Magazine

04-03-2006

Ever thought of taming a wild boar? It can be done! Prague's taxi service is about to undergo a radical transformation. And, how many work hours do Czechs waste surfing the net for their own enjoyment? Find out more in Magazine with Daniela Lazarova.

Agriculture minister Jan Mladek, photo: CTKAgriculture minister Jan Mladek, photo: CTK Amidst growing concern over the threat of bird flu agriculture minister Jan Mladek went out of his way this week to show Czechs that there was no reason to fear poultry products. The minister who claims to breakfast on yogurt and black coffee presided over a breakfast that Emperor Charles IV would not have scoffed at. The tables groaned under the weight of roast chicken, smoked chicken, chicken sausages, salami, turkey sandwiches, turkey salad and the like. Among his breakfast guests were the president of the Agrarian Chamber, the chief Veterinary Inspector and the heads of firms and companies making poultry products. All of them tucked in to show that poultry is indeed safe, as the cameras clicked like mad. Somewhat ironically, this orgy took place on the morning of Ash Wednesday - a day on which many believers start a 40 day fast preceding Easter. But, business is business...

 

There's a saying that if you save someone's life it belongs to you forever - and this appears to be true, even if that someone happens to be a wild boar. When 56 year old Pavel Eichler saved a wild baby boar lying injured in the corn fields close to his home about a year ago he never expected it to become a close companion. The baby boar was christened Bohous and pampered by the whole family until it got well. When Pavel decided that the boar was well enough to be let loose in the fields he was in for a big surprise. Bohous stuck to him like a leech - returning home safely from wherever he was left. Today Pavel and Bohous are inseparable. The boar has been dog-trained and responds to the basic commands. He accompanies his master on shopping trips and to the pub, where he has become much loved attraction getting a bowl of beer on the floor while his master downs a few pints at the table. And if one of them should overdo it - there's always the other to lead him back home safely.

 

If you are coming to Prague this autumn and have been here before - prepare for a big surprise. You should find the Prague taxi service - notorious for its dishonest, surly drivers - radically transformed. The head of Prague's taxi service Jiri Kvasnicka says that as of late summer/early autumn Prague taxi drivers will all be using yellow cabs. And those who meet you at Prague's Ruzyne Airport should be the cream of the crop - dressed in a formal suit, able to communicate in English and German and behaving like perfect gentlemen. Their language courses start in May and Kvasnicka says that the stated high standard will be compulsory for all drivers who wish to operate in the city centre and other lucrative tourist hot-spots. I'm sure any tourist who has been to Prague will agree that this sounds like heaven on earth. There's just one thing that gives me cause for concern. Among the new classes that cabbies will have to attend are assertiveness courses and I can't help thinking that the last thing that Czech cabbies need is to get any more assertive.

 

When the Western style "Miss" beauty contests returned to the Czech Republic after the fall of communism they were highly publicized, well attended events broadcast live by Czech television and watched by millions of viewers. The communist ban on beauty queens resulted in a crazy boom of beauty queen contests in which the nation went wild. You name it -we had it. Miss Wet Shirt, Miss Beer, Miss XXL, but none more bizarre than Miss Compost Heap, the latest in a series of outrageous Miss contests. Sixteen years on it seems the nation is finally sated. Although there are still two official beauty queen contests fighting for supremacy - Miss Czech Republic and Czech Miss - public interest is definitely on the wane. One of the visible signs of this moving-on is that the car maker Skoda, a prominent sponsor of these events in the past, has announced that it is no longer interested in having its name linked with Czech beauty queens.

 

45 year old Beta Pourova holds the Czech "hardy-woman" record - 40 minutes of swimming in 1 degree Celsius cold water. Jumping in the Vltava for a morning swim while the rest of us are freezing in winter coats is perfectly normal for her. Last week though, she unwittingly set off a major rescue operation when a by-passer happened to see her in the murky waters of the Vltava. Thinking that no one could possibly be in the freezing cold river of their own volition the woman called the rescue services' emergency hot line and within minutes she had police vans, emergency crews and a fire-engine on the spot. Well, Beta Pourova was not happy to have her morning swim cut short by a determined rescuer in a lifeboat- but at least the rest of us can take comfort in the knowledge that emergency crews are really doing their job well!

 

Little Sonia, the first baby to be left in Prague's Baby box for unwanted newborns, is to go back to her mother and twin sister. The mother decided to give her up because as a single parent she felt she couldn't manage the financial burden of twins, which sparked a wave of concern and solidarity from Czechs. Luckily, Sonia's mum left her birth certificate in the baby box - and when she decided she wanted he baby back - there was nothing to prevent Sonia from joining her mother and sister on that very day.

 

A full 68 percent of Czechs say they use the Internet for their own enjoyment during work hours, and a full 30 percent of those who do admitted that they spend four or more hours - that is half their work day- surfing the web. Only 16 percent of people polled said they were strictly forbidden to use the Internet for other than work purposes. That considered - it's pretty amazing that the economy is doing so well! Just think where we could be if people put in a full days work!

04-03-2006