So here I am, opening another chapter in the book of wonder. (You should watch Bjork’s video I posted yesterday if you haven’t done your homework on those yet).
I’m leaving Budapest this morning and although it’s upsetting I feel like it’s just another swerve on the strange sequence of my last few years. We’re slowly approaching the brighter horizon and leaving the dark hours of the sleeping city behind. I passed the corners, the lights, the rain, and the blurry-eyed people on the metro. The dark face of the city only showed a few scars this time, as it always does when you see it at its hour of weakness – when sun doesn’t shine yet and the coffees of the city haven’t brewed long enough to shoo away its crooked expression.
I feel like this year will be a yet another year of changes. Change seems to follow me ever since I’ve left home behind and in the long run it seems to be the only constant in my little life. I’m going home for a few days before I make the bigger move back to London. I felt a tickle of happiness when I saw a little Polish flag and a familiar looking license plate. But today when it’s so much easier to move, what is it that drives us to go home, stay home, or have a home period? Is it the longing for familiarity and belonging? Longing for the meaning we build around our states, objects, and people? It’s amazing how deep the wiring for this goes. I always get so much pleasure out of speaking Polish to shop keepers and little people when I go home, but I’m not sure that this at all shows how much I belong. I feel ever more distance to the idea of belonging to any certain place year after year. I love going home, seeing people, and re-visiting memories, but I can never quite decide if it’s more than a visiting place anymore. I feel more and more comfortable around people who share this confusion of space and decide to re-create themselves and their ‘homes’ outside their birth-place bracket; they have become a sort of a refuge for me. Maybe later on age will bring answers to these questions.
I’m in and out of being heart-broken today, as I’m leaving Budapest for good early tomorrow morning. The dizzying lure of London seems ever so distant right now…
A friend (whose webpage you can find under ‘Equivocality’) showed me these Michel Gondry videos and I can’t help but share. Sorry to you who are already ‘in’ on this one!
Budapest is entranced by the Sziget festival going on 24/7 for the next week on one of the city’s islands. The streets seem to have reclaimed their tourist population, but this time a peculiar one: everyone seems a little over 20, sweaty and with rather ragged expressions. Sziget is what they’re here for.
I decided to check out what they came for and went to see Manu Chao yesterday. Sure enough, I was caught up in endless lines with the fellow sweaty passengers and proceeded to enter what seemed to be the biggest music event I’ve ever seen. As far as I can remember, the island hosted over 60 stages with different music themes and performances. Lots of fun, though the ubiquitous dust forming a yellowish cloud over the entire island was a bit hard to bear. Maybe I’m just not the camping kind anymore.
My dear parents finally made their way to Budapest! They were here last 40 years ago and as they say, some things seem to have changed, as the present lack of Stalin’s statues compared to their last visit…I always knew that they did a fair amount of outdoor activities back in Krakow, but the extent to which they’ve been tirelessly criss-crossing this town for the past few days has been pretty amazing. Every day they come back home and tell tales of new places – places I quite often can’t recall despite having been here for a bit longer than those two…
Of course, the family obsession with food has come through as well on their trip and I just wish I had had a video camera to film their arrival. My parents brought two suitcases with them – one with a few things for their stay here, the other one full of food. This is no exaggeration, the list includes 9 types of cheese, 3 loafs of bread, ham, kielbasa, fruit, two cakes, butter, a load of beloved pierogi and bigos. What else could you ask for?
A note for those in Budapest: Farger has reopened, though the main back room remains closed…
Also, I’ve added a new Budapest photo album to my site – feel free to check it out!
Spring has officially hit the city. Couples in need of privacy, leaves on the trees, and flip-flops have been swarming across the city for days. Budapest’s tourism is back in full swing, nightclubs harder to get into, and streets fuller of aimlessly wandering foreigners. Just on my way to this cafe there was a car parade of old VW cars – I guess you just never know what Hungarians are going to come up with next. A riot, parade, or late night hour at the Rudas bath, take your pick. I’m going to miss the streets of Budapest.
Hi everyone, I know you haven’t been seeing much happening here, but I am actually working on a new post. It’s one of those bigger ones, so I’m just taking time digesting things. Anyway, just wanted to say this, as I feel under an ever-increasing pressure of losing readership, which I would not like to see happen…
Oh yeah, for those in Budapest, you should know that Farger is gone! Yes, gone, the insides ripped out and no coffee! Nem tudom why, no! However, I did see the owner parading in front of it on his mobile phone with a smile on his face, so maybe they’re just expanding before the summer or something…
That’s right, Budapest has finally left the winter season, which really never came…The trees are starting to bloom and the longer days together with the highter temperatures are leaving the city in a bit of a better mood. Who knows, maybe soon enough I’ll stop being sick too?
I have finally signed up for a Russian course here to refresh my humble knowledge of the language and so the sweet laziness of my days here is pretty much over. I haven’t been writing lately, mostly because I’ve been busy with work and various classes I take, but also because my social life has picked up a lot after the meeting I described in my last post.
A long weekend is coming up on the Hungarian calendar and who knows, if I don’t get even more sick, maybe I’ll actually get to enjoy it. If I don’t go away, there will be another HC meeting to attend, and if I do go out of town (though I’ll hate to miss the meeting), I might make my way to Serbia on the train. Belgrade would probably be the spotlight of the trip. Fingers crossed!
Working as an English teacher should come with health insurance that would provide care with an English-speaking doctor. This is the second time I am sick since coming back from the States and yet again I’m not going to work and trying to find a doctor who’d speak some English and be willing to see my for a reasonable fee. I rang about 7 offices, 5 out of which ended up not speaking English despite being listed in medical care for English speakers for Budapest; the two other ones wanted to charge me a 100 euros or more for a visit and that I just wasn’t willing to pay. I imagined Budapest, like Krakow, to be just crowded with all sorts of public healthcare offices – the question was how to tap into them and get to see a doctor without speaking any Hungarian. Well, people at a pharmacies and receptionists turned out to be very helpful pointing me in the right directions despite the language gap. After several bizarre Hungarian/English/bodylanguage conversations, I finally found a doctor who perhaps wasn’t the nicest, but talked to me in Russian and doled out some medication (that hasn’t helped that much so far). All free and in Russian – what else could you ask for?
The construction in our building has taken to the point of drilling all day from 7:20 in the morning and producing so much dust that you can no longer tell the patterns on our courtyard’s tiles. We have for a while thought that the bills we’re paying on our apt here are pretty high, but well, it turns out that they are usually increased for the time of construction to help pay for it. Not only will be most probably not get to see the effects of the noise that’s kept us up for the past half a year, but we’re actually paying for it as well!
I know I haven’t been writing, but that’s just because of the time sacrifice I’ve had to take in order to create yet another thing online, this time a web page that’ll be a collection of pretty much all my pictures. To nerd or not to nerd, that is the question, I guess, but you should be able to see the effects pretty soon. Oh yeah, does anyone know how to put a feed from a blogger blog onto a .Mac site?
My life in Budapest has settled back into its little routine from before I left for the U.S., only that now I actually have to make sure I dress well enough, since the global warming deal seems to have been cancelled temporarily. Puddles have frozen and it has now become officially too cold to sit outside anymore, therefore the Budapestians huddle yet closer together in their even smokier cafes.
And so I’m back, back from beyond it seems. Feels just great to be back, though I’ve got to say I had a blast throughout the past month. I want to say thank you to everyone who made my stay in the U.S. what it was – there was no way of me getting the texture of experience I got without my dear friends and family over yonder!
Budapest is great and it feels more lively than when I left it. The winter is nowhere to be seen and everyone seems to be getting a hell of a kick of what may be the global warming in central Europe. Well, bad as some say it may be in 50 years, for now I’m loving it!
Things are back to normal – I’m back to work, people still stand all over Hungarian metro escalators, and Russia is doing its gas-cutting charades. I spent last September and love Russia more than I should probably, but I’ve still got to say that country does not seem to ever cease feeding the world with more and more nonsense. I loved the title of an article in the latest Economist about Putin and the next election – ‘Eanie meany miney me’…
By the way, all these pictures are from my trip to Russia, not Budapest.