Friday, June 10, 2016

My first cultural shock in Prague trip…

Many of my female European colleagues used to bug me to describe my cultural shock on my first abroad trip to Germany. I know what they wanted to hear from me and I used to say I never experienced cultural shock. To embarrass me further, they ask me how I felt about the display of affection in public places. I said that ‘it is common these days in every part of the world’ to which their eyebrows went up in surprise. Little did I know that I’m getting ready for my first cultural shock in my second trip to Prague.

      Within 10 days of my solo trip to Vienna, another long weekend opened the doors to Prague with a sunny weather forecast. From this trip onwards, I started following the weather forecast closely while planning my trips. I reserved a wonderful hostel for 10 euros per night and travelled through blablacar that got me another good deal. It took me around 4 hours to reach Prague from Munich. Next morning, I took local currency (Czech crown) from ATM and visited the nearby tourist information center. A girl from US approached me and asked me to join 'Free Walking Tour'. The word "free" motivated me enough to join her who introduced me to a group. That tour introduced us to all the major tourist attractions in Prague with a commentary about the history, kingdoms, world war, civil war, political situation, economy and culture. It was a wonderful tour and at the end of it we need to pay for the guide’s service if we consider the tour worth paying. Later, I tasted Czech cuisine (a few rolls) and visited John Lennon wall. In the evening I met a few more enthusiastic blokes who said that Prague has a great night life. I joined them and hopped to different clubs and pubs, which have free entry, listening to the music and dancing with them. It was quite an experience and fun as I never hopped around the pubs before.

      While I was coming back to hostel in the mid-night, a guy stopped me and invited me to a club that has an entry fee of 20 euros. I laughed at him and said that he got the wrong person as I won’t spend even a penny on these clubs/pubs. He was persistent and wanted me to have a look for a couple of minutes and then decide. He escorted me for a quick visit to a club for free and I thought that it is just like any other pub/club. But, it felt like another dark world. There were many big halls inside the club. Each hall has a podium and many tables and decorated with a different theme. The employees of that club are busy entertaining the guests on the podium and also on the tables. The guy who escorted me walked very quickly and I had to capture everything at a quick glance. While following him, there was a time when I wanted to have a second glance and turned my head back sharply to almost 180 degrees keeping my mouth and eyes wide open. After a quick visit to the club, we came outside and that guy noticed my shell-shocked expressions. He smiled and said that it is time to pay 20 euros and enjoy the ambience. Then I had to change my facial expressions to suit disappointment and said that it is below par and not up to my standards. He argued for a long time that it is the best club in Prague and finally gave up after realizing that I’m not ready to spend even a penny.

      Unable to come out of that shock, I trudged in that lane and was interrupted by another guy. He escorted me to the club in front of him saying that it is free of cost and I need to pay only for the drinks. As I’m a teetotaler, I had a smile inside my heart and followed him. He asked me to sit at a table with 5 chairs. There are already 4 guests busy watching the entertainment around. Two of the guests seem to be a newly married couple from an Asian country and the other two are American girls visiting Europe. I had mixed emotions flowing through my body. I am embarrassed to turn my head to get a glimpse of the entertainment around, uncomfortable sitting with the girls on that table at such a place and excited to pinch myself and realize which part of the world am I in. To get rid of nervousness, I initiated a quick talk with two girls sitting beside me. After a couple of minutes, I could not sit there for any longer and walked quickly towards my hostel.

      This was my first cultural shock for many reasons. Firstly, I always thought that pubs and clubs are only to drink and dance. Secondly, I always used to think that only men go to such places.

Charles Bridge
Old town square
Prague Castle
Museums inside castle
Astronomical clock
Dancing House
Powder Tower
Petrin Lookout tower
David Cerny Babies
John Lennon wall

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