The Adventure Continues...

Rants, raves and random observations from an itinerant epidemiologist.

100 in 1000
  1. Spend a week up a mountain learning to ski
  2. Visit Karoline's place in Moravia
  3. Hold a conversation in Czech (only)
  4. Drink 500ml of each of the following beers:
    1. Pilsner
    2. Staroprammen
    3. Budvar
    4. Velke Popovice
    5. U Fleku
    6. Gambrinus
    7. Krusovice
  5. Respond to at least one GOARN request (WHO and MSF are also acceptable)
  6. Travel across the Atlantic
  7. Return to South America
  8. Read a book to, or with, an impressionably aged child
  9. Participate in one NanoWriMo Challenge and come within at least 10,000 words of the goal length
  10. Have my nose pierced
  11. Have my next tattoo drawn
  12. Purchase the perfect jeans (x 2 pairs)
  13. Attend a spin class 3 times a week for 8 consecutive weeks
  14. Bake Viv's cheesecake
  15. Make David's casserole
  16. Make David's Chicken Cashew-nut Stirfry
  17. Invite 4 people who don't know one another too well to dinner
  18. Ride from Vienna to Venice on a motorbike (pillion acceptable, those less desirable)
  19. Attend a book group for at least two books
  20. Go on a choir weekend (learn and perform difficult piece in two/three days)
  21. Visit Madame Tussaud's (in London)
  22. Take an architecture appreciation course
  23. Join an all-girl group and sing a solo
  24. Publish in a scientific journal (top two authors)
  25. Cook a duck or other 'waterfowl'.
  26. Locate the Al-Timimi's from Doha Veterinary Practise
  27. Have a pedicure
  28. Maintain a Brazilian (ouch) for three months.
  29. Find a trustworthy Czech hairdresser
  30. Treat my inner-6-year-old twice a week (at least)
  31. Do the liver-cleansing diet properly (12 weeks)
  32. Don't eat out for one month
  33. Find a flat and flatmate
  34. Purchase one Joseph sweater
  35. Purchase one of the following pairs of designer shoes (they MUST also be COMFORTABLE, and be able to be worn with 4 different outfits and 2 types of occasion): Jimmy Choos, Manolo Blahniks, Christian Louboutin (Ebay or 2nd hand are acceptable)
  36. Send 5 books to the booksphere and track them.
  37. Go hanggliding
  38. Read 10 'classic' books (from 1001 Books to Read before you Die)
    1. Moll Flanders
    2. Everything is illuminated
    3. Madam Bovary
    4. Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintainance
    5. Catch-22
    6. Odysseus
    7. On the Road
  1. Run (non-stop!) for 5kms outside (preferably in a street race thingy)
  2. Send Christmas Cards on time
  3. Make a collage/mural out of street lights on my wall
  4. Buy a bed, build it, and sleep soundly in it
  5. Go to Africa
  6. Host an 'event' (classified as and when)
  7. Organise a 30th Birthday Party
  8. Wear a costume
  9. Sing on stage
  10. Buy a painting that evokes memories of Prague (cannot involve queues!)
  11. Learn a god-damned card game that stays in my memory (other than fish/snap)
  12. See sunrise. Be sober. Have woken for it. Excludes months Nov-Mar
  13. Take a walk and flip coins at each intersection
  14. Win something
  15. Draft a will
  16. Take a roadtrip
  17. Go to Italy already
  18. Sea Kayak around Abel Tasman Park (NZ)
  19. Get plants
  20. Take a train to another Eastern European Destination (accession countries are acceptable) alone preferably.
  21. Get UK to give me a provisional motorcyclists license and simultaneously get a 'card' license.
  22. Go SCUBA diving again - at least two dives lasting 30mins each.
  23. Go to a dentist. *sigh*
  24. Do a Czech Wine Trail. And live to tell the tale
  25. Make an 'outbreak emergency kit'.
  26. Go to bed prior to 11pm every night (inc weekends) for four consecutive weeks.
  27. Marvel over lack of tiredness
  28. Dine at a Gordon Ramsey restaurant (or Nobu)- preferably for free.
  29. Bet on the nags
  30. Do something for charity (applying and getting a 'red card' will count)
  31. Walk along the Champs Elysee
  32. Do 100 sit ups in a row
  33. Do 50 pressups (arms in tight)
  34. Make branston pickle (or nearest substitute)
  35. Cook something 'new' and 'adventurous' at least once a month
  36. Find a mentor
  37. Be a mentor
  38. Learn what mentoring is all about
  39. Meet an online person in real life
  40. Resist the flirt. Once. Just one night. It's okay if people don't immediately succumb to my natural charm. Really it is.
  41. Spend time at a spa (spa towns in the CR don't count)
  42. Send a care package to someone
  43. Get a Tata Bojs CD
  45. Order new contact lenses.
  46. Make a list of things I take with me when I pack for different occasions
  47. Eat lobster. Prepared by someone else.
  48. Back up the blog
  49. Put everything onto an external hard drive
  50. Find a DDR mat and console and 'dance, I say dance!'�
  51. Go to the beach and lie on the warm sand. For an hour. (with sunscreen on, natch)
  52. Take and complete a course in either: Tango, Salsa or Flamenco
  53. Join the Municipal Library of Prague
  54. Move to another country
  55. Go to a live concert of a band I actually like
  56. Pay off debts (student loan excl.)
  57. Send thank you cards for every gift I receive (other than the gift of happiness, blah blah blah).
  58. Get an agent (literary or theatre)
  59. Go to a sports bar without cringing, by personal choice
  60. Ride a rollercoaster
  61. Hold a snake
  62. Spend a day wandering around a museum (not art gallery!)
Vesele Vanoce
Tuesday, 20 December 2005
ARGH!! I need to drive something fast, shoot something, or get myself into a ring with someone of equal stature and skill!! I did my Czech test today – which was okay…except I got so much wrong that I only picked up a B-. Now, that in itself shouldn’t be enough to wind me up TOO much…except that it was the worst (nejhorsi) grade in the class. *sob* Will I EVER figure out this goddamned language? A language in which the verb ‘to smoke’ is the same as the verb ‘to receive oral sex’. Maybe that’s what billy boy was saying… whichever…I’m not asking a waiter whether “I can smoke here” ever again, but now I knew why they snickered when I asked. Pah! AND to top it off, the test was the most farcically (?) delivered test I’ve ever had the misfortune to sit. The teacher gave us the pieces of paper, wrote some things on the board to make sure we understood and then sat up the back with the most recent student to arrive and took him through the test question by question. I thought I COULD listen in, but I’d rather test myself. Hence the crappy result. Merry fecking Christmas. Of course, seeing a carp get it’s head bashed in on the way home does wonders for the constitution (see photos – there’re dozens of new ones), so by the time I got back to the office, I was almost settled. Almost. Just in time for a glass of bilé vino (white wine – but I’ve probably got the sodding endings of both words wrong so for goodness sake, do NOT take my word for it) and the work Christmas party, which just made me burst into tears. Nomes is not a happy camper this evening. However, there was a small child at the party (and a banjo, unfortunately) so he and I conversed in Englech (his English, my Czech) and that was lots of fun. We went through all the countries that spoke English, and did colours and counted too. I wonder if I started a babysitting service whether I’d learn quicker…after all, since I’m a part time administrative assistant, I may as well!!!

Last week, (on ER – yes I DO have a voiceover personality in this head of mine), Umit and I wandered around town a bit. He left, and life returned a little to normal (i.e. I shopped for groceries, twisted my ankle, watched a lesbian film…very normal!) and then on Friday things got a bit mad again.

First off, carolling under the astronomical clock in old town square. The temperature on Friday in Prague was approximately -108 degrees. Kelvin. (stop thinking of little round robots named Kelvin)

Nevertheless, Intunition (comprising of Katie, Molly, Karoline, Emma, Kat, Zosia and myself) turned up wearing approximately 5 layers each. Though incapable of bending our joints, we were ‘almost warm’! We planned to sing Christmas Carols for two hours to the ‘shoulder-to-shoulder’ audience in Old Town Square. The boys (boyfriends of two of the singers) provided us with svarak and occasionally threw money into our cap (leading by example…we hoped). After an hour Czech and English Christmas Carols (23Kc…approximately €0.76 – we’re RICH!) we looked at one another before death turned the hourglass (hourly trick of his at the old Orloj – astronomical clock) to set the saints spinning (same) and almost in unison (albeit in the chord of G) said “Svařák?” which translates directly to: “shall we bugger off out of here, head to a nice pub and have some bloody hot wine to thaw out?”. Thus it came to be that we were ensconced in a small bar that I’ll probably never find again (I’ve now been there three times and wouldn’t have a clue as to how to return!) for chupitos (laybacks) on the bar and mulled wine. As you do.

Of course, once our vocal chords had relaxed and extended again to their normal lengths, and once the girls had finished berating me for continually pushing the tempo of our songs (Okay!! I confess: I DO not want to spend 5 minutes singing 12 verses of Good King Wenceslas – which should really be Dobry Kral Vaclav anyway only that phrase doesn’t fit the beats!!) we realised that *gasp* there was a guy with a guitar in the corner. Singing radiohead/coldplay/oasis songs to himself. Or so he thought! We joined in (a.k.a. took over) momentarily before deciding to show them (patrons/barstaff/neighbouring shopkeepers) what we were ACTUALLY capable of and ran through our complete repertoire (at present, about 10 songs). Poor Molly can’t sing at the moment – since she’s got an appalling cold – but Dream a Little Dream is one of our best pieces. Thankfully, Karo can hold our part (whereas I can’t…) so I watched Molly mouthing the words and added the sound. We got applause – but whether it was for how good we were or for stopping I shall never know. Nor do I care to enquire.

After a few svaraks, I rushed out to catch up with Marketa who had BETTER be reading this finally! I missed catching up with her on a weekly basis while I was away in Budapest, so it was good to have another gossip. There’s always much to talk about – and I never feel bad about overanalysing with her. But it DID mean that I was late (ARGH!) to collect Nerissa from her tube stop. I blame easyjet for allowing me to relax – they took off late, so I thought I had plenty of time. Still…by now it was snowing, so Nis got to see Prague in snow right from the get go.

A brief stop in someone else’s room at the hostel (they gave her the wrong key) and a rapid consumption of Krispy Kreme donuts later (in the correct room – though in retrospect we could’ve left the crumbs for someone else…?) and we went for a wander through the city by night. Even up to the Vltava and along Charles Bridge (halfway, at least! I draw some limits when the wind is whistling by at 80kph straight from the Arctic/Siberia/SomewhereBloodyCold). I thought I might wait for the 3:40 tram to take me home after that, then my arse froze to the seat upon which I waited, so I flagged a taxi.

I kinda wish I drove here. Mainly because I have ABSOLUTELY no idea about the roads here. At one point, I think the taxi driver asked me whether he should go one way or another (very Blondie) and I tried to indicate ‘er, dunno…’ but he got upset that I didn’t know. ARGH! So…the sooner I get my bike, the better. For all involved (namely, the insurance company).

Saturday morning saw Nis wandering around town while I attempted to quickly get a bag ready. The problem with living outside of the centrum is that if I’m doing anything in the evening that involves showering, changing and getting glammed up (which, lets face it, knowing me, it probably does?) then it requires a mastermind in logistics. Just as well I’m thus equipped. Ha ha ha ha.

And eventually, I could ‘dash’ into town. Again, the weather was appalling (Prague DID indeed put on a good display of snich (snow) for our Nis) but that just meant that we were perpetually cold. So…what did we do? Wander around the Christmas markets (Svarak for breakfast – how healthy) and bought candied almonds (“all the better to burn a hole in my tongue, my dear”) and then trdnlik (yes, really) which Nis has a photo of (and I hope she puts it on her blog). This was BEFORE setting off down the expensive shop, stopping in most shops to try things on. Thankfully they didn’t have the Armani/Marc Jacobs OR Guess shoes/boots in my size *sob* otherwise I would have been faced with a dilemma. I’m SOOO glad that my feet are the size they are, my shoe collection is perfectly unsuitable enough thank you.

After lunch at Pravda (we had to!) which was divine, we set off to do more shopping – this time for presents. I think we managed to get some decorative eggs. Then we tried more clothes on in Zara – both bursting out of the changing rooms in a pique of “bloody small European sizing” rage (okay, maybe only me) and back to the hostel to change for a ‘party’.

Now, I’m very glad that Nis is who she is, because I am sometimes (yes, that’s SOMEtimes thanks v. much) the least informed member of a group. The thing is, Zosia (from Intunition) said some time ago, ‘we’re performing at a Christmas party on the 17th’ and really, that’s as much as I knew about it. So there we were, tarted up, crisscrossing town in a taxi (see aforementioned inappropriate footwear) and then up into someone else’s flat. The flat was in a lovely situation, but the décor was a little, er, lacking. The woman who owns (?) the flat is a caterer, so occasionally she rents it out for parties. Cool. But if I were renting my house out, especially for a Christmas party, I would make sure that it looked more, well, Christmassy. Sure, there was a tree, but that was about it for the Christmas lights. As far as I’m concerned, white fairy lights on the curtain rails can be there all year round – since they’re so pretty. So yeah. The food was also a little, um, well, could’ve been better. Nis and I spoke in length about how our Mum’s wouldn’t throw parties like that…or wouldn’t allow dirty plates to pile up when the guests were eating etc. (so yay to our Vivs for bringing us up proper!)

Intunition had ‘warmed up’ prior to everyone else’s arrival. But we’d sounded atrocious. And I’d agreed to sing Dream a Little Dream solo (with backup) because of Molly’s voice. So she wrote out the words, and I tried to still my nerves with wine, before realising that I’d be MORE nervous if I were slightly tipsy and so stuck to water. But our first set went quite well. And Molly’s introduction of Dream meant that I got a lot of applause. How’s this for an example of nerves: after our first song, Zosia made us introduce ourselves (who we are, where we’re from) and I said, “I’m New Zealand…er…hang on…no I’m not!” and stammered my way through my name/country like a complete bloody idiot. Grace, thy name is NOT Naomi.

A hiatus for more food, more wine, some photos and more congeniality (none of which I could be bothered with, I just gossiped with the singing girls instead of meeting ‘new’ people!) and then we did our second set (Christmas type songs) which includes the (now slightly famous) “Santa Baby”. I do so love my verse for that. But the ‘crowd’ (okay, about 20 people) actually managed to put me off my start. Our ‘stage’ directions are that we push each other out of the way (either shoving, grabbing, hooking or gabumping – you know, with your hip – it’s all terribly violent) and when I did my thing to move to the front, the crowd ‘giggled’ or made ‘expectant noise’ or something. And I couldn’t quite think what I’d done to deserve it (was my fly open?!!? Were my red Christmas knickers exposed??!?) and I lost it for a moment. I hated it. But once I did my stocking move, I was back in the game. Naturally.

Thankfully Zosia’s husband, our number one fan (sounds preferable to “our one fan” though equally correct) requested an encore. Of “Little Drummer Boy” (the words to which I’d committed to memory in the taxi on the way there…as you do!)!!! And so we complied with that, plus a whole load more Christmas Carols. And nearly everyone sang We Wish You (though after 7 verses, it was more like We Wish You Wouldn’t) so I think we nearly convinced the crowd we were good. Or okay at any rate.

Managed to get through about 10 disney classics, half a dozen show tunes, some popular ballads and a good handful of Christmas Carols once most people had left. Then a frozen walk in the snow (STILL snowing) across the bridge, and a tram ride (during which Nis provided a part for Java Jive, earning us applause from other passengers) later, and we were at the Dogs Bollocks (don’t all good nights end up there) and daring one another to go down the room to the other table (surrounded by boys) and ask them to do strange things. Mine was “get one of them to come up here and sing for us”. So…off I went. I spoke in hesitant Czech, “Prosim vas. Jsem Naomi, odkud z Novy Zealande. Moje kamaradku chceji jedno muz spiva pro nas. Mluvite anglicky?” (“Excuse me,” sort of, no direct translation, “I’m Naomi, from New Zealand. My friends want one man to sing for them. Do you speak English?”)

I was answered with “proc, mluvite cesky!” which was rather nice (“Why? You speak Czech!”) and I was able to follow with, “poorly, slowly and just a little!” so maybe the lessons ARE worthwhile. They pointed at one guy, who I then asked to sing Narodil se with us (Czech Christmas Carol). I took him by the hand (less opportunity for him to escape) and dragged him up our end of the bar. Kat has a photo of him and me, but she may not recall that she has. Her dare (since mine was successful) was to get them to write their mothers names (my part) on a part of her body (Nis’s addition). I even had a pen (since lost, obviously). She sent me a txt the next morning saying that she woke up thinking she was in ‘memento’. Bahahahaha!
Finally home (after a night tram ride with Kat – during which we changed the lyrics to Dream a Little Dream to reflect upon our view as seated passengers, of (mostly) men’s nether regions) to amuse ourselves, and blissful sleep by about 4am.

Thankfully, Prague got some slunce (sun) on Sunday morning, so Nis got to see it looking a little nicer. We met at lunchtime, and grabbed a bite to eat before heading up to the castle. We bought a guidebook and then wandered through all of St Vitus’s cathedral (which meant getting SOOOO very horribly cold – you could seriously feel the heat emanating into the large ceiling) and took many photos. SOME of those photos are on my flickr pages, but the rest are still on my computer. I have, it seems, reached my upload limit for the free account. So I’ve asked Cheryl to sponsor me (my credit card is currently ‘out of commision’) to a full one, and more photos will come soon. (AND SHE HAS!!! We love our Sister-Cousins!) The ones there should be plenty to keep you entertained though. Anyway, we had chocolate and cake at the café (the one that Umit and I were at a week previously – if I time this right, I could become quite a (rotund) regular!), and then headed back into town so she could see where I live. A stop off at home, then the incorrect exit from Mustek (of course) and we came across the vase that she’d seen at the party the previous night that was made in Bohemia (of course). I found some suitable Christmas presents, and things were all terribly serendipitous. We also located some medovino (hot mead) and sugared almonds (for her) and hazelnuts (for me). YUM. A smazeny syr rounded the evening off, gastronomically (as in, we’d eaten all the bad things Prague has to offer and could now wait for the indigestion to set in), and we wandered the streets a bit more before she left to catch her train.

I went back to my tiny (but cute, and perfect for one person) flat and watched Whale Rider.

The moment the first scene of the beach flickered across my monitor, I burst into tears, complete with audible whimper to start me off. I’m going to tell you all that it’s because it’s a coming of age story about a whale (I cried ALL the way through Free Willy – and it wasn’t just at the name) and not because I’m homesick. No. I’m far too ‘travelled’ for that sort of carry on. Aren’t I?

Whatever, it was good, and I looked like a google-eyed frog alien on Tuesday morning (crying before sleeping=mutant woman awakes). Just in time to find out that I have a Czech exam tomorrow (grammar, oh goody, my favourite) which almost set me off again.
So rest assured mes amies (muj pritely) that despite my incredibly limited French vocabulary being stored in a place where I’d rather my Czech vocab was inhabiting (to the point where the teacher asked today what the verb ‘to sleep’ was and I responded immediately with ‘dormir’!!!! ARGH!), I’m gonna pass this test. And I did. Unconvincingly, but passed.
posted by Nomes @ Tuesday, December 20, 2005  
  • At 7:44 am, December 21, 2005, Blogger Mums said…

    Hi GNomes,
    You really are living in a winter wonderland. It looks very pretty, but I don't fancy the temperature.
    I've found a Prague guidebook, which I'm giving to your Father for Christmas - it even has a map, so you can start giving us references and we'll be with you in spirit (whisky & brandy) all the way.
    The word for the multicoloured leaves is variegated - we have a variegated hibiscus, which has just bloomed. The single coloured leaved hibiscus has been flowering for ages, but only one flower at a time. But who's complaining?
    Glad you had good times with Umit and Nerissa. It makes learning a town much easier if you have to show it to someone else.
    I agree with you about the horses - and Skodas just don't cut it. Glad you didn't photograph one. But I am looking forward to seeing Prague next northern summer. Ans as to crying during Whale Rider, not to worry, anyone who didn't must be a hard hearted Hanna (sorry to any Hanna/hs who are reading this, but that's the expression, honest). Mind you, most don't burst into tears at the opening credits, but then you always have gone in for "over the top".
    Better love and leave you. Pa has returned and we're supposed to be going swimming..... However I hear a cuppa calling and I'm going to burn some crumpets, yum.
    Love you, Mums

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