In this week’s Magazine: activists demonstrate in support of direct presidential elections; Tesco decides to rename its Czech department stores; the Czech Republic sees a drop in the number of affluent tourists; and, a leggy blonde wins Czech Miss.
Facebook seems to be a social network which provokes various actions as well as reactions. Some weeks ago its ban on pictures of breastfeeding provoked a demonstration in the capital by Czech mothers. And last Saturday, it brought together people in favor of direct presidential elections - also opposed to the country’s current president, Václav Klaus. Wearing T-shirts referring to the Czech EU presidency, the activists defenestrated a mock figure of Václav Klaus, apparent “punishment” for his critical views on the EU and further integration. The problem is, as the activists see it, that the president was elected “only” by lawmakers in Parliament (not the broader public) and that his views do not accurately represent the Czechs as a nation. Passers-by watching the event were offered bread rolls dipped in rum, a reference to a popular Czech saying, opít někoho rohlíkem, to get someone drunk on a bread roll. Basically, it means to fool someone, since it’s pretty hard to get drunk on a roll alone. In other words, a common practice among Czech politicians, the activists wanted to say.
The old days are coming back… that’s how some of the Czech media commented news that the British company Tesco has decided to re-name its department stores in the Czech Republic “My”. The English pronoun “my” is pronounced the same way as the old-fashioned Czech word for the month of May which actually used to be the name of the TESCO department store on Národní třída, in the centre of Prague. And Máj is, in fact, how many Prague citizens refer to that department store even today, so re-naming the venue makes fairly good sense. The building itself has an interesting history. In 1989 it witnessed the nearby student demonstration that grew into the Velvet Revolution, while three years ago the building was added to a list of cultural heritage sites to prevent it from being pulled down. Shopping in Tesco or My on Národní třída, a building designed in the Brutalist style, is still a favorite pastime of many in the Czech capital today.
Most tourists come to the Czech Republic to stroll the narrow streets of the Old Town, take a picture of Prague Castle from the Charles Bridge and possibly to see an opera in the National Theatre. Others, however, come for different reasons than sightseeing. They want to…lose fat, have a nose job, or improve their busts. More than 6,000 people came to the Czech Republic last year for cosmetic surgery, which makes 20% of all plastic surgery performed in the country, one tourism review reports. It is the Germans, Austrians, Brits and Slovaks who represent the majority of such tourists to the Czech Republic. Besides cosmetic surgery they come for dental, orthopedic or infertility treatment and stay between 3 to 10 days in the country, which is much longer than an average tourist spends on sightseeing. Not surprisingly, the majority are women; the men – a mere 13 percent are most interested in liposuction and rhinoplasty.