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Tuesday, January 12, 2016


U Bakaláře--Prague

U Bakaláře, a neighborhood joint in Strašnice. A handful of men standing outside saw their friends from 30 yards away, so they started shouting and chanting. Since many of them had soccer towels on, I assumed it was a soccer chant. Though I knew there was no game that day, I looked at one of the guys outside and said, "Football? TV?" while making a square shape with my hands. Though I sounded like an idiot, it was enough to convey my desire to go inside, so one dude actually grabbed me by the sleeve. With him shouting very cheerfully, we entered. Knowing only two Czech words, "pivo" [beer] and "most" [bridge], I could only sit and observe. The atmosphere, though, taught me plenty, for these guys simply enjoyed being together. There was no music, only a silent TV showing a bicycle race. Every so often, they'd erupt into songs or chants. They just loved being boisterous. Not wanting to disrupt anything, I didn't take out my camera until nearly everyone had left. Thus, this rather forlorn photo. The nearest man was there the whole time, but his focus was strictly on his smart phone. Whenever he was done with a mug, the bartender would bring him a fresh one, but he never even looked up.



Anonymous said...

Is Prague still relatively cheap? I was there in 1993, prices were very low for non-luxury things.
Have you visited the bone church in Kutna Hora? One of the weirdest things anyone has ever seen.

Linh Dinh said...

Hi Anonymous,

Yeah, the Czech Republic is still very cheap, but Poland is even cheaper. I just got back from visiting three Polish towns right by the German border. I'll post photos starting tomorrow. Yesterday, I dozed off for half a minute on my train, so missed my stop. I ended up walking over an hour in the snow through the beautiful Polish countryside. Following the tracks, I made it back to where I was supposed to be. I rewarded myself with a decent hot meal of pork patty, mashed potato and three types of slaws plus a large bottle of beer. All of that cost $4.75. Since it wasn't a full service restaurant, there was no tip.


Linh Dinh said...

P.S. Today, I had lunch at the same place. For a plate of eight potato filled "Russian" pierogi and a large bottle of beer, I paid $2.80.

LJansen said...

Love pierogi!


About Me

Born in Vietnam in 1963, I came to the US in 1975, and have also lived in Italy, England and Germany. I'm the author of two books of stories, Fake House (2000) and Blood and Soap (2004), five of poems, All Around What Empties Out (2003), American Tatts (2005), Borderless Bodies (2006), Jam Alerts (2007) and Some Kind of Cheese Orgy (2009), and a novel, Love Like Hate (2010). I've been anthologized in Best American Poetry 2000, 2004, 2007, Great American Prose Poems from Poe to the Present, Postmodern American Poetry: a Norton Anthology (vol. 2) and Flash Fiction International: Very Short Stories From Around the World, etc. I'm also editor of Night, Again: Contemporary Fiction from Vietnam (1996) and The Deluge: New Vietnamese Poetry (2013). Blood and Soap was chosen by Village Voice as one of the best books of 2004. My writing has been translated into Italian, Spanish, French, Dutch, German, Portuguese, Japanese, Korean, Arabic, Icelandic and Finnish, and I've been invited to read in London, Cambridge, Brighton, Paris, Berlin, Leipzig, Halle, Reykjavik, Toronto, Singapore and all over the US. I've also published widely in Vietnamese.