Prague, the Golden City, is filled with colors—pink, yellow, turquoise, green, amber and gold. I am here to facilitate a strategy summit. It’s a good idea to assimilate the character and nature of the place prior to engaging. Understanding the history and character of a place helps me to be more effective in my communication. One of the best ways to learn about the character and energy of a city, a nation, a region is to observe both its young and old inhabitants. The elderly reveal the feelings about the past of the city they live in. The young people broadcast their sentiments about the future. I look at how each person walks, how they carry their sense of self, the dominant expression on their face, and whether there is hope or despair in their eyes. Are they tidy or loose? Are they engaged or disengaged? and much, much more.
In my first three hours in Prague – in the airport, the taxi, and the hotel, I interacted with seven people in their 20s. They were all bright, energetic, tidy, looked me straight in the eyes with confidence and energy. It told me more about Prague and its current conditions than reading five newspapers about what’s going on here. There is something vibrant and hopeful about this place and its future.
A few days later, thousands gathered in the old square to watch their soccer team beat the Swiss team on large outdoor TV screens. Prague is not dilapidated and suffers no vapidity. It is a vibrant city but is not as prurient as New York or London. It has a unique power and pride. Layers of old and young histories, one on top of the other conflate and build a great compound of power. Its beauty has been preserved and now the city is emerging to embrace a bright future for its people. Prague.
Here also, is the famous Jewish cemetery where twenty generations back, my great, great, great, great grandfather, the renowned Rabbi Maharal is buried.
© Aviv Shahar