Mailbox

'Ruka'
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This week in Mailbox: Masaryk Avenue in Mexico City; Czech puppeteer Jiri Trnka; Prague public transport fare hikes; Gipsy.cz on SoundCzech. Listeners quoted: Fernando Portugal, James Olson, David Snelgrove, John Novotney, JC Lockwood.

It’s time again for Mailbox, the programme, you, the listeners, help write every week.

It’s not all that often that we get letters from Spanish speaking countries. Fernando Portugal writes from Mexico.

“You may be interested in the following information: the most luxurious and expensive Avenue in Mexico City is called Presidente Masaryk, in order to laureate the memory of the 1918-1935 Czechoslovak President. The street’s name is part of the daily urban vocabulary for the middle and high classes in Mexico, but only a few of them know who President Masaryk was. The street was baptized as Masaryk Avenue during the 30’s. Masaryk was admired by the former Mexican President Cardenas (1934-1940), who delivered orders to call the referred street Masaryk Avenue at the time of the creation of the Polancos neighborhood. Today, Polancos and Masaryk Avenue represent the urban core for the Mexican Jewish community.”

That’s an interesting piece of information. Is there a Masaryk Street in your city? Or any other place named after a Czech or with a Czech connection? Please, do let us know and we will share the information here on Mailbox.

James Olson listens to Radio Prague in Georgia:

“I just wanted to drop you a note to tell you how much I appreciate your shortwave broadcasts. I am a 42 year old banker, and I have been a longtime listener to your programs. Perhaps it is just the busy nature of my schedule, but I don't take the time to write to your station very much these days. But that doesn't mean I'm not tuning into your broadcasts. I believe there are many folks like me that listen often, but don't write that much. As a father of 3, I am very busy after work with my family. And shortwave is a pleasant medium for me to use while I am at home or in my car. Please encourage the continued broadcasts to North America as we are listening and enjoying your programs. I look forward to perhaps visiting your country and your station some day.”

It’s wonderful to hear from you, James. As I repeat often in Mailbox, we really appreciate if you find the time to drop us a line if only to say you are out there.

'Ruka'
David Snelgrove from the United States responds to a Czechs in History programme about the Czech puppeteer Jiri Trnka.

“The only one of Jiri Trnka's films I saw was ‘Ruka’. I know it was in the 1970s when I saw it but I considered it a most powerful depiction of the use or abuse of power. As a teacher of social studies in the US, I used the film every year to generate discussion. I had not thought of Trnka or his art for a long time and never knew that he was such a well-rounded artist. Thank you for the article.”

And thank you for writing in to Radio Prague. John Novotney has lived in Prague for more than ten years.

“With reference to your story in Tuesday’s news bulletin on public transport fare hikes, are honest patrons of the system being forced to pay for those apparently considerable number of passengers who do not pay their fare? If that is the case, wouldn't it be more democratic (not to mention honest) to hire more spot-checkers on the various transport vehicles? I'm always happy to show my annual pass the few times I'm asked. An increase to 26 crowns strongly smells of gross unfairness in the transport system and in City Hall. Has there been any mention of this in the ‘justification’ for the hikes?”

There are multiple reasons for the price increase, according to both the city hall and the Prague transport authority. Seventy percent of the cost of each fare is subsidised from the city’s budget and the city hall says is no longer sustainable. Energy prices and VAT have been rising lately but the fares have stayed the same since 2005. In setting the prices, the city hall and the Prague transport authority also have to juggle two facts: the running costs which are comparable to other European cities, and the purchasing power of Czechs which is often lower. The transport authority is also planning some austerity measures, including laying off almost 700 people by the end of the year.

And finally, JC Lockwood from the United States responds to Radio Prague’s Czech language programme SoundCzech.

“I just had the pleasure of seeing my two favorite bands – Plastic People of the Universe and Uz jsme doma - play five shows in venues from Washington to Boston and, as I learned in your excellent SoundCzech program, ‘to byla sakra mela:’ Lots of fun, but kind of a slaughter. I guess I'm getting too old to chase bands around the country. (Sigh.) But in the report you did not mention the name of the song from which the phrase came or the album it's on. It is, of course, Palikeras Tumenge, from the Gipsy.cz's Romano Hip Hop album, which I found - and bought. I have no idea what the title of the album means, but that's a project for another day.”

The title of the album means “Roma Hip Hop” and the title of the song means “thank you” in the Romani language. And let me say thank you for all your letters and e-mails this week.


All that remains now is to repeat for one last time the competition question for November.

This time we are looking for the name of a Moravian-born American economist and political scientist. Some of his most important contributions to global economic thinking include his theories of business cycles and development, entrepreneurship, his theory of growth, and creative destruction.

You have until Friday to send us your answers to the usual address: english@radio.cz or Radio Prague, 12099, Prague, Czech Republic. Next Sunday, we will quote from your correct answers and announce the names of four listeners who will be getting parcels from Radio Prague. Till then, bye-bye and take care.