Edible Mushrooms & Czech Bureaucracy

It’s been a while since I’ve posted, and that’s because I’ve been ill.

Here has been my diet for the past two weeks: 

From left to right,

basmati and jasmine rice, rice porridge, circular ladyfingers, rice cakes, plain rolls, black tea

You’ll notice the black tea is consistent with its Czech reputation as a one-stop cure-all.

For a week I watched the crazy Czech weather rage outside my window. It’s true autumn, and that means 6am is a pitch black hour and sun and rain come in unequal measure. But… with more rain comes mushrooming!

(Side note: My students told me recently a superstition – we were discussing these because it is October, after all – that when there are many mushrooms, or more than usual, it means war. This was the first time I’ve heard that. What do you think?)


I have been invited mushrooming a bunch of times but since I was home sick, I couldn’t go 😦

However, I wanted to share these hilarious words of wisdom from my Czech grandma that I learned recently as we discussed the haul over Sunday lunch:

“Všechny houby jsou jedlé, některé jenom jednou.”

In other words, “All mushrooms are edible; some, only once.” 🙂

In preparing for my next mushrooming experience, I decided to actually look up the names of all the types I know in Czech. It’s strange I haven’t done this before, but it literally only occurred to me recently. I was surprised to find that none of them are anything I’ve ever heard before in English. Some of the most common/interesting translations:

Bedla – parasol mushroom – It really does look like a parasol!

bedla

Ryzec – milk cap

Václavka – honey fungus

Suchohřib – bay bolete. Bolete in English is a subcategory of mushroom.

suchohrib

Babka – red cracking bolete

bobka

Modrák – ink stain bolete – SO FITTING!

 

In other news,

A different type of traffic jam

I went to the hody in Česká and spent the evening dancing valčík – I don’t know if I can describe it as a very fast waltz. It’s a lot of dizzying turning and turning. But dancing at the beginning of the evening is different than well into it. At first, people are still sitting at their tables watching what’s going on around them, so you have lots of space for your spinning on the dance floor. A couple hours later, however, you have to do a lot of clever shifting on your feet while you wait for the tipsy people around you to spin out of the way so that you don’t smack into everyone on your way around the room.

I love their colorful, festive decorations!

Bureaucracy

It’s that time of year again when I spend a lot of time at the “Foreign Police,” aka the unhappy people who are responsible for processing my extended work permit.

Sometimes it’s difficult to think that we are really welcome here, when almost no one in this building actually speaks English. I even had to translate for a Chinese student that came to pick up her visa because no one could communicate with her (and her English was fine).

img_0453

There are signs of English (-speaking culture) in the supermarkets, though!

On the other hand, I think Czechs want whatever foreigners who come here to fit in – perhaps why they aren’t interested in helping us linguistically. They probably believe that if we want or deserve to live here, we’ll learn Czech to rise to their level. This is clear in the fact that they belligerently speak Czech even to people who clearly don’t understand a word – “Pojd’te dál, pojd’te dál,” (Come in, come in) as the person stares at them in confusion from a few feet away, as the Chinese girl did.

Generally, it’s part of the pattern of older Czechs who’ve had their jobs since right after the Velvet Revolution and simply haven’t been interested in learning English since then, but were nonetheless grandfathered into modernity.

But this is the situation, so I adapt to it.

Cake and sketching helps.

I am proud of myself that I can now go there alone confident in my ability to communicate (for the first two years there was no way of managing without a translator), but at the same time being in such a Soviet-era – aka sad, gray, concrete – building where no one ever smiles at you (and where I’ve been yelled at in a foreign language for forgetting paperwork more than once – yeah, Czechs don’t hesitate to tell you to your face that you’re stupid) induces at least a minor anxiety attack every time. 😓😓😓

Thank goodness though, I have survived it this time as always, and I live to teach English in CZ another day!

Categories Brno, Czech Customs, Czenglish, Faux pasTags , , , , , , , ,

2 thoughts on “Edible Mushrooms & Czech Bureaucracy

  1. Love your blog.

    Like

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