Prague Revisited
By Kamal Sunavala

Back in one of my favourite cities in the world. I can scarcely believe it. When I left Prague, I left for the mysterious Middle East. It's a mystery alright. It's a mystery to me why the air doesn't smell crisp, why the parks are not overflowing with people who are simply enjoying life, why there are no dogs to be seen anywhere!

This is not about berating Dubai though. It's a good city. Much like the good middle child. Not like the stellar older one though. Prague is and will for a long, long time be my star. I am back for a two-week visit and it really feels like I never left. As I wound my way to Vinohrady from Ruzyně, I was bursting with joy. To be back in the city where I have some of my fondest memories, some of my dearest friends and a sense of breathtaking beauty is what I consider pure untainted happiness.

Appreciate. That's my message. It's a crazy, stimulating, annoying city and nothing's changed. Except for the fact that it is now officially part of the EU. Congratulations on making the club membership. On the eve of the accession I was at Staroměstské náměstí to watch the fireworks. It was a beautiful night although I didn't have a high opinion of the German beer bangers who were relishing the moment in an intrusive way.

Café Slavia. I was having a delightful Becherovka Red Moon with a friend and watching the tourists scurry by, thinking do they know that they are in one of the most amazing get-under-your-skin cities in the world? Have they realized how each cobblestone is marked with history? I suspect I was getting foolishly sentimental but to really appreciate Prague one has to leave it. When you miss the church bells on Náměstí Míru and the happy barking of contented pooches in Riegrovy Sady, that's when you understand what Prague means to you. It's like the spring sunshine that dapples through the leaves ever so often.

I am grateful I had the opportunity to come back and experience this. To see old friends who are now leaving. To catch the sunlight over the Vltava.

Prague is my Ode to Joy. How fitting that it is the EU's National Anthem. I can't think of another place that sings it so well.