Finally! The cimbál has arrived. It was quite an undertaking: not exactly easy for my teacher to back his car through my narrow driveway gates after hauling the instrument across town, then it needed to be lugged up one flight through the stairwell, into my room, and reassembled. And that is only the story's happy ending.
I’m renting the instrument from the Konzervatoř Brno (Brno conservatory). Like other seemingly straightforward activities (e.g., baking cookies), this was nothing of the kind. My teacher, a professor at the conservatory, had no problems with me borrowing the instrument since it is “old” (from 1992) and not in “prime” condition, but before he could allow me to take it, we had to confirm the arrangement with the conservatory’s administration. A nod and a handshake kind of agreement, right? Not exactly. I am now the proud holder of a one-page contract that is signed by me and the director of the school. The contract is, well, Czech (that is to say, Slavic but with a generous dosage of up-tight Teutonic bureaucracy thrown in). On top of the “symbolic” monthly fee (I am renting the instrument after all) they added 19% sales tax (though I’m not buying the instrument). Then (if I’m reading the contract correctly) there is a clause that entitles the conservatory to use the instrument for two days every month (“for their needs”?), another that obligates the conservatory to pay “0.1%” of the cost for repairs if they take more than fourteen days, and one that forbids me from “traveling outside the Czech Republic with the cimbál.” (I added italics because it’s inconceivable that I could even get the thing outside of my house by myself, let alone out of the country when I don’t have a car. Where would I even take the instrument within the borders? No one has been asking for any performances yet.) But the important thing is that, after three weeks of missed appointments, late trains, and lots of SMSs (short [text] message service for mobile phones), everyone was finally in the right place at the right time. This means that I can finally begin on another phase of research, hopefully at a faster pace than things up to this point.