“There is one way to understand another culture. Living it. Move into it, ask to be tolerated as a guest, learn the language. At some point understanding may come. It will always be wordless. The moment you grasp what is foreign, you will lose the urge to explain it. To explain a phenomenon is to distance yourself from it.” ― Peter Høeg, Smilla's Sense of Snow
The curse of the journalist is that you have to detach yourself from the subject to be able to objectively tell a story. Good thing I’m not just a journalist. I’m using my poet card today. So, you can watch me grovel about my softest spot and safest corner this side of Europe, strolling along snow-laden lanes and braving the winter weather. Besides, I couldn’t really explain to you exactly how snow falls, or how it looks like, how it tastes in your tongue. The only thing I could do is to describe in degrees my days there in the former half of Czechoslovakia.
Every time I talk about Slovakia, it gets as personal as it is slow, a little too laidback compared to its Czech neighbour. But if you think that heavy snow would dampen our spirit, and discourage us from sightseeing, you’re in for a very cold surprise. Let’s take it one step, one snowflake at a time.
23 December 2010
Bratislava is unexpectedly warm. Sunny almost the whole day. Many things to discover yet. Slovakia is new territory to me. Danube is at its familiar, tranquil charm though. Here is a city of contradictions: old castle beside a UFO-shaped tower; shining cars along an ancient river; cold weather, warm people.
My friend’s house is a labyrinth, a house of doors.