Thursday, April 15, 2010

K is for Kafka

In yet another of the strange twists and turns in which my life seems to delight, I found myself this past weekend in Prague, in the very same hotel (the Hilton) that was the scene of one of the strangest experiences of my life a year and a half ago. I try to steer a wide berth around this sort of four- or five-star business/luxury U.S. chain hotel, the kind that are somehow supposed to define having "made it". But in neither this case nor the last was I the one in the driver's seat; I was just along for the ride. Approaching the hotel, as it became increasingly clear it was the same as before, I can hardly describe my sensations, other than that I was seriously channelling Kafka (and what better place than the city of his birth?)!

Although the first night was pretty sleepless, fortunately there was no repeat of my temporary amnesia of before. I'm now safely back and ensconced in the bosom of Berlin, and the odd feelings have passed, of being at risk of somehow losing myself entirely. Prague was cold and rainy and packed full of tourists, giving me the sensation of a city best avoided (just as Barcelona does). Although I went up to the castle both of the days I was there (how could I not?), the magic of that beautiful October weekend in 2008 had somehow faded. I'm left pondering whether some things may be best de-mystified. But not Kafka, never Kafka, whose Metamorphosis I'm back to deciphering (in German, of course).

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