Friday, February 8, 2013

Wandering Reveals Hidden Treasures

The other day I had some spare time, so I went for a bit of a wander. I ended up at the castle, it's difficult not to. The castle dominates the city so I am frequently drawn there. It's on a big hill, and overlooks practically everything how could it not dominate the city? Plus it takes less than thirty minutes to walk there.

So I made it to the castle in time to watch the daily changing of the guard. The one with all the pomp and circumstance. They change the castle guard every hour, but once a day at noon they have a regular ceremony in one of the courtyards for it. There is music and marching, the whole bit. There will be more on that in the future.

After the changing of the guard I walked into another courtyard in the castle with a good view of St. Vitus and took a 360 degree panoramic photo. Then I gave it my squish treatment and quite liked it.

This one is sort of Escher meets Dali. I particularly like the treatment the Skoda car on the right got.

Then I made my way away from the castle and figured I just head home and maybe make lunch. I passed my favorite street musician. He was playing some Gypsy Kings songs and leaning against the guitar statue this time. You might recognize him from an earlier post. I don't care, I'll give him plenty of play here.

Then a little further down the steps I saw a particularly ballsy pigeon. Granted most of the pigeons here are either ballsy or just lazy, I'm not sure which. They really don't like to fly unless they have to. I think this one was planning to dive bomb some tourists. I took a photo. Why not.

See, I'm pretty sure you can see his little pigeon brain plotting something sinister. Or at least as sinister as a pigeon can get. Maybe he is debating pooping on some tourists. Either way, it was a fun photo to take.

So, as I walked back to the Charles Bridge I decided to explore the area around the bridge and see what I could see. That is when I discovered something pretty profound.
It has taken a little while to sort out even a few words for this, so I will begin with a photo and let the words in later. 

At first I just saw the helmet on the stone and wandered closer to see what it was about. It is surrounded by chains to keep people out and then I read the plague. To me this is pretty profound. For all the things I have heard about Czech people being selfish and rude this proves that is an exception. Maybe it's Prague that makes people that way. They are like New Yorkers maybe. No one in the states would ever say, "yep all Americans are like New Yorkers." Even then New Yorkers aren't bad people, they just have things to do.

I've been thinking about what logical reasons exist for a 911 memorial in Prague and then I have to stop myself. There is no logical reason for this. This is about compassion and solidarity. It's not some grandios copper gift we can stick in a harbor and look at every day. Many Americans will never see this. 

This is more impressive than any kind of condolence card, because of the fact that most Americans will never even know it exists. This is a simple statement in a quiet place. In fact I gather thousands of people walk past this memorial every day and never even know it is there. It is very close the the Charles Bridge. You can look of the bridge and see it if you know what you are looking for. 

I think I put the pin in the right place. Either way, I'm pretty close. 

As I was looking at the memorial and taking photos of it a few people saw I was interested in something and when they walked closer and saw what it was they just kept on walking. I am willing to bet my right arm they were not Americans. It's fine they kept walking. We usually don't think of 911 as something the rest of the world needs to be concerned about, at least I don't anyway. It is a personal thing for us and I don't really think most Americans care what the rest of the world thinks about it.

Had this memorial been some sort of political message, I'm sure there would be more fanfare surrounding it. If the Czech Republic had wanted to say, "look at us, we love America. 911 sucked." I'm sure they would have done it in some other way. 

To me this memorial is the equivalent of when you tell a friend you are having trouble with something and that person says a prayer for you without telling you about it. It is noble and you'll never have any idea about it. To me that exactly what this memorial is about; it is a prayer, said in silent, for 343 people you never knew. Not because you're supposed to. Not because someone told you to do it, but because you care and it's the right thing to do.

This simple, quiet gesture has endeared the Czech people to me. This makes up for all the lousy mustard on earth.

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