Prague, 20 Years Later

Steve Fisher31. ledna 2012 • 14:00

Hi! My name is Steve Fisher. I'm an American, and I recently celebrated my 20th anniversary as a resident of Prague. I arrived here in September 1991 as a volunteer English teacher and have been living here happily ever since. I'm married to a beautiful Czech woman, with whom I have two sons, ages 12 and 9.


I love living in this wonderful city and this beautiful country, and it has been fascinating to observe the changes which have taken place here over the last 20 years. People often ask me whether I think Prague has changed for the better or for the worse during that time, and I always tell them that the answer to that question is: "Yes."


So, for those of you who are old enough to remember when telephone numbers here had only six digits, and for those of you too young to know what a 'milk bar' was, here are ten examples of the huge differences between then and now.


1. 20 years ago, at the old Maj department store on Národní třída, you actually had to wait in line for a shopping basket before you were allowed to enter. Today, at the new Tesco My, that's no longer necessary, because all the things you can afford to buy there can be carried in one hand.


2. 20 years ago, this country had an evil and incompetent fixed line telephone monopoly that everybody hated, called "Telecom." Today, it's called "O2."


3. 20 years ago, there were only three television channels and nothing worth watching. Today, through the miracle of digital technology, there is now nothing worth watching on more than 30 TV channels.


4. 20 years ago, people used to be afraid that their neighbor was an StB informer. Today, the only thing anyone fears about their neighbors is that they'll change their home WiFi password.


5. 20 years ago, when very few people had cars, if someone wanted to get from Prague 8 to Prague 4, the trip took at least an hour on public transportation. Today, most people can make the same trip in the comfort of their own car in less than four hours.


6. 20 years ago, if you lived in Prague and wanted to get away from people, you had to leave town and go to your cottage in the country. Today, if you want to be completely alone, you can just go to the mall in Nové Butovice.


7. 20 years ago, every Czech village had a church, a post office and a pub. Today, every Czech village has a church, a post office, a pub and a pizzeria.


8. 20 years ago, people ate unhealthy food in a pub. Today, they eat unhealthy food from McDonald's, KFC and Subway.


9. 20 years ago, if you wanted to live with German people, you had to show your passport at the border. Today, you can just go to Old Town Square.


10. But, of course, the biggest change of all is the one that has happened since the Velvet Revolution 22 years ago. Then, the country was run by a corrupt, ruthless and self-interested dictatorship. Today, this nation can take pride in the fact that its corrupt, ruthless and self-interested government leaders are 100% democratically elected.


Steve Fisher

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