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TrouserQuest, Day Two, Plus Making A Backup Plan

August 14, 2012

Well, I found the mall that my friend Julie Kwho lived and taught in Prague a few years agolocated for me… from America.  (Julie does, indeed, rule.)  Turns out it’s not exactly a mall; there are a couple of small stores inside, but it’s mostly…

INTERSPAR!

The INTERSPAR mothership. Pahahaha.  They’re everywhere.  There’s a clothing store, called Kik, but the selection is rather limited and leans heavily toward distressed jeans and sweatpants.  I don’t think sweatpants will convey quite the air of academic gravitas I’m looking for, and my regular clothes are already sufficiently distressed, thanks.

Pants! Not quite the right kind of pants, but still… Pants!

I did find a really nice pair of shoes, for 499 CZK, about $25.  They’ll look better for interviews and will be much better for walking than the cheap loafers I’ve been padding around in.  I know, I know, you’d think a blog about the Czech Republic would have pictures of castles, not sneakers from a discount store.  Well, this is a record of my life, which lacks grand historical sweep at the moment.  You can always google the castles.

Upgrading my footwear from beach bum (L) to Euro wannabe (R).

Well, since INTERSPAR is not going to provide me with teacher pants, I started playing around in google translate, trying all the different word combinations I could think of for men and their trousers, and, after a bit of experimentation, we have a winner.  The operable phrase is apparently kalhoty pánské—pánské, rather counterintuitively, meaning men’s—which turns up several hits on google maps that look like just what I need, including the Centrum building, which I have walked by numerous times without knowing that it was a department store.

Menswear, fourth floor, going up!

So after I finish up my plate from the salad bar here at the Restaurace INTERSPAR, I’ll be hopping the tram back to the city center. Incidentally, I learned how to punch a tram ticket properly today.  Taking a moment to examine what one is doing is often helpful.

Wrong.

Right.

Oh, and I managed to ask for two tickets: jízdenky is the plural of jízdenka, (my first grammatical induction!), so I said that and held up two fingers.  It’s not two words, but it’s a modified word, paired with a relevant gesture.  One day I’ll use two words together.

Pulling back for a moment a bit to the big picture… Although I intend to give it everything I’ve got here, I believe the facts warrant a backup plan.  I contacted my friend Alex in Chengdu, China.  Though I have some reservations about living in China, there are several advantages to buddying up with Alex, rather than just going to some random place.  It would be really great to have a friend during my first year abroad, and especially to have one who’s an excellent and experienced teacher.  We could share a flat and save quite a bit of money.  He’s got the connections to get me a much better job than I could find on my own in China.

(For those of you new to my obsessive bloggage, I wrote extensively about our travels in China two summers ago over at Dave In China, on LiveJournal. It would be fun to pick that one back up again.)

So this may turn out to be just a strange Czech interlude.

Or it may not.  Those pants at Centrum might do the trick.  Maybe the right employer will take one look at my CV and my spiffy professional demeanor and get right down to brass tacks with the work papers… you never know.

Stranger things have happened.  I finally heard someone say ahoj today, which the phrase and guide books say I should be hearing all the time.  (There’s a lot wrong in those things; don’t get me started.)  It was a 3-year-old child, but at least I know that someone actually does say it.  I don’t need to be worrying that what little I am retaining from the phrasebook  is all wrong.

UPDATE:  Got a nice pair of beige slacks at Centrum.  I could probably use a jacket and tie, but at least I am now somewhat presentable.

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17 Comments leave one →
  1. Sibyl White permalink
    August 14, 2012 1:59 pm

    So, Alex has his own papers in order now? I am thinking you are hanging on a month there in CZ, no? You remember my travels in Germany when I was isolated and a friend would have made all the diff? I still think Brno is the right place for you so my hope is find a friend there. Have you tried hanging out at a larger language school? Or even taking your guitar to the common area there at the hostel and singing a few songs? That ought to bring somebody out. Trying to be creative here. Love, Mom

    • August 14, 2012 4:07 pm

      He enrolled in a college course in Chinese, which makes him a student, and totally kosher with the authorities and his employer. It sounds like he’s doing much better.

      No telling what will happen, but I think it’s good to have a plan B.

      • August 14, 2012 4:23 pm

        Cool. Does it follow, then, that you might do likewise in Brno? A Czech course, perhaps?

      • August 14, 2012 4:54 pm

        If I stay here, I am sure at some point I will want instruction in the language. For now, I’m really enjoying picking it up in the natural environment. I’m starting to notice certain words that commonly recur, and am beginning to guess a bit at certain words in context. You know me, I’m a go-with-the-flow go and I like to learn in my own way. But I’m sure there would come a point before long where I would want some help and guidance.

      • August 14, 2012 5:17 pm

        Was thinking more along the lines of visa requirements for students, like could you buy some time if you were taking a class? I have not seen this addressed anywhere.

      • August 14, 2012 5:56 pm

        Oh, that. I’ve heard that definitely does not fly in Europe. If you get caught working on a student visa, it’s bad news. China is different.

    • August 14, 2012 6:45 pm

      Forgot to say that I appreciate your ideas – good stuff. The public area of the hostel would not be a good place for me to play guitar, but there is a jazz club and I am going there tonight to check it out. I made a list of all the jazz songs I know or could work up fairly easily and it was almost 75, so I may record a couple and see if I can get a happy hour gig or something. Definitely need to get music happening if I’m going to stay here. That’s always how I make friends.

      Had a good day today. Got my interview clothes and got my CV printed out. Talked to a friend from the CELTA course. I’ll try to cobble together a post later.

      • August 14, 2012 8:09 pm

        Thanks, Dave. Guess I’m stuck in the mom-rut, you know. And for sure, I do think your music will pull you through in so many ways. Appreciate not being a pesty pest on this end. Is there wisdom in 70? I dunno. Love you mucho.

  2. Norberto permalink
    August 14, 2012 3:27 pm

    I notice that you use the word ‘tram’ now. This pleases me.

    I notice that INTERSPAR have quite a presence in the Brno economy. That said, maybe they’re everywhere and nobody has noticed them yet? I hear they just blend into the surroundings.

    • August 14, 2012 4:05 pm

      I’d like to say tramvaj, but it feels a little precious. I wish a pram was a pramvaj, but no such luck. On Christmas I wonder if they bake a hamvaj. Well, I’ll stop that now.

      INTERSPAR does seem to dominate the retail market, though I haven’t seen enough of the city outside the center to say for sure. I like the name; it sounds like something from a Philip K. Dick story.

  3. August 15, 2012 1:56 pm

    INTERSPAR does control the mind by interjecting conflicting ideas into your brain by way of nanocyberfibers. The fact that you’re considering China is proof of the INTERSPAR effect, also known as INTERSPARTINENT.

    • August 15, 2012 2:00 pm

      Dammit! I can’t edit or delete these comments. Now everyone will know that I don’t look at the screen while typing or proofread after I’m done.

      “you’re” and a better nanocyberfibers name is INTERSPARTICULATE TM

      • August 15, 2012 2:47 pm

        Oddly, I am able to edit your comment. That’s a lot of power, but rest assured, I will use it only for good.

        Your comments is are most INTERSPARTAINING. One of the best things I’ve seen today on the INTERSPARNET.

      • August 15, 2012 3:26 pm

        See, I did it, too. “Your comments is…” INTERSPARFURIATING.

      • August 15, 2012 3:55 pm

        INTERSPARTACULOUS EDIT!

  4. Louis permalink
    August 15, 2012 7:10 pm

    Just looking at all that foreign language on this tickets would be overwhelming to me.

    • August 15, 2012 7:32 pm

      The writing is much easier than the speech. I pick up a few new words out of almost anything I read, but I rarely catch anything new when people are talking. I’m lucky to recognize common, simple, words I “know.”

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