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AROUND Slovakia 2003

Parrot is a PC freak
Lorry-load of pickled cucumbers stolen
Student fakes kidnapping to blackmail parents
Man shaves wife's pubic hair as revenge
More haste, less speed
Man stabs himself after his drink is taken
Valentine's Day ruins business for hookers
Elementary schools ban cell phones in class
Hungry man eats dog's dinner, sleeps in kennel
Polish leg fallsoff train in Žilina
Lucky gambler takes Sk39 million
Man who missed bus beats driver unconscious
Boomerang-shaped egg
Tractor collector dreams of opening a museum
Man naps behind wheel after crashing car
Sirens roar alert
Bikers' mass wedding
Heating the dead back to life
Honking in a friend's ear
Guinness record: 358 people squeezed in communal bus

January

Košice
Parrot is a PC freak


ED the parrot checkis his e-mail and surfs the web, but is yet to open a webpage or hook up a webcam.
photo: TASR

FOUR-MONTH-OLD baby parrot Ed, a rare blue-yellow Ara from the Košice Zoo in eastern Slovakia, is making his way in the PC world.
Although hidden from public eyes at the time, Ed discovered modern technology in the zoo's deputy director's office, where his incubator was kept.
"Ed is a very curious baby bird. He just wants to know about everything," Štefan Kollár, the zoo's deputy director told The Slovak Spectator.
When not sleeping or stepping on the back of the boss's office chair, Ed enjoyed playing with the keyboard of the desktop computer, staring at the screen in curiosity.
Kollár, who took care of Ed in his own flat in the first months of the bird's life, said Ed was very active and often woke up the whole Kollár family when he spotted something unusual or simply got scared in the night.
"The whole family was up, and half the block of flats too, he was screaming so loudly," said Kollár. Who moved Ed to his office at work. "I need to get some sleep at night!" he said.
The public had to wait until spring to see Ed, as the bird is sensitive to cold weather.


Senec
Lorry-load of pickled cucumbers stolen

A LORRY loaded with 7,920 bottles of pickled cucumbers was stolen from a parking lot near a filling station in the western Slovak town of Senec.
Interior Ministry spokeswoman Jana Pôbišová said that the unknown thief grabbed his swag on the night of January 24. The lorry and the pickles belonged to the Swedish firm PNO-Sverige, Helsingborg, which suffered losses of more than Sk4 million (Ř 95,000).


Považská Bystrica
Student fakes kidnapping to blackmail parents

A 17-YEAR-OLD student who went missing in early January was charged with theft and blackmail after police found out that she faked her ransom request of Sk40,000 (€960), addressed to her own parents in the name of the supposed kidnappers.
After high-school student Dana from the western Slovak town of Považská Bystrica ran away from home, she called her mother several times pretending to be her own kidnapper. She asked her parents to deposit the cash at Bratislava's main train station.
Police found out that Dana had moved in with her boyfriend in Banská Bystrica and, because she had no money, tried to fool her parents with the kidnapping story.
It also turned out that Dana had taken Sk120,000 (€2,900) last year from a stash hidden in the family's garage. Her parents, not knowing the truth, had reported the money as stolen.


February

Michalovce
Man shaves wife's pubic hair as revenge

A 35-YEAR-OLD woman who wanted her husband to be punished for shaving her pubic hair while she was sleeping was told by police that her husband had not committed any crime. The couple from the eastern Slovak town of Michalovce had not had sex for over a year, reported the Slovak daily Nový Čas.
The husband, unhappy with his life of celibacy, shaved off part of his wife's pubic hair while she was asleep. The woman immediately went to the police and said she wanted her husband to be punished for what he had done.
Róbert Ujhely, a spokesman for the Michalovce police, said: "The case was discussed with the regional attorney, who stated that no crime was committed."
The husband, however, is being investigated by the police for another crime: Only a few days later he was chasing his wife with a kitchen knife.


Spišská Nová Ves
More haste, less speed

RUNNING to school in the early morning, a teenager from Smižany banged his head into the side of a bus while it was passing a crosswalk.
The schoolboy, who has not been named by police, was waiting for the bus to pass the crossing so that he would make it to his school in the eastern Slovak town of Spišská Nová Ves on time.
Stanislav Blašcák, spokesman for the Spišská Nová Ves police, said that the young man stepped into the road when the bus was still at the crosswalk. He failed to estimate the time it would take for the bus to fully pass by, started to run, and smashed his head on the side of the vehicle.
He had to be hospitalised with a concussion and several cuts to his head.


Nové Mesto nad Váhom
Man stabs himself after his drink is taken

A MAN whose wife took a bottle away from him to stop him from drinking stabbed himself in the heart with a kitchen knife.
Police said that the man from Nové Mesto nad Váhom in western Slovakia was immediately taken to hospital and remains in critical condition.
According to Trenčín regional police spokeswoman Lenka Bušová, the suicide attempt was the result of a verbal fight between the married couple, in which the drunken husband wanted to continue drinking after coming home from the pub.
Enraged that his wife took the bottle away from him and hid it, he grabbed a kitchen knife and stabbed himself in the chest.


Western Slovakia
Valentine's Day ruins business for hookers

SLOVAK prostitutes have complained that the St. Valentine's Day weekend had a negative effect on their income.
According to the Slovak daily Narodná Obroda, prostitutes complained that despite the discounts they offered, their customers preferred to stay with their girlfriends and wives on the day of love.
"It's one of the worst weekends of the year," said Ina, 19, who on the night of February 19 was trying to attract customers near a highway between the western towns of Nitra and Trnava.
"Slovak men are incredibly faithful these days, and they tend to spend this holiday with their girlfriends or wives. Or, after having bought them Valentine's presents, they simply have no money left to pay for a half hour of pleasure," she said.
Some prostitutes discounted the prices of their services in an attempt to boost business.
One prostitute from the western town of Sereď said she had lowered her price for oral sex from Sk500 (€12) to Sk400 (€9.50) and "full service" from Sk1,000 (€24) to Sk800 (€19), but still no customers were interested
According to Narodná Obroda, many experienced prostitutes simply took the weekend off and those who did not may do so next year.


Bratislava
Elementary schools ban cell phones in class

AN INCREASING number of Bratislava's elementary schools are banning the use of mobile phones during classes.
Principals say they want to prevent classrooms from being turned into SMS centres. "It was beyond belief. Classmates were exchanging messages even though they were in the same room. We banned the use of mobiles last September," says Karol Müller, principal of the school on Vazovova Street. He recalls that students once even ordered a pizza during a lesson.
The school on Grösslingova Street has taken similar action. Its principal, Valéria Hazuchová, said: "We had a pupil request a taxi during a lesson, and another was 'broadcasting' a lesson to somebody on the other end of the line. I had never heard of anything like it before."
In church-run schools the situation is not so critical.
"We know that children carry phones to school, but we have not had to ban them yet," says Mária Kováčiková, principal of the elementary church school on Nedbalova Street.


Trenčín
Hungry man eats dog's dinner, sleeps in kennel

DESPERATELY hungry and sleepy, a 19-year-old man broke into an enclosed forest area near Trenčín, ate the watchdog's kibble, and fell asleep in the shocked animal's kennel.
When police arrived on the scene, after a call came that an unknown person was inside the area, they could not believe their eyes. They found Roman K. sleeping inside the kennel while the sad dog shivered outside its house.
Police said that Roman told them he had had a fight with his family five weeks ago and left home.
When asked whether or not he had been scared of the watchdog's reaction to his presence, Roman K. said: "I'm not afraid of dogs."
Roman K. said the dog was snarling only while he ate its food, but when he lay down to have a nap in the kennel, the dog lay outside his home without protest.


Žilina
Polish leg fallsoff train in Žilina

THE STATIONMASTER in the northern Slovak town of Žilina was astounded when he discovered a human leg had fallen off the undercarriage of an international express train arriving from Poland.
Soon after the Báthory Express arrived in Žilina on February 25, the train's undercarriage released a right leg with a hiking boot on the foot. Police said the limb had been amputated on Polish territory, between Warsaw and Zawiec, when the train hit a Polish man.
The stationmaster, Ivan Golis told the daily Pravda that one of the station's technicians discovered the leg.
"He shouted to me that there was a leg. I didn't believe him at first," Golis said, adding that after seeing the leg was really lying under the train he "ran away".
"I've never seen anything like this in the 20 years I have worked with the railways," he said.
The Slovak train police contacted their Polish colleagues, who confirmed that the leg most likely belonged to a man who was hit by the train that day in an accident that caused a four-hour delay.
A spokesman with the train police, Jozef Búranský, said the leg was taken to a coroner's office at a Žilina hospital, from which it would be sent back to Poland if the victim's family requested it.
"It's up to them whether the leg returns to Polish territory so that it can be buried with the body," Búranský said.


March

Prešov
Lucky gambler takes Sk39 million

IN THE country's highest lotto win in modern history, Milan Homola from the Prešov region netted a cash prize of Sk39.2 million (€940,000), after placing a bet in an eastern Slovak branch of the Tipos betting agency.
His lucky bet, six out of six numbers, was drawn on March 26 and he collected his prize on April 1. The winning numbers were 17, 23, 25, 27, 31, 39, and 15.
Mária Ondrejkovicová from Tipos said that the agency had deducted a tax of 20 percent from the jackpot, which left the victor with a net profit of Sk31.4 million (€750,000).
The cash could buy 100 of the cheapest Škoda car models, a luxury villa in the best quarter of the capital city, 20 standard flats anywhere in Slovakia, or a small hotel in a popular holiday resort.


April

Bratislava
Man who missed bus beats driver unconscious

IN AN UNEXPLAINED ambush, a man who missed Bratislava bus number 97 at 23:00 on April 2 got into a taxi, caught up with the bus, forced his way into the driver's cabin, and kicked him unconscious, before disappearing in the taxi.
The bus driver, Marcel M., 26, was hospitalised and is recovering from concussion and shock. He said that all he remembered about the attack was that the man ran out of the taxi and into his cabin, and attacked him without any word of explanation.
Police are now searching for the attacker.


May

Nový Život
Boomerang-shaped egg

A HEN has laid a boomerang-shaped egg, but the owners of her flock have until now failed to identify the producer of the curiosity.
Mária Kertésová, from the western Slovak village of Nový Život, said she still does not know which of her hens produced the wonder egg.
"I wish I knew which one it was," Kertésová told the Slovak daily Nový Čas on June 7. "I hope we will be able to track her down one day."
Apart from the boomerang-shaped egg, one of the hens is also suspected of having laid normal egg-shaped eggs of dramatically different sizes.
Kertésová told the daily that she and her family also used the hens as predictors of the weather. She claimed that when her hens lay a lot of eggs, the following day is bound to be a beautiful one.
"Depending on the number of eggs, we can tell what the weather will be the next day. My children ask me every day how many eggs the hens have laid," she said.


Podbranč
Tractor collector dreams of opening a museum

DUŠAN Pražienka, 73, who over several decades has collected more than 90 historical tractors, various other pieces of agricultural machinery, and cars, recently received Sk1.3 million (€32,000) to put his precious but corroding fleet under a roof.
Pražienka's collection includes a 1942 Lanz Bulldog made by the well-known German tractor maker, as well as dozens of other agricultural machines, largely from the first half of the 20th century.
Last year, after increasing rust bit into his collection, Pražienka decided to introduce himself to then Agriculture Minister Pavol Koncoš, who promised a ministry grant to house his machines.
"I told [the minister] about my collection and he was excited," Pražienka told the Slovak weekly Plus 7 Dní.
After Pražienka sent an investment proposal to the ministry, bureaucrats approved his grant, and in August 2002 he was sent the money.
Pražienka said he was still organising permits and land-ownership rights to get the tractor park up and running. His dreams, however, do not stop there.
"My goal is to turn it into a museum one day," Pražienka said.


June

Bohdanovce
Man naps behind wheel after crashing car

A DRUNKEN driver did not bother to call for help after crashing his car, deciding to have a nap in the vehicle instead.
The TASR news agency reported that an unnamed man was driving drunk when his car crashed and rolled over near a cemetery in the eastern Slovak village of Bohdanovce. He suffered no injuries.
After the accident, however, the intoxicated driver fell asleep instead of ringing for help.
He was found an hour later by a police patrol that was surprised to find the driver snoring happily behind the wheel.
When they woke him up, however, he became aggressive and attacked an officer, causing Sk1,000 (€24) damage to the policeman's uniform.


July

Trebišov
Sirens roar alert

EXTREMELY high temperatures activated public sirens, setting dozens of eastern Slovak towns and villages on alert for 15 minutes.
Slovak media reported that sirens in the Trebišov district sounded the alarm in the town of Trebišov, as well as in more than 50 outlying villages connected to the system early in the morning on July 23.
The sirens then triggered alarms, causing locals to wonder what was going on.
"It was an unpleasant awakening. The sirens were howling. In Byšta village, grannies met in front of their houses and were wondering what was going on. Then they found out that the same was happening in surrounding villages," Jarmila Havrilková, 24, from Trebišov said to the Nový Čas daily.


Duchonka
Bikers' mass wedding


MOTORCYCLE lovers celebrated their unions with a roar...
photo: TASR

ELEVEN couples that share the passion of riding motorcycles said "I do" in the country's biggest mass motorcyclist wedding. The wedding ceremony took place in the western Slovak village of Prašice as part of an annual bikers' meeting on July 5 and 6 this year.
Along with the couples a motorcade of 200 cycles attended the wedding ceremony, which was organised by the Slovak records team in an attempt to be listed in the Guinness Book of World Records.
The bikers attending the ceremony included teenagers as well as people in their fifties.
According to Igor Svítok from the Slovak records team, the mass wedding ceremony was a success and the event might even make it into the Guinness book.
"We'll provide the data to the Guinness book. I personally do not know of any other similar mass wedding so I think there is a chance to be listed," Svítok told the state-run TASR news agency.


August

Zvolen
Heating the dead back to life

CEMETERY administrators had to call the police after one woman refused to leave a dead body, claiming she wanted to bring him back to life by lying on him and heating him up.
According to Eva Burianová, the administrator of a cemetery in the central Slovak town of Zvolen, an unknown woman came to her on August 1, asking to see the dead body of a 62-year-old man who was to be buried one hour later.
Burianová told the Slovak daily Nový Čas that the woman claimed she was the man's niece; therefore, the administrator let her into the room where the body was stored.
"We led her to the body in a cold room. [Seeing the deceased before the funeral] is a common request by family," Burianová said.
The administrator eventually realised that the woman had been in the cooler room for quite a long time and thus went to see her. What she saw shocked her.
"She was heating him up with her own body, completely undisturbed by the fact that there were two more dead bodies in the room. 'For God's sake, what are you doing?' I shouted at her," Burianová said.
The woman then reportedly said that she was just bringing the dead man back to life.
Because the woman refused to leave the cemetery premises, the administrator then called the police to remove her from the area.


September

Bánovce nad Bebravou
Honking in a friend's ear

A MAN who wanted to play a joke on his sleeping friend by honking a horn in his ear may be jailed for two years after nearly deafening his friend.
The incident took place in late June. The 36-year-old man approached his 25-year-old friend, who was asleep on a football pitch in Rybany village near Bánovce nad Bebravou, and honked the horn into his sleeping friend's ear.
The victim suffered trauma and continues to have hearing problems. His initial treatment took more than six weeks.


October

Bratislava
Guinness record: 358 people squeezed in communal bus

IN A NEW Guinness record, 358 students squeezed into a bus made for about 100 passengers.
The Guinness record took place in the student neighbourhood of Mlynská dolina. A number 39 bus was packed with passengers and, according to the Nový Čas daily, one student even broke her leg in the jam.
The 39 is known for its busy morning operation when the majority of the students who live in Mlynská's dorms run for their lectures in the city.
One 20-year-old participant in the Guinness record said to the state-run TASR news agency, "if it weren't for the Guinness record, the full bus would remind me of everyday morning reality."

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