In many respects, life under communism was much simpler. I do not write this in a nostalgic way, only because the amount of personal choices one could make was very limited. All restaurants, pubs and cafes were run by one company, so menus were similar, usually with many items not available. Shortages of everyday products were endemic. A rumor could spread that one store on one side of Prague just received a delivery of ...panties...and a line would form immediately and waiting could last several hours. This applied to just about everything. I lved above a butcher shop and there was always a line outside where people waited for hours, just to by some meat or sausage. The result of this was a thriving underground economy where everything was bartered without any money changing hands. Because there was no incentive for any company to do well - usually there was no competition - the workers did very little and pilfering was rife. "If you don't steal from the state, you steal from your family" was the mantra. There was a chronic shortage of housing. Many families shared a very small apartment for years. A new car took years to be delivered, which led to a paradox of used cars being more expensive then new as there was no waiting list. Civil liberties were non existent. People spied on each other, there was constant fear of the police and the possibility to be a victim of some trumped up charge. It's a grim picture, huh? But here's a thing. We did not know any better. I was born in 1951 and I spent 18 years in Czechoslovakia. I've never been abroad during that time and the only information I received that life is somewhat different in the West was from magazines and radio. So living this insular life, meant that our expectations were not that high. I don't recall my childhood as being unhappy or lacking something badly. We did not have a car, but neither did many others families. We'd escape at every opportunity to our little cabin in the country and life was not that bad. I suppose it'd get worse had I stayed....but I didn't.