11.12.2017 16:47


Prague by the eyes of the homeless: Be careful on every step

Autor: Andrea Šebelová | Kurz: English section | Kategorie: Features and other

It’s Friday evening on 17th November. The center of Prague is full of people who are celebrating the public holiday. The clock hands are showing exactly 8.30 p.m. I am standing in front of the building of Prague main railway station. With me, there is a group of other twenty people and all of us we are waiting for the unusual guide. We all suspect that this night will be extraordinary. We are looking forward to a night tour with a former prostitute and homeless Karim.

Karim is here. You cannot ignore him. Through the light of lamps, his gold chains around his neck and all thirty rings on both of his hands are shining far into the distance. He is wearing a long black sweater, glittering purple shoes and holding a little blue paper bag in his hand. „Hello, kittens!“ says us. „This night will be really long, so I hope you are wearing warm clothes,“ Karim says, showing his care for us.

Former homeless Karim is one of the atypical guides, who challenge the stereotypes associated with homelessness by enabling people to experience the world from a homeless perspective. During the tour, the guides from Pragulic project try to approach the town from the other, opposite side, which the ordinary tourists cannot see.

We are walking through Wenceslas Square. Crowds of people are walking around us. They are looking at Karim curiously, but he does not mind. We stop near to the public toilet.

„So welcome to the heart of Prague!“ our guide says and continues: „You have to be very careful in this square. There are many thiefs and prostitutes who can steal you anything valuable. This bag,“ – says and points to my school backpack – „can be a gold mine for the thieves. They are able to unpick that and get everything that they need.“ This information made me a little terrified.. I am beginning to look around more and explore every possible attacker.

Our group is carrying on through city streets. I am cold and I am getting hurt in my throat. But Karim’s stories are so interesting that I do not even think of leaving the tour earlier. He is talking about his sexual experience with clients, about legendary pimps and other sexual practices, which his colleagues or he had to do. „The pimps arranged the order for us and then we had to go with the client. We never knew what exactly to expect. Ex-president Vaclav Klaus, for example, had very crazy wishes. He has a nickname Kikina,“ he says. I am shocked! Then he is describing sexual practices in a colourful way. It sounds so weird and people are starting to become green in their faces.

A young lady next to me is listening carefuly. Then she says into the air: “Oh my God, that cannot be true! It is… it is not possible.” She is shaking her head. A man of forty standing by her is turning back and is wiping his face with his hands. “I have never heard any crazy thing like that,” whispering quietly.

People are getting more and more upset and confused. From the city center, our tour continues to less popular parts of Prague. We are on Charlie’s Square. „This square is the most dangerous square in Prague, more than Wenceslas Square. There is a park where are really aggressive drug users. They are able to attack you with dirty injections and hurt you. So be careful if you will walk through the park,“ Karim gives an advice. Because I have working with drug addicted people, I know their character a little bit. Sometimes they are angry or rude, but I had not any problems with them yet. Yeah, it is possible they could be agressive, but is that true? I doubt it. I am asking Karim:

„Is that true? Has it happened to someone?“

„Sure, many times. I also did it, when I was drug addicted.“

„OK…“

I am not asking anymore.

Our tour is almost up. It is 1.30 a.m. and I am barely crawling.  But Karim is looking fresh.  He is enumerating all the films which were filmed in Prague. It is also interesting but less than the information about drugs, mafias or prostitutes. At the end of the tour, Karim is inviting us to the pub. The group members refuse this - they are too tired to drink. But they willingly give him some extra money. At the end of the program Karim has almost three thousand crowns in his hand. I am asking him for a photo. „No problem,“ he says immediately. As same fresh and nice as in the beginning of the tour. Chance would Prague be nice as well. 

Klíčová slova: Karim, Pragulic, Prague, homeless, drugs, prostitues

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