Sunday, January 22, 2006

A nose for trouble

Perhaps somebody wants to tell some of our European male brethren that if they are going to get on a plane for 9 hours, they may want to take a shower before departure. An antiperspirant may also come in handy. On top of every other indignity of tourist class, one has to endure a unique kind of Eastern European B.O which is pungent with notes of wrinkled salami, old and new sweat, digested garlic seeping through the epidermis, the sweet, cloying smell of years of the inhalation and exhalation of stale cigarette smoke and a top note of regurgitated beer, plus, the piece de resistance, stinky feet. I think it is criminal the way airlines cram 8 seats where there is really room for four and 40 rows where there is room for only 30. I hope people start having strokes on planes, so somebody does something about this horror. I'd like to put the chairman of Skyteam on coach on a transatlantic flight, preferably coming back, see how he likes it. It's inhumane.
As you may have surmised, I have a sensitive nose and can tell you that, compared to the homeless of Prague, our homegrown variety smells like eau de cologne. The bums of Prague have a smell of ancient rotting flesh cured in vinegar.
The beggars kneel on the hard cold stone and bow their bodies to the ground, hiding their faces, as if they were doing penance for being poor. They dress only with a light sweater and ratty canvas sneakers and they stretch their hands out on the pavement, which look like they're about to fall off from the cold. It looks very medieval, and at least in my case, fails to provoke more sympathy. I much prefer our jaunty, wiseass, confident panhandlers.

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