- -  Day # 295  + +

EU > Czech Republic > Karlovy Vary

First things first

Karlovy Vary, CZ (View on map)

In Czech Republic as much as in Hungary, questions about `ambition` and `inspiration` lead to shy smiles and superficial answers. While communism erased personal dreams by the nature of its ideology, the current situation makes people almost voluntarily forget about their dreams, at the expense of longing for money and authority.

Ondrej (25):

`I get annoyed at people`s indifference when it comes to the problems of others`
Like in many former communist countries, life in current day Czech Republic seems to be measured along a scale with two extremes and no options in the middle: winners and losers. Being a winner ? or even more: not being a loser ? seem to be more important than having personal ideas, dreaming of something grant or enjoying whatever it is you are working on. On top of that, many people hate to see their supreme ideal ? material wealth ? chased by others as well. It`s not even the competition that is felt as frustrating; it`s the general atmosphere that it creates.

Young Czechs not only reject the political developments in their country, they also cite it over and over again a major waste-my-day phenomenon. Teresa (20) also gets angry at hasty and nervous people, especially the ones who are not patient enough to wait for their turns. `I like to go to Prague, I like to go shopping or to be out in nature`, she adds. Eva (29) is happy when she feels the love of her boyfriend and her family. She refuses to get angry about anything, because she finds it pointless.

Ondrej (25, photo) is frustrated at the sight of many actively indifferent people. `If you would lie down in the streets, wounded or with whatever kind of problem, people will just walk by. You are not there problem and they don`t even pretend to care about you. This country is run by money and if something isn`t generating money, it doesn`t seem to be worth thinking about. Politicians are the worst of all. They care only about themselves, their pockets and their secrets.` Ondrej prefers to be surrounded by people who are satisfied and do not join the rush for money. Sunshine also helps him feel good, despite the fact that such weather only occurs during two months of the year.

Martina (17) gets happy when she meets new people and if the people around her are happy. She is not happy about the many Russian people who have `hi-jacked` Karlovy Vary, leaving no more affordable space for Czech people to live there. `Our neighbours are Russian and they are extremely arrogant and selfish. They speak a little bit of Czech, but they don`t say hello or anything.`

Inspiring examples
Silvia (20) is happy when she passes her exams at university, or when she gets home to see her family and friends. `I am studying history and enjoying that lots. I don`t know what exact profession I will end up doing after graduating, but it will probably be quite easy to find a job.` Silvia gets temporarily unhappy when she does not pass her exams or when the weather is nice and she has to be at uni.

Martin (27) can get annoyed by people who are wasting his time by being inefficient and unproductive. Politics and delayed trains will also get him angry. Martin doesn`t like to be in a position where he needs to follow orders and neither does he like to be treated like shit if he wants something of somebody else. `I particularly hate it when I rely on somebody else to get something done and they don`t seem very eager to help me out, even if it`s their job to do so. I get happy simply by doing the things I like to do: practicing sports and studying.

Marketa (16) enjoys dancing. Unfriendly people annoy her, especially the ones whom she asks for help without them willing to provide any. `Fortunately, such situations don`t occur frequently with people I know. It does happen more frequently in relation to strangers. I sort of got used to it, so if it doesn`t get too bad, I will just shrug my shoulders and pretend not to care.`

Ivo (22) gets happy whenever he can celebrate successes at work or in school. He gets angry at unfriendly people, but also somehow understands their position. `You can`t be friendly all the time. If you can, you can`t possibly be truly friendly at all`, he explains.

Martin (26) works for Hare Krishna and his main objective is to hand out as many books as possible. `I work to serve my spiritual master`, Martin says. `But I am not pure so I can still get angry at things. About drug abuse and about people`s selfishness in particular.`

Petra (28) couldn`t live without dreams, but she says many Czech people don`t seem to care too much about dreams. `Czechs have a problem with satisfaction`, Petra says. `They always want to have more of everything, forgetting that they should be happy about themselves before they can be happy about any external matters. Few people actually like their jobs and just perform them by obligation rather than anything else. They are satisfied as long as they keep increasing on the hierarchy level.`

`Divorce rates are high in Czech Republic`, Petra says. `People care about comfort but they also want freedom and they have a hard time combining the two. They end up having one after the other instead of finding ways to feel comfort in freedom and vice versa.` Petra herself is motivated by sports, which she uses as a way to balance her professional life with the personal one. Apart from the sports I do at home, like athletics, volleyball and swimming, I also greatly enjoy traveling and hiking. My last trip to the Pyrenees mountain range was fabulous ? such activities inspire me and makes me happy.`

So what to conclude from all the `thin` results of today`s research? First one: More than in any other country I visited on my trip so far, I find it difficult to get people in the Czech Republic to openly tell me about how they feel. Secondly: Very few young Czech people are capable of conducting a fluent conversation in a foreign Western European language, possibly because of their shyness and at least partly because of lack of language skills. Thirdly: Young Czechs are faced with a quite tough economic environment, which makes it seem like financial wealth or `success` will serve as a guarantee for a happier life. Their ambitions instruct them to pursue material objectives (see yesterday`s article), but they get annoyed at the sight of others rigorously rushing for the same.

As much as I wanted to inspire the Hungarians by quoting Irish poems, I would like to tell the Czechs about a basic wisdom quote, taken from the Santiago pilgrimage: `El camino es la meta`, freely translated as: `the actual goal resides within the process of achieving it`, in this case meaning that: happiness is a state of mind rather than something you can embrace and never let go with.

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