Photo: Kristýna Maková

Czechs can look forward to a gorilla reality show. Crows from Russia get the cold shoulder. And, a famous skeleton takes a trip by car. Find out more in Magazine with Daniela Lazarova.

Photo: Tom Harpel,  CC BY 2.0 Generic
Czech ornithologists have appealed to the public not to destroy migrating birds' nests and harm crows who annually migrate to the Czech lands from Russia. Fear of the spread of the lethal bird flu virus from Russia and countries further east has resulted in people trying to drive away flocks from their towns and villages. Ornithologists point out that the incubation period of the dreaded H5N1 virus is around 48 hours and the migrating birds take much longer to make the journey. In particular the crows from Russia spend approximately a week getting here, which means that any infected birds would have died on the way. In an effort to protect migrating birds amidst the growing panic, the Czech Ornithological Society is spreading the word by radio, newspapers and TV broadcasts as well as on its own web pages. It maintains that there is no known case to date where a human has been infected with the dreaded virus by a migrating bird.

Photo: CTK
Halloween is just one day ahead of All Souls Day - the day on which people in the Czech Republic pay their respects to the departed. And although the tradition of Halloween is slowly catching on as well, especially with children for whom All Souls Day has much less to offer, most Czechs cling to their own tradition of Dusicky or Souls. "In the West this holiday is a happy and boisterous one, ours is sad and nostalgic -that is the Slav way", was how one Czech commentator put it recently. On November 2nd millions of people head to their family graves with wreaths, flowers and candles to pay their respects to the departed and spend a quiet moment or two thinking about what was, how much they miss their loved ones and how time flies. Around the Dusicky holidays graveyards can be seen from far way - they are a sea of flickering candles surrounded by masses of flowers.

And -speaking of the dead - according to the AFP news agency an increasing number of Germans are making their final journey via the Czech Republic. To be precise via crematoriums near the Czech German border. This is not only because of lower costs but also due to a law left over from the Adolf Hitler era that stipulates that ashes must be taken to the cemetery for burial. Czech laws are far more lenient, allowing relatives to make their own choice in the matter or follow the wishes of the diseased. People take the ashes home, disperse them in a place the diseased loved or lay them in the family grave. Some Czech crematoriums even offer services such as using a rocket or balloon to disperse the ashes in the sky which is forbidden in Germany. So it seems that anyone who wants to go with a bang must come to the Czech Republic to do it.

Thousands of Czech tv viewers have taken a fancy to reality shows. Five or six of them are currently being aired. Unexpectedly Prague's Troja Zoo has announced it will run a reality show of its own, which is to be broadcast on Czech TV or on-line. It should be pretty much along the lines of other reality shows except it will feature gorillas instead of people. The gorilla reality show is to be called Revelation and it will include a daily "gorilla language course". We think that if viewers find it interesting to watch the behaviour of humans shut in a villa for three months, then they may also be interested in watching the behaviour of gorillas and finding out more about them, a spokesman for the zoo explained. The zoo wants to use the present wave of interest in reality shows to promote an interest in animals - in particular in gorillas - and the money raised by SMS messages will go towards protecting gorillas living in the wild. As for the gorillas taking part in the show - they'll get something out of it as well: 11 ripe melons, according to the zoos director. The main prize is no coincidence, the word melon is the Czech slang for one million crowns and the main prize in the most popular reality show currently on air is 11 million crowns - or eleven melons - as a Czech would say. It will be interesting to see how the gorillas do in viewer ratings and whether they stand a chance of beating the people reality shows.

Photo: Kristýna Maková
Prague's famous Orloj or Astronomical Clock which tourists flock to see on the Old Town Square is as good as new. The clock and its famous statues were silent for the past two months but now they are back - fully restored - and are undergoing a trial period, while clock-makers and restorers monitor how well the clock-work functions and whether all its parts are well synchronized. There could be some slight problems at the start, according to the clockmaker whose family has been taking care of the clock since the 1860s. The mobile figures which pass through the main window frame on the hour, delighting tourists, could surprise them by making more frequent appearances. And the rooster could crow at unexpected times. Within a fortnight the Orloj should be working - well - like clockwork. Tourists who were lucky enough to be here when the statues were brought back from the workshop can go home boasting more than the average photos of the clock in action. One of the best moments was when the crowd saw the skeleton arriving by car, strapped into the front seat next to the driver. The Orloj, which was made at the beginning of the 15th century, must undergo regular maintenance but it may still be another ten years or so before the skeleton - symbolizing death - can take another trip by car.

If you are listening to us in Prague and soup is your favourite entrée, then there's one event you shouldn't miss. The Multicultural Centre Prague is organizing a soup night at Lucerna Pasaz on November 12th. The event is part of a broader framework aimed at promoting interest in other cultures. Along with a sample of soups from Bulgaria, Japan, Korea, Lebanon, Hungary, Poland, Greece or Benin you will get to enjoy their music and dancing. Not to mention the possibility of making new friends. So remember soup night is on November 12th and by then the weather is likely to be so cold that a plate of hot soup will be just what you need.