The former mayor of Prague Adriana Krnáčová, after quitting politics, threw herself into writing. She recently published a fascinating book called Haughtiness, which reveals behind the scenes of Prague's politics, corruption and power struggles. In the fictional story, she drew on her rich experiences and it's a really dark read. As she admits in an interview for LP-Life.com, politics are terrible and incredibly stressful environment, so she is glad she's out. Thanks to that, she now has more time for her family, writing and sports.
Wikipedia says that you identify with your nickname Krnda, sometimes you even sign with it. How did it even come up?
I don't even have an idea came up with it! Someone once told me it was an acronym between a mole and a panda. But I don't know why it was attributed to me. (laughter)
And do you really sign like that?
Definitely upon request, why not? One has to identify with one's nicknames. It's said that when a person is insignificant, they have no nickname.
Back when you were in politics, you said that once you've finished, you would take care of your grandchildren. Are you now managing to do that?
I really look after my family now more. I neglected them for several years, they were really "laying it" onto me a little, but it's very nice, when we all meet, there's a lot of us. Life has inevitably calmed down a bit, and that suits me better. And when it comes to work, I had to finish the book first, which is what I did the most after I quit the politics.
You have one grandchild. What kind of grandmother are you?
Definitely not a babysitting one! Also because of the Chinese virus raging in the recent months, we haven't had much opportunity to see each other. We tended to stay away and we were not much in contact, we called more, though. This year is just awful and I hope nothing worse comes.
And when you're with your grandson, what do you like to do together?
Since he's small, he's three and something, so I can't do much with him yet. In addition, he's kind of a loner, he likes to play alone, so I rather just watch him. (laughs) I'm not really good with small children, and my children also told me that I wasn't really good with them. I look forward to him getting older, it'll get better then. Even with the number of grandchildren, it will definitely improve, I see no other option.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I play sports, the most. Then I read, I take care of the family, I cook, I bake. And then I draw.
Paintings, or rather some sketches?
Just drawings, it's kind of a relaxation method. When something comes to mind, I draw.
Do you still practice yoga every day?
Not every day, but I try to do ten or fifteen minutes of stretching daily.
How do you keep fit?
I'm not stuffing myself! (laughs) I try to eat healthy, eating small portions continuously throughout the day. I don't eat a lot at once, I try keep myself in check. But I also recently had a hamburger, I had a craving for it. I do different sports, basically something every day.
How did your regime change after you left from the municipality, when you became a "normal" person again?
I always tried to be a normal person and not a so-called politician, I hated the lofty manners. But most importantly, my stress levels decreased. And that's very good, because stress is the worst thing there is. Politics is a highly stressful environment and you can do whatever you want, but it still affects you, even if you do a lot of sports or try to relax. But you don't have much time for it and sooner or later it will affect your health.
Where do you get joy?
I'm happy every day. Even a small thing can be a joy, for example when I write a chapter of my book, when the weather is nice and I can run. I also like meeting friends I couldn't see because of my work, so we skype or call. I still have my friends I had before, and I won't change that.
What helps you with sadness?
I haven't been sad in a long time, so I can't answer that. Probably music… Sometimes it's hip hop, sometimes it's classical. It helps when one can "turn it up" at home.
According to what you wrote in your book Haughtiness, politics is a pretty ugly profession. When you think of politics, did it give you something positive?
The knowledge that I never want to go back there. (laughter)
That's very positive!
Yes! (laughs) One should never say "never", but for me it's such an uncreative environment that's crammed with selfishness, stupidity, self-centeredness. People often run after something, not even analyzing if the measure makes any sense. But because it's proposed by their political party, they have to push for it at all costs. It's not useful.
We see it even now in the time of the corona crisis - one protective measure changes with another, there is something new every day. Politicians stand by it, other times they don't, they often don't even have it supported by the numbers or data. You can't work like this in a crisis situation, that's amateurism. It'll only lead to a lack of faith in any institution in this state, which is basically the beginning of the end. And if some politicians want it this way, then God save us, as they say.
You've been in politics before when you led the Transparency International. You must've seen it then and guessed that it's as you say…
When you have some idea, you still don't know for sure. You never know what will happen in the end. I didn't want to go to the local politics and to be the mayor, that was the last thing I wanted. It's a very ungrateful position. But when people later asked me why I didn't leave halfway through, I said, "I'm not a coward!" I don't leave halfway through my work, even if it's uncomfortable or hard, I've never done it. I fought to the end.
What was the worst part?
People kept attacking me, even though it wasn't my fault. I didn't know why at first, but then I realized that's what politics is about. I shouldn't take it personally, it's just politics. I learned to live with it, although it was hard, but I did it.
How did the family and your partner perceive it?
Terribly. My kids almost hated me for it, because they had to read nonsense about me on Facebook. It was very uncomfortable for them, especially when they connected them to me at work. They always told me, “When are you finally going to quit? Forget about it finally! Leave!” Then the children came to terms with it, but our relationship didn't improve much. It's better now, though, maybe because I cut myself off from that movement.
Have you ever been worried about yourself or your family?
Maybe a little about myself, but not too seriously. That someone would take me out? No, the position is too insignificant, it's a representative position and it only seems to be powerful. And that's the paradox - everything is on you, even though realistically you can't really influence anything.
I've always had the feeling that you're a very tough woman and that you probably piss off the guys in the politics a lot. How did they "handle" you?
They couldn't handle me. At the beginning, they slandered me for being vulgar, rude, not communicating. Then they said I spoke too much, then I spoke too little. And so it went on, but when they saw that nothing would change, they stopped. It was very difficult for the male section.
Should more women enter the politics?
Yeah, why not. Let them try it. But it's not a pleasant environment for a woman. If a miracle happened and half the men were exchanged for women overnight, it would be different. But since women are usually alone in the top positions, it's like having a pack of small dogs - they'd overpower even a predator. They'll kill it, bite it, defeat it. And so that's how it looks like when a woman gets into a strong position. When she defends herself, then they let her "have" it on social networks and in the media. And she will learn things about herself that she has no idea she's even doing.
Are you experiencing love now?
Yes, I have a great partner.
Have you been with him since your time in the politics?
No, only after I left the City Hall. It would've been impossible, if I exposed a partner to such stress then, he would've left me the span of five minutes. No partner could stand it, I wouldn't want to expose him to such attention.
What is most important to you in a relationship now?
The time we dedicate to ourselves and into which no one interferes. I try to keep us out of everything.
What do you like to do together in your free time?
Sports. But it's not too doable because he's a triathlete. (laughs) So when we go swimming in the pool, he swims his style and I swim mine.
What makes you laugh the most at the moment?
The press conferences of the government. (laughs) Czech Television should put them in the archives and release them in 20 years with the caption: "This is how the crisis was being solved back then!" They can be funny, but it's more like Gogol's laughter through tears.
Do you still enjoy Prague?
It's the most beautiful city. And if we weren't afraid of the backward and cowardly people, who wouldn't allow the city to develop, I'd be completely satisfied. It's probably up to the next generation to make a difference. Prague shouldn't remain an open-air museum, I have a different opinion on this. We could've had the Kaplický's Library here, a beautiful bridge by Calatrava, we could've had other things. Maybe next time.