I volunteered.

I do not believe people do good for nothing. For example, religious people do good for they believe it will unlock the heaven’s doors for them. You get up and let elderly sit at the public transport because you are afraid you will be judged if you won’t. Or you believe in karma. Whatever reason we have, it is good.. to do good.

So I volunteered at Forum 2000, a conference about peace and democracy. My reasons? It will look good on my CV and I am going to experience something new. Oh boy, I did. And actually, those things I could have never learned if I was only an ordinary visitor.

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Let me specify: the conference was attended by around a hundred foreign speakers, fighters for human rights and what not. Each of the speaker had a personal assistant and I was one of them.

As an assistant I got to eat the cakes at the lounge and talk to a bunch of interesting people. The people who do good for years, not just a week like I was.

What volunteering at Forum 2000 gave me? 

1) People are often afraid of big names, easily impressed. They shit their pants when Google is involved. If they see a product with an apple shaped logo. The same feeling I was getting whenever I saw Forum2000 logo. It was the feeling of respect for an organization with noble goals. And don’t get me wrong, it is a respect deserving one. Still.. there are so many mistakes that need to be perfected. The things you can spot in every institution.

a) Finance being used inefficiently, so inefficiently that half of the delegates didn’t get any food for 10 hours .. yet they were accommodated in a 5 star hotel in the poshest street in the Czech republic, Pařížská street.

b) Wrong people at the most important places. I understand they are your friends. That they need a job. And they might mean much more to you than the organization itself… but then you need to be replaced too. I just find it ridiculous to give someone the responsibility of logistics when the person is .. let’s say mildly confused.

There you see. Big brands don’t mean no fuck-ups.

2) If you FAKE it, you can MAKE it. So there was this lounge with free cakes I’ve mentioned above. Only delegates and their assistants could enter. However, if you’d look serious enough and wore a nice suit, you could get in as well. Life…

3) Compassion. And this is the most important point I want to make today. I got to know my delegate. He’s what’s bothering me. See, I’ve never been interested in Cuba. Yes, they are poor. So what. Half of the world is. I’ve realized this. People don’t get interested in vague stories. You must punch them in the face. With real stories, of real people. That is somehow the way “Humans of….” work. If I say “People in Cuba are suppressed”, it won’t move your heart. You’ve heard it so many times, seen it so many times. But then you see a Cuban man, being so humble and making sure to never bother you even though your job is to help him. And what really impressed me was that even though he comes from such poor background and was rather short on money, he didn’t take the opportunity to eat until he gets sick at the free cakes lounge. I would.

I feel so sorry for people that can not dream as big as I do. That the only thing they want is to survive whereas survival shouldn’t be something you desire.. It should be something guaranteed. I wish there was justice in this world so that I don’t have to care.

Bari!

I would have never thought I’ll visit Bari one day. In fact, I’ve never heard of Bari before around four months ago. While I was strolling the Wenceslaw sq. and wearing my sky high Jeffrey Campbells, an American guy stopped me. His surname was Browne and I remember it so well because it’s a bit like Brownie. So he was telling me that he works in a traveling company and as we were enthusiastically talking about traveling, he mentioned this little almost forgotten place, Bari.

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It reminds me Vietnam in so many ways. Narrow and tall houses painted in sunny colors, honking cars, palm trees… even the people are friendly and short just like in Vietnam, lol! My mom with 156 cm is considered average height here.

The main reason why Browne convinced me to come is very simple. F O O D. So what I was expecting were Orata fish – the ones with teeth, shrimps, crabs, mussels..

Fish market by the sea.. and yes we got ripped off!

but there is so much more!

incredibly plump olives / fresh and sweet tomatoes
Of course the sicilian cannolis! Bari is kinda one of the mafioso district.. but that can be easily forgotten while looking at those..
Of course the sicilian cannolis! Bari is kinda one of the mafioso district.. but that can be easily forgotten while looking at those..

Food from the south is just freaking good. Not only the specialities like burrata cheeseorecchiette pasta or gelato. Also very common things like butter, lemons, milk, bread and cauliflower taste better here. I don’t know why. Might be the sun, relatively humid air or just the charm of the Italians? :p

One of the things I had to get used to was the Oratio, in other words (language, haha), Opening hours. Most of the really Italian shops were opening from 9.30 – 12.30 and then again from 16.30 – 20.30. Sometimes it could vary by half an hour, depending on the owner. On the other hand, the street where big brands like H&M or Zara are located, via Sparano, is opened most of the times, from 9:30 until 20:30. Still it was very odd to me and I wish they were all opened 24/7 because Italian fashion, shoes especially, is to die for.

Overall, I immensely enjoyed Bari. Now that I am back in Prague, I miss the old Italians who greeted me “Ciao bella!” in the streets, the smell of sea and the laid-back atmosphere in general. It’s not the holiday I’d go to with my boyfriend or my girlfriends or not at least now. However, for families or old couples who just want to lie on the beach and eat some octopus with white wine.. that’s heaven.