Archives for posts with tag: Czechoslovakia

Always Ready For A New Business

Haresh Shah

 

chickenbiz2

Must have been early 1990 when landed on my desk is an impressive corporate brochure of Autraco Holdings based in Vienna, Austria. In the cover letter signed by its CEO Rolf Dolina, he expresses his desire to want to publish Playboy magazine in Czechoslovakia. But we are already in negotiations with Vladimír Tichý of the Gennex Corporation, the publishers of magazines, books, films and video that included the Czech language edition of ComputerWorld. That in itself wouldn’t have stopped me from entertaining another option, especially because the Autraco Holdings boasts of its wide reach in the former eastern European countries that include Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Poland. The countries where they are sole distributors of Memorex USA, Honda automobiles and Fuji films. Enclosed with the letter are some issues of the Czech language version of Germany’s Burda Moden, widely distributed and hugely popular women’s magazine – similar to the Simplicity patterns in the United States. The magazine he was publishing with Hana Wagenhofer – his Prague based business partner in several joint ventures. And it is mainly for Hanna that he is so keen on doing Playboy. It would give her a stronger presence on the Czech publishing scene.

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 And The Power Of The Power Before And After The Communism

Haresh Shah

hotelrubble

‘So what are some of the Czech specialties?’

‘We only have three.’

‘And they are?’

‘Pork, dumplings and cabbage. Dumplings, pork and cabbage and cabbage, dumplings and pork.’ Answers Ivan (Chocholouš) and breaks out in a big laugh.

‘And of course there is Svíčková…’ he continues. Which is not as common to come by.

Every time I return to Prague, my dilemma remains the same. What to eat? There are other things on the menu – klobasa? Breaded and fried chicken breasts?  Fried cheese? Fruit dumplings? But time and time again, Ivan will make me take the U turn and order Vepřo, Knedlo, Zelo. By now he knows my taste. More like my sensitivity to the fat contents and the toughness of the meat normally served by most of the local restaurants. Pork, dumplings and cabbage being the national dish, the chances are that in a good restaurant the cut they serve would be tender compared to the neighborhood hospodas.

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What Good Is A Teacher If His Pupil Can’t One Up Him?

Haresh Shah

bowtie3b

I am talking to Ivan (Chocholouš) on the kitchen phone, looking out at the first tulips that have popped up in the flower bed in the backyard of my house in Evanston. It’s Wednesday the April 17th, in the year 1991. It’s been hectic as can be. I have taken off half a day to stay home and work on the final details of the launch in Czechoslovakia – only eight days away, Based on what Ivan reports from Prague, everything seems to be going smoothly with organizing of the launch events. The press conference, welcoming of the  European editors, catering, transportation. And the most importantly, now that I have signed off on every single page, the first issue is now ready to roll off the presses.

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Haresh Shah

From Sleazy Sex Show To The Celebration Of Suave Saxophonist’s 50th

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When I was based in Munich, it wasn’t unusual for me to start my day with breakfast in Munich, have lunch in Essen and land in Paris just in time for dinner and the next evening have dinner in Milan. Georg Kührer of the printing house Girardet once observed: you hop on and off the plane more often than I do a bus. Amazing. But true. Even so, the eleven days I remember the most about my relentlessly on the go happened years later when I was living in Chicago. What to me is mind-boggling still, is the intensity of those days, being in constant motion and deprived of sleep. And I don’t even drink coffee, let alone take any other stimulants. I thrived on the natural adrenaline and the high I got from interacting with people.

I began my journey in Chicago on the afternoon of Thursday, October 15,1992, arriving in Budapest the next morning.  I loved the way the airlines wine and dine you in the front of the plane on their intercontinental flights. No phones ringing, nowhere you can escape. I am not for watching movies or doing any real work on planes. Reading yes. But mostly what I love the most is to really let my hair down, enjoy the treats, perhaps snooze a little bit and arrive at my destination, if not well slept, quite relaxed.

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