I don’t know what the culture of youtubers in Croatia is, but if you are one of their fans, I
would like to broaden your horizons with one Slovak youtuber. Maybe you’ve heard of him
before. On YouTube he is known as ‘Pppíter’, full name Peter Popluhár. His videos are also
suitable for foreigners, i.e. for non-Slovak speaking friends. The videos are in English with
Slovak subtitles. On YouTube he makes travel and funny videos in the style of standup. His
most famous videos are probably those in which he travelled around Africa. He also wrote his
travel experiences, to great success, in a book that was published in 2018. The book is called:
Kde všade som (ne)zomrel, and last autumn, a few months ago, it was published in English
under the title: All The Places I Didn’t Die: The Funniest Travel Diary. As you may have
guessed from its title, it is the epitome of tragicomicism enriched with cynicism, detachment,
but also the hypochondria of the author of ‘Pppítra’. In the book, he describes his experiences
of travelling to far-flung countries in Africa, Asia and America. He shares with us not only
the pleasant experiences but also the unpleasant ones. Perhaps even more prevalent are the
unpleasant ones, but that’s only because the author knows how to present them in a very
humorous way. They actually make up the funniest parts of the book. His storytelling is so
comedic that every reader will start laughing while reading it. It’s such a travelogue to unwind
and be entertained.

I’ll stay with the books for a while. Even travel books. This time it will be two books by writer
Dominika Sakmárová. They are collections of short stories that the author wrote down during
her stay in Taiwan, China and South Korea. The first of the books was published in 2020 and
is called: The Catskin and the Camel beside the Great Wall of China (Mačací kožuch
a ťava pri Čínskom múre). In it, the author shares her experiences in Taiwan, where she
lived for a few months as an exchange student during her university studies. But not only that.
Although stories from Taiwan dominate the book, it is divided into three parts.

First Taiwan, then the experiences of how her friends from ‘the Far East’ came to see her in Slovakia, and
finally some stories from her shorter stay in China. Her short stories are based on her real
experiences, which she presents as they happened. She presents them to the reader in a simple
and, most importantly, very humorous way. More than exploring the natural beauty of the
countries, the author concentrates mainly on describing their cultures. Things from everyday
life and how she herself experienced these cultural differences.

Dominica’s second book, “Korean Gnocchi,” (Kórejské halušky) was published in 2022.
As the title may make clear to you, this time she wrote down her experiences while living in
South Korea. She has already travelled there with her family, i.e. her husband and her
daughter of about two years old. Her husband got the opportunity to lecture there for a year at
their university, which specializes in Slovak and Czech culture and language. This book,
unlike her first, is understandably more focused on family life in South Korea. Nursery,
doctors, shopping and housing. She also presents her stories in a very humorous way.

Although I have chosen all travel books by Slovak authors to showcase, you can learn a lot
about Slovak culture and mentality from them as well. ‘Pppíter’ presents a style of humor that
is very popular in Slovakia. The so-called tragicomic. Slovaks like to use it in everyday
conversations. We are always complaining about something and we are not satisfied with
anything. However, many of us have the talent to present even the worst day in our lives as if
it were a joke and not our life. Dominika, on the other hand, comes across as a local patriot in
her books. No wonder. She grew up in eastern Slovakia, which keeps Slovak traditions much
better than western Slovakia. Although in her short stories she describes the culture, traditions
and customs of Asian countries, but they are always compared to Slovak ones.

We are a small country, so we don’t have a lot to show off when it comes to filmmaking. The
Czechs are better at it, which is why many of our actors are well-known and popular from
Czech films. But I will mention the latest Slovak film, which was presented to us on
Christmas Eve. It is called ‘Tri zlaté dukáty’ and it is a fiction tale from a historical setting.
For me, it is the most successful Slovak fairy tale I have seen. The main characters of the
story are a modern-minded shepherd, Juraj, who longs to travel to America in search of better
opportunities, and the castle mistress, Julia, who remains cursed for three hundred years
because of the vanity of her relatives. Every one hundred years she appears and must offer
one of the three golden groschen to the first person she sees. Only the one who does not miss
the golden pearl but returns it to her will be the one who kills her. But she must keep silent
about her curse.

I’ll mention music last. The band “Iconito”, although they don’t have many songs yet, but
these two are real works of art. “Slovenské devy” and “Korene” are their most famous
songs. Both of them are no more than 7 years old and they are processed in such a way that
traditional Slovak melodies are strongly incorporated in them. Whether it is the beautiful
voices of the women from the folk ensemble or the notes of the fiddle and dulcimer also in
traditional compositions, they sound beautifully blended into a modern composition. We
Slovaks today often forget what a beautiful country we have, that we have a rich history in
which there is certainly much to be proud of. That is why both of these compositions, thanks
to their lyrics and music, are a beautiful reminder for Slovaks not to be down on ourselves.

Izvor slike: Pixabay