like that would have led to blows. It would have led to a number of blows, in fact, as their hugging battle raged out into the middle of the highway. The enraged Honzas carried on like 4 year olds for about 3 minutes, gripping each other in bear hugs that looked suspiciously nonaggressive. It was like a music video, and I even contemplated switching my still-loading camera app to the iPhone app and playing an REM song at peak volume for the benefit of all. After a few rounds of hugging and swaying, the Honzas got back into their cars and WAITED with everyone else. What is this place coming to, honestly? The city is in near-total gridlock every day and this sort of thing is only going to become more and more common. How long before a Honza ends up falling down and staining his good jacket? How long before a manager-mobile is truly damaged? Sad, and funny, but mostly sad. Vitay-tay.

The weekend passed in Budapest like some sort of weird dream – it was warm, the people were friendly and the roads seemed oddly empty. I realized later that this was due to the city planning, which involves creating a huge, 4 block-wide pedestrian zone in the center of the city, roughly from Gerbaud over to the end of Vaci Ut.  Those crazy Magyars, what will they think of next – repairing and updating public transport? Everyone knows public transport is for losers and the detestable poor.

Back in Prague, I hopped on my bike this morning to race down to Gattaca and was immediately reminded of where I was and how unimportant my life is to the commuting Honzaic hordes. Turning down to Karlin from the Husitska intersection, I heard the roar of Honza unfulfilled behind me. Sure enough, the horn started up a second later, even though there was exactly 5 meters between me and the car in front. This time, I refused to pull over – not least because the road there has more holes in it than a Romanian whorehouse. I rode down to the next light with traffic, then circled around to speak with my buddy, who’d been tailing me the whole way. Rather than my usual mode of engagement – waiting for them to say something with a grin on my face – I decided to join in the national mood: “Keep honking at me and I’ll drag your monkey ass out of that car and break every bone in your face!” Honza quickly rolled up his window and drove off as the light changed, so maybe I’m on to something. Nothing like adding a little more misery to the world, huh? One and all 😉

I missed bike polo this weekend, which is a shame.

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~ by themicah on October 26, 2009.

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