Prague Hotels Articles

July 3, 2010

Essays: Reality

The Other Place

It was -2 F today, and I went down to the mall and walked around a little; and as I did so, walking easily around the mall in five-minute circles, I wondered whether there were other people who had “other places.” A girl writing a column in our small-town newspaper dreams of the Caribbean; in fact, she’s traveling there next month. The article ends by saying she has the “travel bug,” a type that, unlike the flu bug, won’t go away. But this girl is young, and I suspect, the Caribbean is an infatuation of the moment, not an “other place.” An “other place” can be a child’s imaginary world, or a place to escape to by reading books or writing them.

My original family and my present family all write. I am reminded of my mother in the 70’s in her modern, lonely house. Besides spending a fair amount of the time moving the furniture around, she was also writing a novel. It was about Montreal – not English or French Montreal, but Hungarian Montreal. My mother had a thing about Hungarians, and maintained that the only truly happy time of her life was when she had lived in Montreal. I have a feeling that the small village of Little Shelford in southern England was not much of a stimulus for her, but the interior life of Hungarian migrs in Montreal was.

For my brother, who married a Hispanic and spent time in Chile, Chile was always the “other place” he wrote about in novels while his wife worked at Tesco’s. But my other place is Prague. Even today I can fly off to Prague, courtesy of that most innocuous of escape routes, my computer keyboard.

Ah, Prague, my lost love – irreplaceable, even by a Caribbean beach. Once I tried to find my mother’s other place, Montreal. I spent nine months there, pursuing my mother’s dream of color and friendship, but the cold gnawed my bones and I found it dirty, French and friendless. So an “other place” is not interchangeable.

Why Prague? That’s where I fell in love, for one thing, and there was something special about that time and that place. In 1991 everything was terribly simple. Simplicity has an otherness all of its own and may be one of the main reasons people travel. I came from a home which was tarnished with the complexity of capitalism. But when I went to Prague, where the infrastructure was still Communist, and the only vegetables one could buy were apples, tomatoes and peppers everything smelt sharper. Isn’t that why a lot of middle-class people

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