30. 11. 2006
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Britské listy

ISSN 1213-1792


Jan Čulík


Karel Dolejší


Michal Panoch, Jan Panoch

Grafický návrh:

Štěpán Kotrba

ISSN 1213-1792
deník o všem, o čem se v České republice příliš nemluví
30. 11. 2006

Conservative, my ass!

I just realized that today is the day of `Sintemaarten' in Holland. This is a day comparable to the English Halloween I guess, only that we do not dress up. Little kids go out on the streets with lit lanterns and ring the bells of houses to sing songs for candy. I wonder if my little nephew has gone walking with his lantern today. Shanti has just turned four, would this have been the first time he went? Sintemaarten, a day that reminds me of days when the evening arrives early, trees without leafs, at the foot of winter and the turmoil around Christmas.

Funny to think about this while my day here in Buenos Aires has been roasting; had lunch out on the terrace in the blasting sun, have been rubbing with sunscreen, have helped Gaston with his sensitive Scottish skin that, after having drunk a mate in the park yesterday and staying out in the sun too long, now looks awfully red and painful, while hiding behind my sunglasses all along. I am getting quite a color already and that without intense sunbathing. The sun is so ridiculously strong here, that just a coffee and a magazine on the terrace or a mate in the park, where I have permanently moved to, for one or two hours a day is more then enough. Or better to say, all you can handle! Any longer then that could get painful.

These days I do not need my mobile phone anymore. Anyone looking for me knows where to find me, in the park: `parque las Heras', which we refer to as `playa las Heras', the beach. Even though it is nothing more then a square of grass with trees on it, in the middle of the city with cars, buses and taxi's flying by on all four sides, it's a little oasis and most of all, next to my house! Regarded as everyone's back garden due to a lack of private space outside, the porteños treat this space very `privately', which means they literally lie in their bikinis and swimming shorts here!

I have to say I find this a very funny observation, since South America in general would be associated with or thought off as conservative. Even worse so, half of them in this city come from Italian backgrounds, the inventors of the word `conservative'! This reminds me of when I was in Italy with my Italian sister in law, Francesca, and got my first taste of conservativeness at its best.

We were sitting at a river shore with only three or four other people around for miles, but when I wanted to take my clothes off to sunbathe in my bikini, Francesca was getting nervous, afraid it might make the others around feel uncomfortable. Yet this same lady lies herself in nothing more then a bikini when it comes to a piece off grass in Amsterdam, so maybe we could conclude from this that Italians are only conservative when they are in Italy?

Buenos Aires is very contradictive in this `double-moral' sense. A bus journey is enough to show you both sides to the inside out! While sitting on the bus and looking out onto the streets, giant billboards fly over and pass by with women in very exposed, seductive positions advertising underwear, while underneath the billboard there may be a church and everyone in the bus crosses themselves.

Some people, to my great entertainment, really do it with each church the bus passes by. I swear to god, they must know from previous research done in great debt, where all these churches are, because I have made a hobby out of trying to spot the church by the bus window when everyone gets in a sudden fit of crossing themselves, and was often unable to so much sense the presence of a church!

Now I am one of those people who have only set foot in a church with a dangling camera around my neck for one of the following two purposes: a wedding or tourism. I get nervous when I am around religious people, afraid they might smell me and recognize me as an atheist. But that is not to say I do not believe. I believe in many things. I only do not follow what is told by one man or one book on how to live my life. Instead I follow anything I come across with in life and consider valuable. I absorb the new learned lesson and from there I try always to treat life with this in mind. I learn from the people I meet and have spoken to, I learn from things I randomly hear, in songs, books or on the street, I learn with my heart, which I think is a really old heart and already knows and recognizes a lot of things and tells me if something is good or bad.

Today I learned something of the back of a sugar bag in a nice little French café close to `Avenida 9 de Julio', one of the biggest streets that crosses through the city, one of the widest in the world with 16 lanes next to each other and the one on which you will find the famous `Obelisko' statue that you doubtless will see on any postcard from Buenos Aires. I sat there having a nice café, when I started reading the texts written on the back and took out my notebook to write them down. One of them read: `Searching for my destiny, I conclude that my destiny only consists of the search'.

I flipped the sugar bag between my fingers thinking this over. What is our destiny? In a brutal but true way all we know for certain is that one-day, we die. If we know this for certain, then wouldn't it be better to just accept it, rather then spending our time being afraid of death? It seems like a complete waste of time now that I think about it this way, to be afraid of the inevitable. Yet I have to admit I am terrified. I once heard a Dutch cabaret artist say; "I am addicted to love because I am terrified of death. Only with feeling love I feel I am still alive".

I had never related these two with each other, but I think I could say that I too am addicted to love. Does that mean my fear for death is bigger and more serious than I have ever granted it attention? I thought my search for love came from a fear of being alone, but then what always bothered me about this theory is that it makes no sense to be afraid of being alone, since we are always alone. You can have people around you, but they never become part of you. Sharing is most that we do, but in the end, from the beginning, it will all come down to the individual. We come alone, we go alone. So why spend all that time in between being afraid of `being alone'? Just like dying, it's again an `inevitability' that seem useless to fear.

I sit here, in the park next to the football field, writing and thinking about all this, while having a mate and looking at my sweaty friends running after the ball in the late afternoon heat. Every now and then one runs up to me and begs me to go and buy him some water.

I find it peaceful and vibrant to sit here looking at them and letting my head run off into thoughts. And like that my eye catches sight of the newspaper beside me on the little plastic table, where Gaston had left it, with a little booklet inside he had bought off someone for one peso on the subway today. Looking through the booklet of short stories I see a story that coincides so much with the thoughts I have just been having it sends chills down my spine. I start reading:

"-What is truth?

-Truth is that that I am looking for.

-And have you found it?

-No. That is why I am looking for it.

-Do you think you'll find it soon?v -Could be, one day for sure I'll find it.

-That is what you think, or hope for?

-What I hope for.


-Because I am on the way.

-What is the way?

-The way of hope.

-Where does it lead to?

-To the truth.

-Are you sure?

-Very sure, no. You always want certainties!

-So then, why are you walking?

-To advance.

-Towards the unknown?

-Forced naturally, I am going to get to know what is now regarded as the unknown.

-So, you are walking just to walk.


-Do you think you'll be long, marching on like this?

-All my life."

And then I think, laying the little booklet back on the table as I answer another desperate call for a bottle of water from a dried out amateur football player, that maybe that is the only thing we can focus on: trying to find the truth before we die.

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