Happy National Day
By Kamal Sunavala

Thanks to my connection with the lovely Jiří Bruna, from the Czech Embassy, I was invited to the celebrations of the Czech National Day. I have an invite from the Czech Ambassador Roman to prove it! What I find amusing is that in all my time in Prague, I never thought of looking up the words to 'Kde domov můj' although I knew its melody well.

I must have bumped my knuckles into every ambassador on earth at that lovely party, all of who claimed that they wanted to retire in the Czech Republic. I wasn't surprised but instead happy that they corroborated what I thought of the country. I certainly want to knit a sweater on a porch there when I am old and grey. The Austrian consul general was only interested in eating as much guláą and knedlíčky as he could, shaking his head that there was no decent poleva to be had outside Prague 1. I told him to go to Hlučná samota on Belgická. He brightened up and then asked me if I was Czech. I said no and he refused to believe me. As far as I was concerned, my evening was a success at that point.

It was a beautiful, strange and exciting fusion of people of all nationalities and especially the Czech people, who were as different, even from each other, as a malé pivo and a bílé víno. Some were educators, who I especially enjoyed talking with, considering I had been in that field in Prague. Some were doctors who were impressed out of their minds that an endoscopy could be done here without sticking a garden hose size tube down the patient's throat. There was a gentleman who however mourned the loss of the chata culture and who was as desperate as me to find a regular weekend of concerts and operas to choose from. Some were ambivalent about their life here and found that on good days (salary days I imagine!) they knew they had done the right thing by moving to the UAE and on bad days they would rather live in Hradec Králové than in this nation which was so very alien to them. One thing we all heartily agreed upon was that it was simply shocking and just downright rude that no one here said an Arabic version of a dobrý den or a nashledanou as they entered and exited elevators.

Just as the Vltava divides Prague into two parts, the Dubai Creek also does that to Dubai. Boats running up and down barely contended with the beauty of a ride up and down the Vltava but it prevented some of the nostalgic Czechs from going into severe homesickness. The women, though, were pretty pleased with themselves as they had the somewhat bewildering status of being named the third most beautiful women in the world by all the magazines and the newspapers here. Not a bad thing, I reminded the lovely Dáąa, who looked anything but a bank analyst, and may God strike me down for being an old fashioned pigeon-holer.

All in all, it was an exhilarating evening. I made some friends who have volunteered a peep into their lives here so that I can keep writing. And they all agreed that I pronounced the word přítel perfectly. I told them the name Kamal in Arabic and Persian both, meant perfection. I kid you not.

Read Kamal's Tongue-in-Czech stories from Prague.