- -  Day # 308  + +

EU > Slovakia > Bratislava

L`enfance perdue?

Bratislava, SK (View on map)

Out of all subjects I covered during the last ten months, the articles that in some way or another related to the EU were invariably the most boring. People are generally dissatisfied with politics, and whatever happens in Brussels is even futher away from their daily lives. One subject that always gets people to talk is childhood memories. Here`s the Slovakian edition:

Miro (23):

`I am happy not to be a kid anymore. I can now take responsibiliy for what I do, and do whatever I want`
Michaela (22) remembers how she used to hate sports and spend most of her childhood watching TV. `That`s over now. I spend my free time watching videos on Youtube now. I never played outside a lot. Inside the house, I was trying to get a hold of perfume bottles to play with them as I was strolling around in my `walking assistance tool`. I broke quite some stuff in those days. Then my sister was born when I was 7. I remember I was not too excited about it, I guess I knew what was happening but not entirely how it related to myself.`

It may be a coincidence, but most of the people I speak to today at some point refer to the birth of their younger brother or sister. For Agus (25), it was the earliest every memory she has. `I was only 1.5 years old but I still vaguely remember how happy I was. I went to hospital with my father and my grandparents were already there. Ever since she was born, we have been good friends and we even share lots of what we do today. We share friends, we are both studying history and we are living together in one flat.`

Petr (22) remembers the birth of his little sister, when he was 3 years old. `That`s also my earliest memory, I think. My mum came home after spending two days in hospital. I did know that I would get a brother or a sister, but I didn`t know what is was going to be in the end. My best childhood memory is probably when Slovakia won the world title in ice hockey. Although I was already 16 by then. I remember how I fell in love with a girl when I was 7. We spent one week `together`, but we never kissed. I lost sight of her in the years after. She moved to another place and I never heard from here in later years.`

Petr still has a group of five friends whom he knows from his time in primary school. `We catch up when everybody comes back to the place where we grew up. I am not originally from Bratislava. I was born and raised in the province of Ruthenia, close to the Ukranian border. Like myself, many of my friends moved to other places. We used to play football together, and anything that got close to hockey. Mostly without ice, just running over the street hitting balls. Lots of team sports in any case. Our current favourite team sport is drinking beer together.`

Radi (22) compares his childhood to the 1990s movie `Dennis the Menace`. `Until the moment computer games started to come out, I spend most of my free time playing outside with friends: hide and seek or other similar games. Teachers did not like me as their pupil. I was quite annoying and I never respected their authority. I would start talking back to them and be hyperactive. I just didn`t like how they as part of a system would not allow you to have any opinion different from theirs.`

Zuzana (28) also remembers doing things that were not allowed. We had this group of friends and whenever possible we would climb into the neighbours` garden and steal unripe apples from their trees. Everyone had a specific task. One would pick, another one was making sure that we didn`t get caught.. Once back in the street, we rubbed the apples on the tiles of the street and threw the resulting green mud at each other, as if it were snowballs. My parents didn`t know too much about it until I once came home after eating some unripe apples. My sick was green and I think my mum thought I had some kind of tyfus. I am no longer in touch with these childhood friends. All of them moved away from the place where I grew up, including myself. Some just to different towns, others even abroad.`

Happy to grow up
Miro (23, photo) is happy not to be a child anymore. `I found it annoying to do things because my parents told me what to do. I wasn`t allowed to do whatever I wanted at my own responsibility. Even though I still live with my parents, I can now decide when I come home, do what makes sense to me instead of simply obeying them.`

Miro`s first ever memory is linked with an Eastern-style lamp on the ceiling. `I only recently learnt how to walk without losing my balance when I got sight of the lamp in the living room. It was covered in coloured tissue with all sorts of fringes. I remember how I was petrified at the sight of such incomprehensible beauty. There are no photos of the incident but I still remember very clearly what I saw on that day.`

`My funniest memory probably dates back to a birthday party. One of my presents was a remote controlled car. Unfortunately, the remote control was connected to the car with a wire, which I thought wasn`t the way it was supposed to be. In all my enthusiasm, I simply cut the wire and the thing obviously started working. My grandfather fixed it. He was a dedicated electrotechnician and so was I in my younger years. For a long time, I thought that all of my life would consist of playing with wires and switches. And take over his company. But he already retired well before we could actually make that idea come true.`

`After lower secondary school, I went to an electronic high school. Much against the will of my parents who wanted me to go to a general gymnasium. I am still very grateful of how they helped me change to the gymnasium when one year of the electronics was enough to make me fed up with it. With all the boys and the culture it created. Like in the army, you all start behaving a bit annoyingly, and that also happened in my class. I didn`t relate too much to my class mates. They were very different and I didn`t feel at ease there. At the same time, I started to loose my appetite for playing with electrical stuff. I still like reparing stuff at home when something breaks down. For the career, I changed from electronics to studying law. I am quite happy about the way things are going. My part time job in a laywers cabinet, along with the studies, is teaching me a lot and it is giving me decent perspectives for the future.`

Last but not least on this day is the interview with Barbora. She did stick to her childhood hobby. `I love reading and I started doing it when I was very young. I didn`t play outside a lot, nor did I watch a lot of TV. Reading books is much more pleasant to me. It speaks to my fantasy and imagination and I enjoy how I recognise small bits of myself in all of the characters I read about. The closest match so far was the main character in Dostojevksi`s The Idiot, but I have not yet found somebody who could have been completely me.`

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