July 12th, 2013
There are things you want, and things you need. Waking up on Saturday morning I realized there were 2 things I needed; more food and shoes. My shoes were suddenly falling apart. Perhaps it was due to the kind of exercise I was doing, something called burpees. Very hard on the biceps, trapizues muscles, the legs and the shoes. As I left the hostel I asked the guy at the desk if he knew of any shoe stores. Surprisingly he did. After doing my exercises, carefully, I went to the coffee shop and then at about 11 set out to find the shoe repair shop. Amazingly it was where he said it was and it was open. Without a work, I took off my shoe and handed it to him. He understood my situation right away and with a gleam in his eye, disappeared into the back room. Guys like that are great. They like to fix stuff. Fixing things makes them happy. As I was waiting, there was a pretty young woman also waiting. I figured we had something in common, we were both waiting at the same time for shoes. After saying something rather mundane we had a delightful conversation. It turned out she was only 16 and was a king fu expert. She started telling me about her training. I started telling her about crossfit. She showed me some wicked full body exercises. I showed her my stomach (which is not a 6 pack but close) and she showed me hers, which was. My shoes were ready but we kept talking. She invited me to try to hit her and I did. Her blocks hurt like hell, She showed me bruises all over her body , but hey it wasnt like that, it was just fun and amazing that we hit it off so well. I told her where I would be playing and she said she would try to find me. Im sure I will never see her again, but for a few minutes it was like we were best of friends, until the owner of the shoe shop kicked us out. Wow, its the first time I ever got kicked out of a shoe repair shop.
Now it was time to tackle my other problem, food. You have to understand, that the only foods I was seeing around were traditional Czech foods like Pork Shoulders bathed in gravy and fast food American foods like McDonalds, Burger King, Kentucky Fried Chicken. I didnt want to eat any of that, so my normal pattern had become to go to the grocery store and buy a pint of yogurt, some whole wheat rolls, a small basket of cherry tomatoes, a banana, some carrots, some apples or oranges. It all cost about 5 dollars. I ate that food all day, and surprisingly I wasnt getting hungry at all, in fact I felt great. But the last day I started to feel like I was craving some more food, my my reserves were running low. It was time to charge up. I decided I would go to an all you could eat Indian restaurant run by the Hari Krishnas. The price was rather high (180 K) about 9 dollars, but I figured I deserved it.
When I went in I asked the guy , a HK, if he was sure it was all you can eat and if it was 180. He confirmed it. “I can eat an awful lot”, I insisted. He seemed unfaced. “You can have as much as you want I promise.” The meal was served on a Thali, a traditional Indian silver plate with sections of different foods. This one included a delicious soup, vegetable curry, a rice dish, a salad, and a desert. It was very good. The second one was also very good . The third one I ate slower and I was trying to decide whether to eat another one or quit here. Thats when the HK came up, “You just tied the record. Only a few people have managed to eat 3 of them. Congratulation”. But I heard another voice. “If you are not the best you are nothing.” It was a red flag in my face. Without missing a beat I said, “Bring me another please.” The HK didnt mind at all, in fact he seemed to be enjoying it.
He brought it out and the sight and smell of it made me rather naseous. It wasnt a strong feeling but the kind that you know if you pay attention to it, it will get bigger and bigger, until it would rush at you like a tsunami. Throwing up in an all you can eat restaurant is not something I wanted to do.
I started in slowly, breathing deeply and evenly. The HK was looking at me from time to time, so I pretented to be enjoying the food immensly. I finished the salad and the vegetalbles, but was having trouble with the rice part. There was so much of it. The idea of leaving some on my plate didnt seem like an option. It was all or nothing. On the tipping point, I finished the rice. there was only the desert left. It was my fourth one. A kind of jub glumen swimming in yogurt . I like yogurt, I can eat yogurt. Jupglum in so sweet but this was a small one, I told myself. With only 2 big bites to go, I started breathing deeply. I put my fork down and closed my eyes. The HK seemed to be walking my way. I quickly downed the 2 last bites leaned back and rubbed my tummy. “Bot that was good”. “Would you like another one? “ he asked in an almost mocking tone. “I would like one but I think I dont have time.” It was a bluff for sure, but the HK seemed impressed. “You broke the record, No one ever ate 4 before.” I was hoping that something more would happen, like balloons fall from the ceiting, or a free dinner, or my picture in the lobby, but nothing did. I just slowly paid my bill and waddled out of there stopping every 8 to 10 steps to breath deeply and not think about food. I wasnt going to eat anything for the rest of the weekend, I vowed.
I went back to the hostel and picked up my instrument and went to meet Ludska to play more music. She had to leave at about 7. In the meantime I got a message from Pavel and Hanka. They wanted to know if I wanted to go to play at a party . It sounded like fun and I agreed. Ludska took me over to where they were and we set out for the wedding. We got there about 8 pm and set up and started playing. It was Pavel, hanka, Steve, an English wanna be percussionist, and I . There were also 2 djs there. I could see it was going to be awhile before everyone got ready, and I really wanted to play so I just started wailing with the DJ music. I turned around and looked at the DJ’s but they seemed to really like it. So I kept playing until band was set up at about 830. People looked a little confused but they seemed to really like it.
Then we were playing as a band and it was fun. Pavel was such a funny and charismatic guy. He would sing a chorus of complete nonsense sounds sometimes with so much confidence that it sounded like a completely new language. Sometimes he made animal sounds and again it sounded natural but so hilarious when you realized what he was doing. Every time he did Hanka looked at him with the same dopey lovey expression as if to say, “How can I help loving this guy? Can you see why I love him so much.” We played old standard rock and roll songs like Come Together by the Beatles or Stairway to Heaven but we played them in such original ways that they sounded new. Sometimes Pavel and I got into a whistling saxophone duet or we started the song with a 10 minute solo. The audience appretiated the orginality.
After about 45 minutes, someone came running in to say that it was time for everyone to go outslde. Out there a most amazing Czech custome was happening. There were these large very thin paper bags made out of almost a crey paper and at the bottom, there were some cross strings and a square of wax. It was our job to open up the bag to its maximum size, light the wax and thenhold it aloft until the air in it got hot enough to float it up. I had seen this kind of thing before but it was first time to actually do it. I was harder than it looked. I destroyed 2 without realizing it. One the bags, people had written wishes they had for the union. “Hope you have many children; I hope you are happy for many many years to come etc” A few of the bags started floating up. Up and up they went and then 2 of them started coming down a bit. Now they were lingering near a balcony window in the apartment building next door. I wondered if this custom was actually legal. “Not really. Too many houses have burned because of this” We watched in horror and the fire bag hovered unnaturally at someones window. it looked like a peeping Tom. Luckily no one was home and finally it rose up and up and disappeared into the low hanging clouds. Finally one of our baskets caught up and rose and rose. It went straight up, not crooked like the others. Seemed like a message about sometning but I couldnt figure out what.
When the last one had been launched we went in. There was a lot of food set out. I was still full of course but a part of me wanted to try new things like pickles, cheese , etc. Not exactly what you should be eating on an exploding stomach. But I tried the Czech cheese marinate in olive oil. It was delicious. It was very soft, almost like cottage cheese. I can think of few things more unhealthy and fatty. Maybe fried cheese or fried ice cream is unhealthier, but I really couldnt stop eating it. Luckily there wasnt much left in the bowl. I finished it off. Unluckily, someone brought out another bowl. Before we started the second set I had another piece of bread or 2 slathered with the deadly mixture. We had a great time playing the next set, and for some reason I was quite sick the next day. Oh well, so much for being underfed. My shoes were fixed and my stomach was full and topped off. it had been a pretty amazing day.