Competitions · Short Stories

Czech Tweet Competition: Tweets and Results

Brief: Share a “Czech experience” in tweet form (I.e. 140 characters).

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Tweet 1 by Jakub Kovar

Fell on my ass. Got up and fell again. Worst of all – crowd of stupid teenagers laughed at me. #IHateSnow #IHateCobblestones #IHateThisCity

Tweet 2 by Roderick Mitchell Jr. 

Shoutout from #Jesenik! #amateurmushroomhunting #delicious

UPDATE: Should have brought a guide #tripping-balls #meltingsky #ohgodwhy

Tweet 3 by Carlos Alderete

The entire Moravian population amounts to nothing more than half a million inbred savages bristling for complexity & distinction. #czechness

Tweet 4 by Maria Karamanoglou

I don’t need glory.I’m happy doing my job.I’m an everyday person, a driver,I’ll placidly shut the door at your face when you enter the tram.

Tweet 5 by Polly Story-Lebl

Cobbles, Pokemon, and iphones equal scraped knees and twisted ankles #GottaCatchEmAll

Tweet 6 by Allie Ferguson

Hey @Zeman are you going to #MakePragueGreatAgain?

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Judges: Seven judges were asked to choose their top three and points were given accordingly (1st – 3 points, 2nd – 2 points, 3rd – 1 point). The contestants will also receive feedback from all of the judges.

Results: Congratulations to RODERICK MITCHELL JR. !!!! 

 

results

 

 

Short Stories

This is Prague – Lucy Hadfield

It wasn’t long before I fell in love with Prague. It was fate that had brought me to this enigmatic city and like many others, I had stumbled upon this beautiful place unexpectedly and over time was finding myself becoming continuously attached to its slow paced, relaxed and in some ways, more backwards way of lifestyle that gives it that alluring, authentic and honest aura. Maybe it’s because of the history of this country, that its people are more compelled to lead a life that follows the mentality that ‘shit happens’ whereby ‘what you see is what you get’ and people don’t cut corners or find the time to be so judgemental in your style or way about life. Prague’s easy going and spontaneous rhythm of life style is one of its greatest characteristics that it effortlessly bestows, which had me captivated and has kept me fascinated.

Its aesthetic beauty gives it a dream-like and sentimental feel. The rich maroon red and orange rooftops clustered together against its mint green spires and turrets that stand disordered against the skyline, are constantly unveiled to the eye in the distance of every wide, hill-top road for which you stand. Dark outlines of its silhouettes stand out prominently, as if someone were to have withdrawn a black ink pen and traced a perfect line around the outlines of these gothic and baroque styled buildings against the blazing pink and orange sunset, that never fails to emerge at the end of a summers afternoon.

Its pastel colours of purple to pinks, to blues, greens and yellows spread themselves over the city, yet you always come to discover a difference between each building from the intricate hand painted décor, sculpture or statues, or its balconies occupied by its diverse inhabitants, each balcony exposing a trace of one of the intriguing characters lives that walks the cobbled streets below.

I see road workers, their hands as withered and as dry as a sanded desert head to toe in red work ovals; their long, wiry grey hair tied up behind their backs laying out cement on the newly made area of roads. They are pausing to have a break and seek shade, sitting along a wall next to one another, chatting, laughing sheltered by the trees, smoking cigarettes and drinking cans of beer.

I see elderly woman, sitting on street benches dressed in matching patterned skirts and blouses of vibrant patterns and colours, that look as if they were originally worn in the sixties. Clutching trollies of food shopping in one hand and sitting back watching the chaotic streets of rush hour that lie before them. There decrepit old faces are filled with nostalgia and resentment, looking confused and lost by the changing ways of life that surrounds them. You can see the frustration in those stubborn, beady eyes that dart across the array of passers by. Sometimes I would be on a tram returning from the centre of town and the same elderly characters would be found stationery in the exact same spot and two hours will have already passed.

I see the homeless hoarders, wondering the endless streets like lost souls. Pausing at every corner with their large, blue plastic bags, diving hungrily into bin after bin to dig out waste food, newspapers, clothes, books, blankets, kitchen appliances and later, I would spot these characters grazing in the blazing hot sun of Karlova Namesti Park. Lying beneath the patches of shade, their bodies curled up on their sides, clutching at their blue bags that behold all the possessions they own, guarding their life with their life whilst resting in the peaceful tranquillity of this space.

I see parks in every district I walk, beautifully preserved and looked after, with outstanding view points. Another effortless element this city adds to its charm.

I see groups of the youth, others that have just finished a long day’s work, runners, guitarists, ex-pats, groups of athletes and acrobat enthusiasts all gathered to take a beer, smoke a joint and watch the sun set against the viewpoint of the old city. Diverse crowds of people coming together to appreciate the beauty of this place as much as I.

And it is often happening, that I will find myself forgetting that Prague is a capital city which for me, is one of the most distinct and unique rareities it beholds.

Unlike any other capital city I have walked through, I don’t feel stressed by its people compared to other places where locals would barge past and hundreds of crowds of people will continue from morning to night to take up all the space upon the majority of the streets. One thing I observed that occurred to me during the first few months of my time here, was that the majority of the city was at its most emptiest and quietist on the weekends. This is because many shop owners and their families or partners will go spend their free time in their holiday houses elsewhere within the Czech Republic. As I have found myself walking through Zizkov or Vinohrady on a Saturday or Sunday, I was always curious as to why it was noticeably so much more quieter and subdued compared to weekdays, but after having asked a few locals, I soon understood why. This really put into perspective for me, how small this country of ten million is. Where would you find in any other capital city such a weekend as quiet as in Prague? The answer being, you wouldn’t.

The fact that this countries so undiscovered and low key and being in the very center of Europe fascinates me even more. It is still a hidden treasure for which I hope it shall remain to be. As locals inform me that Prague is continuing to expand in size, I am curious to see how or if it will change dramatically in years to come.

From its obscure, eccentric open minded people, to its well reserved outstandingly beautiful buildings both in the suburbs and inner city, to all the natural beauty in all of its parks and by the riverside, and to the creativity its inspired within me and that constantly surrounds me,

This is Prague.

Short Stories

The Eggs – Sandhira Chetty

I knew the first day of summer camp would be a success before it even started. I smiled as I wrote down the last few materials needed, picturing their elated faces when I announced that we would be constructing gingerbread houses, envisioning their hungry grins widening as they scrounged through the rainbow of sweets to adorn their biscuit-houses, my lip curling smugly as I foresaw them devouring their finished houses. I couldn’t wait.

***

The night before, I walked to a small supermarket to get the ingredients: M&Ms, chocolate-coated nuts, jelly worms, biscuits, marshmallows and miniscule edible stars and dinosaurs. As I picked each item, the delighted faces of my Korean middle-schoolers popped into my head. I would be a hero. The greatest thing since Psy. I walked like a champion to the till with my basket of goods.

On the way, I passed a hunched-over ajumma* who stopped in the middle of lowering a packet of sugar from the shelf to peer inquisitively into the foreigner’s basket. Her lingering eyes travelled from my basket up to my face. Her curiosity not satisfied, she then hobbled over, stopped inches from my face and raised her left hand slowly (her right hand still clutched at the packet of sugar). For one bizarre second I thought she was about to slap me. But she didn’t. She rested the back of her weathered hand on my face and gently stroked it. Her face creased into a warm smile as she did so and without saying a single word, she turned and continued with her shopping.

I gave myself a few seconds to let whatever just happened to me sink in and then proceeded to the till to pay. I left my browning-green 10 000 Won* note on the counter while the old cashier scanned all my items. Just then another ajumma appeared at my side and placed her goods and a 10 000 Won note on the counter just next to mine, completely ignoring the queue behind me.

Infuriated by the queue-jumping ajumma, I hastily shoved my items towards the cashier before the ajumma could, and somehow, by not-so-divine intervention, I mistakenly pushed the ajumma’s 10 000 Won note to the cashier instead of mine.

Not even my mother shouted at me like that ajumma did. She beat the air with her arms. She pointed fingers. She banged her fists on the counter. Neither of us listened to the other; she screamed at me in Korean while I apologised in English and Korean over and over again. I felt my face growing hot as the eyes of the old cashier and the other customers bounced between us. I didn’t know what was worse –

  1. Being scolded by a tiny ajumma
  2. Being accused of stealing 10 000 Won
  3. Being scolded for stealing 10 000 Won (a mistake), which could have been avoided had she not jumped the queue (not a mistake)

 

After about ten minutes of Charades in an attempt to explain my mistake, followed by more apologies, she finally gave up and left me alone. I paid (with my money) and left.

***

As I imagined, my kids’ eyes lit up when I walked into class the next day. They made a bee-line for the bulging packets clutched in my hands and in frenzied excitement spilt the contents on the table. But then their faces crumpled in confusion.

“Sam-Sam, where is eggs?”

My heart dropped to somewhere in the depths of my stomach. The eggs were still in the shop. I forgot the most important ingredient for their edible constructions; without the eggs the houses would fall apart.

My school was located in the sleepy Korean countryside. A one-way trip to the closest shop took 20 minutes. Their lesson was only 90 minutes long – I had no choice but to run. It was 32 degrees outside; sweat dripped from you when you stood in the shade. But I ran. And I ran. I didn’t stop running until I reached the small grocery shop.

I barged through the door clumsily as a result of my urgent running, making the sleepy shop keeper, who was literally busy killing flies, freeze and cast a terrified glance in my direction. Sweat streaming down my forehead and back like mini waterfalls, my hair sticking up at odd ends and my heavy panting filling the small, dark shop, I ignored his alarmed stare and frozen fly-swatter, and scanned the shop. I spotted an orange sack containing three eggs hanging by the counter and grabbed it. I could tell the shop keeper was terribly confused: the running, the barging through the door, the sweating and panting, only to grab a sack of three eggs?

“1000 Won,” he mumbled hesitantly as I laid the lonely sack of eggs on the counter.
One dollar. I opened my wallet and instantly felt my blood turn cold. I didn’t have the dollar. I hurriedly unzipped the coin section of my wallet and counted (and prayed):

100 Won, 200 Won, 300 Won, 400 Won, 500 Won…almost there, 600 Won, 700 Won…please God, 800 Won, 900 Won – bloody hell.

100 Won short. I looked at the shop keeper. He looked back.

Just then I felt the slightest tap on my shoulder. I turned my head, but no one was there. I looked down and saw a shrivelled man seated in a wheel chair that was far too big for him. He must have been at least 90-years-old, and it looked as if someone had soaked him in a bath for four hours. He had about five strands of white hair which were neatly combed to the side and his eyes were barely open as he stared at me. He was dressed in hospital clothes and he had a drip connected to his arm. I didn’t even hear him entering.

His tiny arm was outstretched towards me. I noticed it trembled slightly. Something was clenched in his fist. I held out my hand and he dropped it on my palm.

It was a 100 Won coin. I really didn’t want to take the ancient man’s coin. But I really needed those eggs. So I said “kamsamnida*” about five times and took it. And I got my eggs. Anyway, it would all be worth it when the kids made their gingerbread houses.

I ran back to school.

“I’ve got the eggs!” I yelled as I practically fell into the classroom.

I left the eggs on the table and flopped down in the nearest chair to catch my breath.

“Sam-Sam…this egg,” came the hesitant voice of one of my middle-schoolers.

“Yes, I got the eggs, now let’s START!”

“Ah, no, Sam-Sam, this egg…I don’t know English word.”

She took out her phone and typed the Korean word into a translating application. She handed me the phone.

“Boiled egg”.
*ajumma: old Korean lady

*10 000Won: roughly $10

*kamsamnida: thank you