I sit by the most beautiful dinner site in the world.
The Two Mary’s Restaurant by the river Vltava, in the Czech hamlet of Cesky Krumlov. History, architecture, peace, green, water flow, towers that would rival Disney’s…. And of course hoards of Chinese tourists, blocking my walking path with their selfies. (I’m told it is illegal in China for that reason.) I did resent them, their foreignness taking over this European treasure. But of course I’m a foreigner here too and there have been plenty of American tourists in China.
I’ve decided to work on this ethnocentric attitude and look for the positive. The Chinese are prospering, albeit at the cost of our American factories. And they can now send their children to sleep by me in hostels. To climb the Castle Tower beside me and examine the architecture. To sit beside me on a long bus ride and tell me, to my incredulity, that China did not invade anyone. (At least that’s what their history books say. That before Mao there was starvation and war. And that this young woman’s grandmother wept when he died. Hmm… no bad memories of the Cultural Revolution?)
What will China be like when these young people return? I’m sure they will doubt the policy of isolation. Maybe they will still tend to be followers and value family as a religion. But they will have freely explored Google and other versions of history.
I watch the Chinese women be a little bossy, in contrast to the demure Japanese ones. Well, the equalization of gender (except for babies) and class, to some degree, has made a difference. I laugh at their laughter and antics. Their obvious joy in tourism. And am hopeful for the new world.
Meanwhile the river flows by my dinner of goulash, camomile tea and sauerkraut.
Meanwhile the towers tower and point up to God or power or beauty. Below we drink beer and pay bills and plan the next day’s activities. Meanwhile life goes on.
Later, after dinner I wander a back street towards guitar music and laughter.
I don’t know the name of the bar and would never eat there but it exudes warmth, camaraderie and probably drunkenness. Yep! There a very enthusiastic Czech guitarist is inspiring clapping, dancing and sing a long. I assume that the woman and man close-dancing are local marrieds. She’s quite good, actually, and I compliment her on her solo sort-of belly-dance style, which I surmise has Turkish roots. (Ottoman Empire occupation and all that.)
She catches my eye and wanders over, happy to hear English. Czech? I don’t think so. A Kiwi with her husband watching her wanton dancing. We talk and she confesses all. She’s glad she survived an aneurysm, although her friend didn’t. It makes her sort of doubt God. But her husband is retiring as a pilot soon and they’ll buy property and she’ll grow vegetables. I promise her I’ll come to Auckland, New Zealand and help her. (Although I don’t know if she’ll remember me in the morning.)
It’s a good way to end the multicultural day. With ice cream, a Kiwi contact, celebration of the Chinese’s new freedom and singing.
Life is good. Die happy—I remind both of us.