MASERU, Lesotho – Last week was one filled with nostalgia and melancholy.
Behind the banner of The Slovak Brotherhood: "For God and Nation!" (Photo: mjj)
BRATISLAVA – On the first sunny Saturday of spring, we stroll across downtown Bratislava to a friend’s afternoon party.
BRATISLAVA – Sometimes, even a Slovak pissoir inspires me.
The old, no-frills Tesco building downtown was recently renovated into a hip shopping mall, with bright lights, sleek displays and basement supermarket with a hu-u-u-uge liquor section. (Not that I'm implying anything about my Slovak neighbors.)
BRATISLAVA – I didn’t want to blog today. I need to write more of the Double-Secret Probationary Project I started this month. Oops, I’ve already said too much.
But then I witness a great act of stranger-to-stranger kindness, the sort of thing that is so rare in post-Communist, every-man-for-himself Central Europe, I notice when it happens.
BRATISLAVA – I’ve been meaning to write. Really, I have.
Maybe my sluggishness is because it’s so tough to re-acclimate to colder, wetter weather.
BRATISLAVA – That’s what the Slovak commentator screamed from the TV.
How about ‘dem Slovaks?! Our scrappy Central European friends today sent the reigning champion – mighty Italy – tumbling out of the World Cup, 3-2. Even I cheered in the pub today.
“After you, France … Want to share a taxi to the airport?”
[Read Part 1 here] Slovaks are understandably sensitive to jabs from across the river: for centuries they lived under the Hungarian csizma, or boot. Most castles here are lined with portraits of Hungarian nobility, while churches are engraved with Hungarian bishops and priests. Aside from its short stint as a Nazi quisling, Slovakia earned its first real independence in 1993, when it peacefully split with the Czech Republic.
BRATISLAVA – There’s nothing that nationalists in Central Europe relish more than to commemorate an historic injustice, harping on their victimization. If it falls during an election campaign, even better.
The 90-year-old Treaty of Trianon – which dismembered the old Kingdom of Hungary, carving up its land and its people – has resurfaced in an ugly spat between Slovakia and Hungary, influencing elections in both. In the middle of this scrum is the half-million-strong Hungarian minority in Slovakia.