on the day of my arrival to central europe it was eleven degrees and it was raining hard. in the last two weeks we’ve gone through autumn, spring and finally summer. today it is more than thirty degrees, sunny, hot. but the humidity is missing and I am feeling okay. at the moment I don’t have a permanent home so I am moving between friends’ houses. sleeping on a couch or in a sleeping bag has never bothered me. in fact, I love the spontaneity and I don’t mind. I have abandoned the piece I started writing in textedit at the airport terminal in istanbul and instead I placed my attention back to notebooks. I keep buying cheap paperbacks at shakespeare & sons my favorite bookstore located at the heart of kampa park. yesterday I purchased kipling’s kim. immediately I wished I was in india. I cannot stop the train of my thoughts, I cannot stop wishing I were on the road constantly, always moving between neighborhoods cities countries continents. there is a traveler’s cafe on the right side of vltava; they promote themselves by offering a free drink to anyone who has passport stamps from four different continents. only I keep forgetting to bring my passport with me. only I keep forgetting where I am from.
I am writing this in a study room in a summerhouse in southern bohemia not far away from prague in czech republic in central europe in – words have been pouring out of me the entire evening and I am unable to stop. this is the first weekend in the last two weeks that I’ve stayed in the same place for two days. my mind is already restless. but. I am enjoying my time here. in the middle of woods and forests, riding a bike before dinner that consists of pancakes with marmalade and a cup of hot tea. every time the clock rings I jump up. I am never ready for it. I have been listening to music and writing for three or four hours now, my eyes are getting tired, my neck sore. and I keep thinking of the future, of my future journeys, of endless hours on the train, of all those words I haven’t written yet. in front of me is a notebook that I’ve been scribbling notes into. train departures, currency conversions, flight dates, story ideas and outlines of perfect sentences that are yet to be. and all I am thinking that this is what my life is supposed to be like. living out of the suitcase, writing, embracing the restlessness. because that’s who I am. one thing I love the most about being away from electrical devices is time that is all of a sudden free. I can read for hours, I can take pictures, I can write, I can go for a bike ride, I can wander, I can visit places I haven’t been to yet, I can visit places that are so familiar, I can have a glass of wine. without feeling guilty. and tomorrow is another day.
arrival in istanbul at five in the morning. first cup of coffee at gloria jean’s. arriving in prague a few hours later. my home for the following week becomes the same house where my mother and later both my parents used to live more than twenty years ago. watching television at night in that small aparment downstairs knowing I used to sleep in the next room as a six month old baby is a strange but a nice feeling at the same time. going back to the airport on the same day to pick up a friend who flew down to prague from england just to visit me. but he wouldn’t admit that. dinner with friends, a couple of drinks on a balcony, watching the sunset. picking up warm baggles and bottled milk in the same fifty year old bakery. taking the tram downtown, stopping for a cup of coffee at gloria jean’s at malostranska. during the first week it became a habit. walking around, taking pictures. eating hot dogs for lunch and dinner because in prague they are just that good. taking a bus to a town a hundred kilometers away to see one of my oldest friends. and what could have been my only love, but only remained the first one. now that I’ve written it out here it seems as if I’ve broken some unspeakable something. but that’s just the way it is. he and his best friend picked me up at the bus station, we purchased the basics at a supermarket and spent the night with a group of friends at their summerhouse. it was an amazing night and I suppose a single night like that every two years is all we need really.
I took the same bus back to prague to meet with friends from aberdeen, amsterdam and decin. three white russians and a couple of hours worth of life stories and laughs. old town is beautiful at night and even more so the prague castle. it glows in its entire majesty and greatness. the first week it was cold and rained often so I spent a couple of afternoons in the cinema. horrible bosses, the lincoln lawyer, rise of the planet of the apes (twice) and conan the barbarian. somewhere in the middle of the week I gave up on buying transport tickets. many afternoons are spent with kryspin. it’s been really great knowning him. I met a poet from california in nerudova street, we had a drink together and shared thoughts on plath, yeats and capek’s literature. later as I walked up the street to prague castle I shared a few words with a boy from aruba. it was an incredible night. prague glowing, tourists taking pictures, people laughing. then there was a night of gypsy music with old friends from all over the world, visits to kafka’s birthplace, walking around vysehrad thinking how little has changed. vaclavske namesti is scary at night but nothing can surprise me anymore. as we sat behind the national theatre a drunken boy from slovakia approached us, we drank, laughed together. and then I lost him on the way home. his yellow cardigan shining in the flicker of old street lamps.
lunches, coffees, dinners around the city with various people. meeting with childhood friends after too many years. realizing how fast the time passes, realizing we’re getting old. evening on the balcony with homemade pizza, nirvana and eric clapton’s unplugged, a bottle of medovina and shisha. listening to and sitting in silence. sleeping on couches and in sleeping bags. taking the train from and to the city. listening to music, writing in a notebook spread out on my knees. beeping of the metro doors closing. spending an afternoon at letna; a park where I first held a tennis racquet. walking through kampa park every day; a park where I grew up. afternoons at shakespeare & sons. drinking mulled wine while sitting on a sidewalk looking up the charles bridge and watching people pass me by. long walks through the night, jumping on the tram at three am. glowing cathedrals and dark alleys. bike rides through the white mountain neighbourhood and through the woods of southern bohemia. reading extremely loud & incredibly close by jonathan safran foer, thinking him and nicole are the same person. loving the book, falling asleep whilst watching the stars on the night sky. which is something I haven’t witnessed for many long months.
to be continued.
ever since I found these photographs a few days ago, I cannot stop looking at them. every once in a while I open up the folder and quickly browse through them. and every time I do, this wave of sadness and nostalgia comes over me. I regret not having photographs of my own. maybe a few but they do not depict the atmosphere that I remember from our days in prague. these photographs.. they convey it all. the mood, the memories, even the warmth of late summer afternoons. I cannot count how many times I stood on this bridge, looking at the water flowing beneath me, occasionally there would be a group of ducks or swans passing by. on the other side, there is a wooden watermill that I have always been afraid of, because they convinced me that’s where the devil lives. I’ve spent countless of hours and days around this area and the Kampa Park.
rainy chilly afternoons, usually sometime in early autumn. during that period of transition between summer and fall. rain would be frequent, cold and gray. on those days I liked to hide in the cinema or a bookshop, occasionally I would sit a coffee shop or a restaurant with my family or friends. for some reason, I am thinking of those rainy afternoons spent in the slovanskÃ½ dÅ¯m kogo restaurant. in my rememories it seems that every time I went there it was raining. that’s just how I remember it right now. coffee, pasta with tomatoes, evian water, long walks around and eventually we’d make a stop in the paris street for a dessert. do you remember that rainy afternoon we hid in the sedmÃ© nebe cafÃ© and just talked about everything and nothing throughout the afternoon? I miss that afternoon. the right side of the river has always been more important to me than the left one. of course, it depends where you are looking from.
the left side of the river is also magnificent, though. and I suppose I’ve spent equal amounts of time on both sides. La Bodeguita del Medio, ending of the Charles Bridge, KFC, little hidden streets, and endless restaurants everywhere. whenever I am back, my favorite thing is to walk from one side of the river to the other and explore my favorite parts of the city as if I’ve never been there before. and in a way, sometimes it feels like it. as if I am exploring everything for the first time. except memories are hidden in every corner, every street and every park. I could write novels and make three hour films about these memories. and perhaps, one day I will. it’s overwhelming.
and this one. memories just flood in when I look at this photograph. Kampa Park. hundreds of afternoons have been spent around here, I sat on these benches so often they probably remember me. when I was still in elementary school, all of spring, summer and autumn was spent in this park. riding my yellow bicycle, learning how to roller-skate. that famous piece of concrete were a james bond film was shot, that’s where I finally learned how to skate on my own. we used to collect chestnuts there, eat ice cream as we walked towards the john lennon wall. I have never left a piece of me there, but I already know that in the future I will definitely stop by there and leave a note. I feel like I should. and one of these red cafÃ©s makes the best shopska salad in the world.
obviously, I cannot wait until I go back.