Where I Grew Up

Where I grew up is not pretty. It is not beautiful, but it has its own unique charm. A big coal mining city that used to be called Black Ostrava and the Steel Heart of the Republic. Now it is sometimes called a ghost town. The coal mines were closed many years ago. A few thriving department stores and shops were abandoned and left to their own fate. A lot of people left to find a better life. In the evenings, when the shops close the centre becomes a ghostly place.

However there is still beauty to be found. It truly is in the eye of the beholder. I find the industrial landscape fascinating and derelict buildings full of character and haunting history. I would love to walk into the gypsy quarters as I was always intrigued by the gypsies and their way of life. However that is one area I still don’t dare to venture into on my own. The concrete housing estates have a certain attraction too. In small doses.

So here is a small collection of my observations from the place I grew up in. It might be ordinary, it might be unattractive or even ugly, but it used to be my home, a place of my childhood memories. I will always find something worth capturing there as a keepsake, as a little reminder of where I come from.

There will always be an inner bond that will take me back there now and again. It will always have a place in my heart.

Where Coal Once Was King

I found a beautiful poem about my home town written by one of the Czech poets of the 20th century. Vilém Závada artfully depicted the city’s rough beauty and its tough character. Unfortunately I haven’t dared to translate it into English yet. One day I will try. In the meantime it is here for those who understand my native language.

Ostrava

Sirá země kamenitá
– popelavá skořápka –
v kaňonu hald skryta.
Černý deštník nad ní lká.

Pod vrstvičkou černé hlíny
je jak v mraveništi slují.
Z uhlí jedovaté plyny
třaskavě tam vybuchují.
Pod nebesy z plynné škváry
krabatina ztvrdlé lávy
prostírá se do dálavy
za soptění sirné páry.

Hle, má drahá rodná země –
spáleniště opuštěné.
Jenom jeden havíř – hlad –
neustává dolovat.

Vilém Závada

Echoes of the Past

Times of Future Past

The Crescent

On the positive side, things are gradually getting better. The closed coal mines are being turned into museums and arts and entertainment centres, buildings are being repaired, new department stores built and new cafes open. There is still hope that I will witness the city thriving again.

The End of the Day

TO BE CONTINUED