The freshly painted white tubes come sleeking into C line metros and hush to a stop; the driver then opens the opposite side doors just to make sure they work.

And they always do.

After two years, this has become a thoroughly ridiculous exercise. With increasing frequency operational trains are pulling in full of people; but whenever possible I let them pass and wait for one of the graffitied Russian-made metal clankers with parallel seating I know and love. These next generation trains, they’re bad news.

The retard seat on the trams – the lone chair that faces the rest of the passengers – is the central organizing principle of the new metro cars. This arrangement forces you to touch knees with your opposite commuter and stare at him like a bland nemesis. Or a chess partner. Or the master of a tea ceremony.

And the red cloth single stiff-backed seats stink too – no more sliding onto the smooth surface of an empty stretch of hard bench. Ditto the orange plastic hand rests: they just don’t satisfy a human grip like cold steel monkey bars. Yes, there is something distinctly, unpleasantly German about the new subway trains. I hate them so.

They are still tearing up my apartment building. I have no idea why. There are exposed and dangling wires and tubes along ripped out brick walls from the lobby up to the fifth floor. Whatever they’re doing, it looks very comprehensive and is probably the first time they’ve done it since Franz Joseph.

Every morning I awake to a battering of drills and hammers. Outside my front door, metal shavings and wood dust coats everything, including the stairwell light switch that hangs limply out of the wall like C3-PO’s gouged eyepiece. The same week that they started the deconstruction, a fun but crazy old friend of mine from the States came to visit. Soon the inside of the apartment started to rival the outside for sheer ugly chaos.

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There were scattered newspapers, bloody towels, empty bottles, and sheetless mattresses on the floor. And darkness from broken light bulbs. The grossness of the pad would not have occurred to me were it not for the sudden and unexpected arrival of a friend from the Netherlands and her yuppie boyfriend, who two months ago I had absentmindedly told could stay with me Easter weekend. I had no way out when she called me from the street below with her high-end travel gear expecting a beautiful Prague apartment.

And I will never forget the look on their squeaky clean EU faces as I led them up the bombed out stairs and into what looked a shadowy, squatted two room crack den. I lamely apologized for the mess, but by late that night they were long gone, having left a note curtly thanking me for my hospitality and saying they were off to “visit friends in Slovakia.”

Next to the note sat a tiny, airplane-sized bottle of Bokma liqueur. Which I’m pretty sure is a Dutch way of saying “f*ck you.”

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