Saturday, December 13, 2008

Bear Hole

I've been feeling really guilty that I haven't been blogging so much lately, so I searched my bear archive this evening and came across this "vintage" photo taken of me during my first week in Bratislava. I had been hoping to post about the city's Christmas market which began about a week and a half ago but I haven't visited it yet because it's been either too cold or too rainy. And if you think you can hear the whiny voice of my (female) bipedal attendant in that last sentence, well, you'd be right.

In any case, that's me and Čumil (the Watcher) who, well, watches the city go by from the mouth of a manhole. He was created about eleven years ago along with the Napoleonic Soldier and Schöne Náci as a means of making Bratislava's Old Town - which was in the middle of a huge restoration project - more interesting and quirky. As the most photographed piece of art in the city (my female bipedal attendant would say that the list is quite small but I try to ignore her) on a busy pedestrian thoroughfare, he is usually swamped by hoards of camera-wielding tourists. The Japanese seem particularly fond of him. He's probably had his photo taken as many times as me. (Well not really - I was just being polite).

Čumil is, of course, a fictional character (unlike me who is real grey flannel and stuffing) but there are several theories about the real-life inspiration for the statue, ranging from a partisan who hid below the city's streets, a construction worker taking a break, to a peeping tom who just likes looking up women's dresses. Based on his grin, I fear it's the latter. If that's the case - as a freelance Goodwill Ambassador - I probably shouldn't have had my picture taken with him. My superiors at the UN may not look kindly on the fact that I was photographed with a sexual deviant. I wonder if this ever happens to Angelina Jolie?

I would add that since imitation is the highest form of flattery, you can now find "living statues" of Čumil in Bratislava. To be honest, those people just make my flannel crawl so I keep my distance from them. At least Čumil - the bronze version - doesn't ask me for money. It's probably a good thing though that I don't wear a skirt.

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