Mailbox

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Today in Mailbox: Czech-Egyptian relations, the history of the postal service, the Czech national tree. Listeners quoted: Mohamed Abd Elraheim, Rassem ben Brahim, Kanchan Chatterjee.

Hello and welcome to Mailbox, Radio Prague’s weekly programme for your views, questions and comments.

Our listener Mohamed Abd Elraheim from Egypt sent us an e-mail mentioning the longstanding bilateral relations between his country and the Czech Republic or the former Czechoslovakia:

“Cultural and scientific cooperation has existed through the decades, for example hundreds of Egyptian students enrol in scientific postgraduate programmes at Czech universities. Also a growing Czech passion for the ancient Egyptian civilization has led to the emergence of generations of Czech Egyptologists. A Czech mission has operated in Egypt for more than forty years exploring the Abu Sir side of the desert near Giza, as well as the oasis of Bahariya, and has made many important archaeological discoveries. Not only the passion of Czech Egyptologists for Egypt, but of the Czech people in general is reflected in the increasing number of Czech tourists coming to Egypt.“

In another e-mail from North Africa, Rassem ben Brahim from Tunisia asks:

“When did the first post office open in your country?”

The history of the postal service in this country goes back to the 16th century when a postal line was established to connect Prague with the Habsburg capital Vienna. A growing network of places to change horses first served only the purposes of the government. In 1743 under Empress Maria Theresa postal services became completely state-owned and were reorganized. Postal services were revolutionized by the emergence of railway and telegraph in mid-19th century. The first stamps were issued in 1850.

Kanchan Chatterjee from India would like to know:

“What are the names of your country’s national bird and flower?”

As far as I’m aware there is no bird that could be described as a Czech national bird. As far as plants are concerned, the linden tree is considered to be the Czech national tree, with its heart-shaped leaves symbolizing love and peace.

The fragrance of linden trees in bloom is one of my favourites but that’s still a couple of months away – at around the time of the deadline for your entries in Radio Prague’s annual competition which is now in its tenth year.

Linden tree
This year’s competition question is:

Which Czech writer or literary work do you like best and why?

The person who sends the best answer, which will be chosen by a specially appointed jury, will win a weeklong stay for two in Prague. There will also be prizes and souvenir items for runners-up.

The best answers will be featured in our programme and published on our website www.radio.cz on the last weekend of June.

Your entries should reach us no later than June 15, 2010 at the following address:

Radio Prague

Vinohradská 12 12099 Prague 2

Czech Republic

or via email at: cr@radio.cz

The main prize is being sponsored by PARKHOTEL Praha. Parkhotel Praha offers visitors a blend of comfort and history, quality and modern design, within easy reach of the city centre.

And you can, of course, also take part in our little monthly quiz.

We are looking for the name of the world-renowned tenor, born in 1873 in the North Moravian town of Šumperk, who sang on some of the world’s most famous stages, including the Royal Opera House in London, the Vienna State Opera or New York’s Metropolitan Opera.

Please send us your answers by the end of April to english@radio.cz or Radio Prague, 12099 Prague. There is a Radio Prague goodie bag for the lucky winner. Please keep those e-mails coming and until next week, happy listening.