I do not know many Czech people, and those I do know, I only met within the past couple of days. So far, they appear to be a diverse and eclectic people, and this pleases me.
Alex: my driver from the airport. Friendly, helpful, funny, delightfully easy on the eye. Felt that the most important things to point out in my neighbourhood were the cake and dessert shop, the nice pub, and the pub I should probably avoid. I love Alex.
Can’t-pronounce-or-spell-his-name-yet, the chef in the school cafe. Friendly, cooks delicious, healthy food, makes an awe-inspiring espresso, and – best of all, in my opinion – is apparently completely eccentric. All the tutors and general staff are slightly afraid of him. Not afraid that he’ll murder them in their beds or anything – just afraid in that amusing way that normally confident and self-assured people often are of temperamental individuals. We trainees (I’m doing a CELTA course for a month here, for anyone who was wondering how I suddenly became a student again) have been cautioned by 4 different people, who, normally cool and collected, seem to fear nothing more than setting the chef off.
It would be great if you could possibly tell him what you want for lunch the day before… he tends to freak out if he gets unexpectedly large numbers.
Try not to take up a whole booth by yourself, he’ll freak out… you don’t want him to freak out, none of us wants that.
Just a quick announcement about the coffee situation, as apparently the chef is on the verge of freaking out…
He’s a really nice guy and he cooks really good food, so let’s all, if we could, just do our best not to freak him out.
I probably don’t need to tell you that I am already utterly dying for the day the chef freaks out. I honestly can’t wait. I have no idea what it will be like, but I am certain it will be worth whatever
I have to do someone has to do to make it happen. Today, I was just a little nervous about meeting him for the first time, so I was super-polite and made a huge deal about how incredible his goat’s cheese vegetable pasta salad was, and he gave me a huge beaming smile and a free coffee.
Alana, the accommodations person. She is already my favourite person here. With a thick accent that is sometimes comical, but mostly sweet, she is a short, middle-aged lady who just wants everybody to be happy. She makes me think of an older version of myself – I’d even be willing to bet that she has at least two cats. She spent ages today trying to help me with internet problems, and then gasped in horror when she saw how hot and tired I was after barely getting any sleep thanks to the heat (in the non-air-conditioned apartment!!) and then sweltering through a day of classes (in the non-air-conditioned school!!). Oh, my dear sweetheart! she said, fairly shoving me into a chair in her cool office. You must sit here and enjoy the cool and beautiful air. What can I do?
Well, I said hopefully, enjoying the cool and beautiful air, I was going to ask if you could write down some directions to a shop where I could buy an electric fan for my room. I really can’t sleep when it’s that hot.
Oh, of course not, it’s horrible, you poor girl! she agreed passionately. Oh! But I can borrow to you a fan from my home! She disappeared, presumably to borrow to me a fan, and returned with another gaggle of helpless students in tow. Hayley, dear, I sent my colleague to bring the fan, you just wait here, I told him be fast! I sat for about 15 minutes just watching the woman in total awe as she seemed to bat off problems from every direction, talking on the phone at the same time as guiding two students through a form and issuing directions to a handyman.
Who is for? Alex the driver appeared in the office with an electric fan, and I meekly raised my hand. Thank you so much! I called gratefully to both of them as I gathered up my books and files and staggered outside under the weight of a fan.
You are being cool! replied Alex with a grin.
You’re very welcome! called Alana, covering the phone with one hand to yell after me. But please tell everyone you bought it yourself! I don’t have 100 fans to give out!
I was smiling all the way home to my now considerably cooler room.
No, I don’t have many Czechs in my life… but I’m already enjoying the presence of those who’ve just arrived in it!
Names changed* in the hope that no one from the course finds my blog until it’s over (the course, not the blog).
*Apart from the chef, I really can’t pronounce or spell his name yet.