Thursday, June 8, 2017

You don't choose Brno – Brno chooses you, by Mariann Völgyes

You don't choose Brno – Brno chooses you

A collection of moments from my life spent in Brno, showing that transformation is inevitable – including good and bad elements, because that is how we are shaped.
My favorite moments – without these I would not be who I am today.

Brno is a magical city.
First, you might find it a bit distant and strange – but with enough consciousness, braveness and openness finally you will have to admit: there definitely must be something in there.
When you enter the city, probably your first thought is that you want to leave immediately. Hlávní nádrazí, whatever that means, brrr! (Main station.)
But...! The magic has already happened: you are amazed by the fast, cute red trams, your ears are filled unwanted with the neither understandable nor learnable language, and, last but not least: you see the first advertisement of pivo (beer)!
Moving to a different country can teach you a lot: how to be humble, patient, curious; how to take care of yourself, how to discover yourself in the mirror of another nation (you learn to be a prouder nationalist than before!).

Here, let a collection of stories guide you through my time in this city. Exhale your expectations and inhale the wisdom you may find between the lines.

First impressions

I felt VERY lucky – got a job in a foreign country with passing only one round of interviews!
The first half year was quite bad though. I missed my usual environment, my friends, dreamed both in English and Czech in the nights, especially around the busier periods at work.
Nothing, I could link to, was within my usual comfort zone: I could not buy a proper newspaper, did not know how I find any sports team I could join, and I felt pretty bad having a drink with people with whom I could not find any deeper topics to talk about. Work was interesting, but also heavy, for the first couple of months, alone, always waiting for help from someone.
How did I cope with all that? Some could say it's easy: I would say it takes conscious work.
I found that no matter what, I have to get back and gain energy from the activities I enjoy anyway, and build them into my new life. I discovered Brno on foot: first, I got a map which showed only the downtown, so: I walked many times after work in the downtown! I was a bit afraid I would get lost, so I usually stopped at the edge of the map.
I found the smallest park ever near to my place and exercised there for a couple of months. Great achievement: I could hold on to my plans! Me, who started doing sport regularly only over a year ago!
Joined also to one-day trips: Prague, Kutna Hora, Lednice, Mikulov, Valtice, Veveri castle…! There are plenty of beautiful places that cheer you up in case.
People, essence of life: although I consider myself quite an introvert, I made up my mind and went to pubs regularly to drink the fabulous product of Czechia: BEER. Well, first Staro Brno, then developed to be more picky. It was worth it: met my since-then-still best friend without whom I could not imagine my time spent in Brno. I met my first boyfriend in Brno, too. Through him, I could help another friend finding a job at our company… - see, nothing is accidental!

As I read, the first impression can be either incredibly good or bad… True story. Mine was, honestly, rather the latter: it took me time to notice that how I feel myself inside, so will I perceive the physical world around me. Great lesson.

Just don't fit in...

“Ahojte, co děláš?”
“Jak se máš?”
“OH! Dobře, děkuji!” I am happy to be able to squeeze a healthy sentence through my mouth in Czech. I don’t know whose idea was to start learning this awful language at work… (Sure, mine.)
“Jak se jmenujete?”, the teacher asks.
“Ja jsem X”, I reply, with hope in my eyes. I remember…!

I made a huge mistake when moving to this foreign country, thinking that my fine English and German will be enough, and will swim in the state of being a foreigner forever.
After a while, the initiative, to learn the language slowly became an unpleasant must-do task on a weekly basis. I lost my motivation when I discovered that basically we, foreigners can get almost every service we need in English – from dentist to legal advice, from baby-sitting to rapid date events.
After a while, I hated Brno. I hated how it is so small, that I meet all the time people I do not want to see, that I travel a bit and already outside of the city, that I happen to know all corners, all streets, all shops…
Ah and these…these! These Czech girls are SO MUCH… - sexier? Nicer…? Yeah, look, they have such a long, thick hair. Yes, sure, all are blond, but still… I hate them taking away all the guys I wanted to date… I hate their pronunciation, their clothes, their…!
Plus, everybody goes to drink ALL THE TIME!!! Is not there any other form of leisure activities, really?! Aren't they bored of all the alcohol, aren't they sick?!

...and so on. I raved with fury. For months. My eyes were covered with self-pity and depression. I was blind for all the good surrounded me. Coming out of it? One solution it was: passion.

Those yellow routes I met

She told me he must be a Hungarian! He pronounced something that sounded like “Budapest”! I went closer to the group in order to be able to hear more of the good-looking guy talking.
This is how my relationship with climbing began. With a simple “Hello, you are Hungarian, too, right?” The guy was indeed coming from Budapest, and discovered climbing a bit before me, in Brno.
For the first time I went, it was in the climbing centre Rajče, and – I enjoyed it a lot. Not because I spent the afternoon with great guys (oh no, it is never that…!), but because it was a challenge. It seems to be really easy from the floor: they climb like monkeys, they are fast, strong and unbelievably weightless! I never wanted to be a champion, although my very first compliment was: “you managed to climb with us the whole afternoon, girls usually give up after a couple of routes!” I was amazed, my little self was covered in sunshine. Hell yeah, it is fun, hard and there is a friendly group of people to go with – I am gonna be a climber in Brno!

For years, I went two times per week, with several people who had huge impact on my life. They have become lovers, close friends, not-so-close friends. I experienced openness within our group and at places we went to. It was easy to get new friends. I got to know a special guy who taught me a lot about love. I befriended two exceptional Christian girls with whom I could – till today – travel and talk with real, deep trust. I saw how breaking a heart can happen with unconscious words… And I was invited to a climbing friend's wedding – among others to get to meet my next boyfriend who led me to moving back home (see: no accidents!).

You could ask why it is that fun, to get your hands dirty with zia (magnesia), to trouble your brain with thinking about the strategy of getting up high, to make your body tired in a huge, coldish hall with hanging ropes. It is: challenge.
I also did learn that whatever you imagine, you can do. I learned to be brave. To be more spontaneous; to trust in my own body, in my abilities and in my partners' strength and knowledge when belaying. To… trust the situation.

Toast to time

“Time is a strange thing, if it exists. Also, the world is a mirror, so what you see outside, exists inside. Let me introduce myself now through describing three guys. Please consider that I will talk about myself, even if it does not seem so.
Last year in July I went home for a vacation. I was looking forward to it, because I was going to meet three guys - three men who are important in my life. They are: past, present and future.

As a first, here is my future.
There was this guy whom I met: blond with blue eyes, working at some secret agency as a detective. He offered a walk in the outskirts of Budapest, where I have never been before but always wanted to. I accepted the invitation. We were walking, talking, having fun, having lunch. He has a strong personality, and during the whole morning I felt something really special and unexplainable. I was excited and curious. Somehow I trusted him – why would you go to the outskirts with someone who is not allowed to speak about his job, does martial arts, ergo much stronger than you…? I trusted him, and I still trust – although he seemed to be quite mysterious.

A couple of hours later, I had to return to the present… to meet a really good friend of mine, with whom I can basically talk about anything. Just as a coincidence, he also has blond hair and big, blue eyes, and a wonderful voice. He is a musician, plays the violin - a real dreamer.
Every time it is a bit bittersweet to meet him. He used to be my boyfriend for a short time. Since then as if I had lived in a different present – that short time was one of the strongest experiences in my life so far. I experienced how it is to be a woman. A real one, a loved one.
He loves his job, lives his passions, loves life and people. Always kind and funny. Sometimes unbearable. He is afraid of his own power, but, if loved, can do anything.
As usual, he had to hurry, so I headed to visit my past.

Past – the time that never fades away. It has its marking on you: the last man I met on that day was my grandfather.
He has been sick for a long time, but he unbelievably wanted to live. He loved life in general. Survived the second world war, seduced my grandmother, with whom he lived together for 60 years.
He did not recognize who I was. My parents said that he was very weak – but: he held my hands so strongly, that even I could not do that now, although I am young and physically in good shape. He said that I looked so strange - I felt as if I were an angel, with lights around, telling him that everything is fine.
I said see you soon… knowing that this was the last time we met in this life. A month later he died. I was happy beside the sadness, because I knew that for him something better would come.

Everything has a solution: either passing away – or starting up.
So, remember: time is a tricky thing.
Everything happens at once.
Everything and everybody is in you – this is me. They are me.”

With this ice breaker speech I guaranteed the first place on that small, first speech contest in the Brno Business Toastmasters meeting. I was scared a bit, but more excited: finally I can write, create, make an impact with my thoughts and words.


It’s a cold Thursday night. I close the window – soon I will have to leave. My dress is fine and clean. It will be snowing maybe; I grab another pullover. I hate freezing.
I am heading to the Theater to watch the Japanese drummers' show. The bus comes in time, I sit down without looking around. Nobody I know and meet regularly lives in this part of the town, so I don't bother looking.
In almost twenty minutes I am there – at the prettiest theater in town! Close to the main station, its classicist building tells stories of decades and invites us to dress up elegant and spend a memorable night in there.
Alone I go, noone else was interested in the show from among my friends. I cannot wait – finally! We can go in, take our seats. Mine is somewhere behind, almost in the last row. I am wondering how much I will see from there, and whether I will need to see at all. My doubt was pointless: the aim was to feel.
Lights down, curtains up: there they are, Japanese girls and boys, young and strong…! They were cheekily young! And almost so muscular that you would call that inappropriate. They run ten kilometers a day, says the man who introduced them. “Wow”, I think, “that is something!”
I am already lost after the first beat of the drums. My heart stopped for a moment and re-started in the same second with some different vibration… It was no longer mine; my body slipped into the rhythm, and my soul got trapped. I can not move, yet: I want to dance like a fool and merge with… the sound. Be… something… else. I offer my body to drink the sounds of the drums, the magical, ancient sounds that engulf the frail human creatures, making them either wise or forever mad.
I come out of the place as if I was under a spell. I decide to walk down, back to the main station to catch my bus instead of taking the tram for these couple of stops. I walk slowly. Breathe in, breathe out. Wonder breaks in… the snow starts to fall… Tiny, glistening pieces of frozen water falling from the sky to the ground – to the trees, cars, pavement. I stop, and breathe. Have never been happier lately…
Brno is shining in the cold, winter night.

You don't choose Brno – Brno chooses you. We often made a joke with this sentence with my foreigner friends: those who wanted to leave soon, somehow stayed; and those who found the city nice, in a short period of time found themselves searching for new challenges, well, somewhere else.
After a while I strongly believed that nobody gets accidentally to this strange place. It has a soul that attracts just the right human souls. To make them grow, to make them help each other grow.

It's been almost seven years that I first heard, and then headed to the city of Brno.
It was a sudden thought to go there - and has become a life changing experience.
All these years showed me how to be the person I imagined: who is more and more self-conscious, who loves to travel and to whom the world seems to be a giant friend that is simply waiting to be discovered.
Děkuji moc.

No comments:

Post a Comment