Ten months ago, I published a blog post entitled ‘How to be Czech in 10 easy steps‘, based on my experience at that time, of having lived as a cizinec / foreigner in the Czech Republic for nearly four and a half years. To my utter amazement, this post almost immediately went viral. It resulted in the blog getting 2040 visits on 20th February 2013, the day after it was published, and 1034 visits the following day. It took another three weeks before the daily visitor numbers returned to the more normal figure of around fifty.
I found the main reason for this sudden upsurge of visitor numbers in the social media buttons at the end of the post. The number of ‘likes’ and ‘shares’ on Facebook rapidly rose from zero, to nearly one thousand, together with numerous ‘tweets’ on Twitter, and ‘shares’ on Google+. The post also got highly rated for some time, on the social news and entertainment website, ‘reddit‘.
Since visitor numbers to my blog returned to more normal levels in mid-March, ‘How to be Czech in 10 easy steps’ has still remained as one of the most popular landing pages for new visitors to the blog. This has coincided with a gradual rise in Facebook ‘likes’ and ‘shares’, to around 1,100.
Then, in the past ten days, ‘How to be Czech in 10 easy steps’, has suddenly gone viral once again. From my blog having 47 visitors on 4th December, it suddenly shot up to 641 visitors the next day, and peaked at 1301 on 7th December. Yesterday, the visitor total was still nearly ten times the normal figure at 422. Once again it has been thanks to publicity, via social media, of this particular post. Even whilst drafting this new post, the number of Facebook ‘likes’ and ‘shares’ it has received, broke through the 2100 barrier!
The original post also attracted 77 comments. I think I am right in saying that this is the largest number of comments on any of the 252 posts here on my blog. In view of the recent upsurge, I suspect there would have been more comments, except for the policy I adopted more than two years ago, of not allowing comments on posts that are more than three months old, in an attempt to help reduce the number of spam comments I have to delete every day. However, real comments are most welcome on this new post 🙂
I really enjoyed reading and replying to all the comments, the original post received. In particular, I appreciated the many English-speaking Czechs, who could recognise what I was describing and were able to laugh and smile about themselves. There were several commenters who thanked me for being positive, rather than negative, about Czech people and their culture. This was always my intention. As I’ve written previously on this blog, I enjoy living here. The main thing I take issue with are the absurdities of Czech bureaucracy, which I know many Czech people get frustrated with too! I have no time for foreigners who constantly complain about living in the Czech Republic. There is a simple answer to their problem – go back to your home country!
Inevitably, there were several additional suggestions as to things I should also have included in my original post. With my first point, ‘Drink beer’, I should really have also added ‘or Kofola’. Kofola is a communist era product that was a substitute for Coca-Cola or Pepsi, which has enjoyed a nostalgic resurgence in recent years. Point 8, ‘Get a dog’, should really have been extended to, ‘or a cat’. And as part of point 7, going out into ‘the nature’, the important autumnal activity of ‘mushrooming’, should certainly have been highlighted.
Inevitably, ever since writing the original post in February, I have been on the look out to observe further examples that confirm what I wrote. I have to say that they are rarely hard to find 🙂 This particularly applies to point 3 of my original blog post, ‘Dress Czech’.
As I wrote there, ‘In the Czech Republic, you will frequently see a mother and her daughter out walking together, with the daughter pushing a buggy containing her new-born infant. You will then often notice that there is a competition between mother and the new grandma, as to which one has the shorter hemline’.
Two weeks ago, Sybille & I paid our regular Saturday morning visit to the Farmers Market at Vítezné námestí. Afterwards, we stopped off at Bar-Restaurace U topolu, for lunch. Soon after we sat down in the Bar-Restaurant, a three-generation family group came in. There was a toddler in a buggy being pushed by the child’s mother who would have been in her late twenties/early thirties. Behind them came the mother’s parents – grandparents of the toddler. Whilst the mother was in jeans and trainers, the relatively new grandmother was wearing knee-high boots, black tights, and a skirt that finished several centimetres above her knees!
A few days later, we were in another of our favourite haunts, Restaurace Pod Juliskou, when another family group came in and sat on the table next to us, this time without a young child. There was the daughter, again either late twenties or early thirties, together with her parents. Whilst the daughter was wearing what I call the Czech female winter look – spray-on jeans tucked into knee-high boots, together with serious heels, her mother was in a thigh-high woollen mini-dress, teamed with black patent leather knee-high boots!
A week last Tuesday, I attended a follow-up appointment with my dermatologist at Vojenská nemocnice, the Military Hospital, for treatment of another basal cell carcinoma, the commonest and least dangerous form of skin cancer, from which I periodically suffer. In the good Czech fashion of beginning work early in the day, my appointment was for 08.00. I duly arrived at 07.55 to check-in, to be greeted by a receptionist in a short red top that revealed part of her midriff and a serious amount of cleavage. It was a look that her boyfriend or husband would have enjoyed whilst sharing a romantic evening dinner, but not what I really wanted to see at 08.00 in the morning, before having my face attacked with liquid nitrogen!
Also in the past week, whilst leaving the metro and heading towards the escalator, a lady walked straight into me because she was trying read a whole series of notes, whilst walking along at the same time. Point 9 of my original post applies!
Therefore, in view of the continued high level of interest in my observations of how to be Czech, I am working on expanding the original post into a book. I started on the project in August when I took a week of my annual leave and tried to use the time to write. I am hoping to resume writing when I try and take a few days off as my post-Christmas break. In the meantime, there might have to be slightly fewer posts here on my blog 🙂
Update January 2014
In total breach of copyright, Prásk! the online tabloid newspaper belonging to the TV Nova Group, have published an abbreviated and very badly translated version of the original post – a complete act of plagiarism.