It was a glorious sunny Sunday in Spindleruv Mlyn. The sky was high and blue with a few fluffy white clouds. The world through my new polarised sunnies showed itself in crispy green colours of spring dotted with a full palette of new flowers and eager butterflies. I came to Krkonose with my brother and his daughter to breathe some fresh mountain air and to stretch our city legs a bit. Not that I needed to escape anything since it’s only been a couple of weeks into my homeland visit but I would never say no to the mountains.
While the young ones decided to splash in the (indoor) pool, I, nursing my newly acquired cold, stuck with a stroll in the steep streets. I was basking in the sunshine remembering my teens when Gabi and I planned our lives in the exact spot more than half of our lifetimes ago. Needless to say, our dreams turned into something completely different as tends to happen in life. In my mind I gave a forgiving smile to those naive ideals we both had at the time and blinked away the stinging sensation in my eyes.
But where exactly am I going with these lines?
As I was navigating downhill to my right I spotted a bunch of workers digging trenches for phone lines or cables of sorts. To break the silence, the stares and to be polite I greeted them. They nodded back and kept on curiously watching me. I know manual labourers from the Roma community are viewed as close to second class citizens here in the Czech Republic. I don't operate that way. They are working for their living so good on them. There are plenty of those of paler skin colour who prefer to take benefits, breed and take more benefits so I'll give kudos to those who work anytime.
But something fundamental, something ingrained in the Czech nature revealed itself to me that day, in the bright spring sunshine. When I commented on how beautiful the day was, the workers replied "Madam, we can't buy much with that. Maybe you could give us a hand?" I laughed and walked on but kept on thinking about what it actually meant.
My diagnosis is “consumerism with pessimistic tendencies” and it’s applicable to the folks nationwide.
Are people really only measuring their happiness by the amount of things that they can buy? Would I receive a very different reply to my comment in, say, the UK, Australia or Cambodia (random choice of countries where I spent considerable amount of time)? I’d like to think so. Locals would nod and reply along the lines of "Lovely, indeed!” or “Too right, mate”. Cambodians would giggle and most likely offer you a tuk-tuk ride because you can’t be serious wanting to walk in this heat, can you?
But consumerism is the king in the “western world” - I have no blinkers on my eyes and I see that “shopping” is a perfectly acceptable weekend activity and “hitting” the Mall passes as a fine choice of things to do in one’s spare time. Shelves are breaking under the weight of goods and endless variations of the same product and I continue to struggle to choose. How can there be fifteen types of shampoo of any given brand? Considering that most products are made in a big pot somewhere where labour is cheap, then transported in big tankers and later housed in appealing bottles with sparkling labels - I think the industry has us under the thumb and there is no way out. Unless I move to the mountains with my imaginary goats and real wine.
Back to my sunny Sunday, though. Why being negative is the "go to" place of my fellow countrymen? I'd like to think that I'm different. I'm quite happy grinning (and sneezing) into the fields of bright yellow oil seed rape or blue skies with fluffy white clouds. Early spring green makes me giddy and so does fog, rain and sunshine. Maybe it's because I've been deprived and seasons in Cambodia stay for a while and weather doesn’t really vary that much. Maybe it’s because I have learned to appreciate the everyday beauty and stop and smell the roses. Maybe it’s because I see things. Maybe it’s because I changed the way I think about things. And maybe it’s because life is too damn short to be miserable. So cheer up, surround yourself with people who make you happy, get out there, do the things that you love and …..
I am off!
anna bella betts
Never still, always on the move, looking for the perfect capture... Cambodia is currently my home, presenting endless opportunities....
In this blog you will find no profound wisdom.
Just accounts of daily life, sometimes about photography, often about wine, occasionally about travel adventures and sometimes about nothing at all.