In this week's Mailbox: Easter and Bengali New Year greetings; corruption; fridge decoration; Radio Prague's old signature tunes. Listeners quoted: Christopher Lewis, UK; Salahuddin Dolar, Bangladesh; Frank Miata, Czech Republic; Leonard Herboczek, Paul Brouillette, Anne Fanelli, US.
And now, let's get down to business. Over the past week, we have received some responses to Radio Prague's recent reports on corruption in the Czech Republic.
Frank Miata, an American living in Prague, has sent us this interesting note.
"In America we eliminated many corrupt practices simply by calling them lobbying. This allows you actually to see finely dressed, well paid employees of major business interests trying to make or change the law. We call it 'freedom of speech.' How smart are we? Another way of looking at corruption is to see it as a way of subsidizing underpaid and undervalued public servants. By the way, there is no necessary correlation between bigger salaries and efficiency, so corruption, if it delivers the goods may be as efficient a system as any. You could also see corruption as an indication of a dynamic and thriving economy which solves bureaucratic bottlenecks the old fashion way. Before anybody goes on a crusade, ask yourself if you really want to hear your politicians and religious leaders telling you to be more honest."
"There may be corruption but people get what they need without regard for the depth of their pocket. I'd rather have that than denial of treatment for not being able to pay or losing lifetime savings to somebody who can take, sometimes by force, whatever he wants and the patient does not have the right to know the cost beforehand. As for bribes, it has always been customary to give small presents. Elsewhere it is called a tip. The Czechs still have one of the best health care systems anywhere."
And now onto a lighter topic. Paul Brouillette writes from Illinois:
"Thank you for the QSL card you recently sent me, along with the 'Time to listen to Radio Prague' magnet. The magnet is on my refrigerator. I wonder if the placing of magnetic items like this on the front of kitchen refrigerators is popular in the Czech Republic, too? Perhaps not so much as in America, where the refrigerators are usually larger than their European counterparts. Our large blank refrigerator fronts seem to beg for something to decorate them. Then there is the matter of the inside of the refrigerator, well populated with food and essentials such as Pilsner Urquell and Staropramen beer!"
I must say I had never given it a thought before but now when I think of it fridge magnets are now certainly more common than they used to be. What on the other hand used to be quite common here some twenty years ago were stickers. Stickers were hard to come by under communism so if you acquired one you proudly displayed it on your fridge. A special place among stickers belonged to banana stickers and I remember some families had whole collections of them on their fridge doors. That custom is now disappearing, I believe.
Anne Fanelli listens to Radio Prague in New York:
"I very much enjoy your programs in English and Czech (which I studied briefly at university), and have been listening off and on for almost 40 years. Although I prefer to listen on shortwave, when band conditions are poor I listen on the Internet instead. I have one question - what was the Radio Prague theme music before you began using Dvorak's "From the New World?" Although I appreciate your use of the 'Going Home' theme, I miss the older music and hope you will play it again sometimes. Thank you for bringing the Czech experience to all of us!"
The old Radio Prague signature tunes were composed by a Czech musician named David Noll, commissioned by Czech Radio. So let's get nostalgic and listen to a few bars of the old tune:
And finally we need to repeat the question for our monthly quiz:
This month we are asking you to list all Czech Nobel Prize winners. I won't tell you how many there are but we want the complete list. We seem to be getting two types of answers, one listing the Nobel Prize winners who were Czech by nationality and the other listing all people who were born in what is now the Czech Republic even though they were not ethnic Czechs. To be fair to everybody, both types qualify for the prizes because the way I asked the question may not have been completely clear.
Please send your answers to Radio Prague, 12099, Prague, Czech Republic or English@radio.cz by the end of April.