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My Big Fat Hungarian Adventure (long-ish story)

 
 
Reply Sat 8 Mar, 2003 03:07 pm
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Type: Discussion • Score: 3 • Views: 6,654 • Replies: 32
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sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Sat 8 Mar, 2003 03:20 pm
Shocked

Wowee!!! Glad you're OK. (Are you OK? I'm assuming you're back stateside, have you had things checked out by your regular doc?) What an adventure. Well-written, too.
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ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Sat 8 Mar, 2003 03:36 pm
Zowie, boy, that was some adventure. You must be some skinny now, with all those missed meals.

Sooooo, would you consider going back to Hungary, as a visitor?
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littlek
 
  1  
Reply Sat 8 Mar, 2003 06:11 pm
glad you're back home, SP, sorry about the accident!
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edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Sat 8 Mar, 2003 06:53 pm
Seal Poet! Welcome home!
Great yarn. I don't have the background to follow a lot of it, but I was entranced all the way through.
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gezzy
 
  1  
Reply Sat 8 Mar, 2003 07:09 pm
Wow! What a story. I'm sorry to hear about your hand, but am glad to hear that everything worked out in the end. I'm exausted just reading your story.
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SealPoet
 
  1  
Reply Sat 8 Mar, 2003 08:45 pm
Definitly not skinny from missed meals. The meals I had... well, I see my regular doctor Monday morning, and I sure hope he doesn't want to check my cholesterol! The last meal in that Budapest restaurant was a tenderloin of beef stuffed with goose liver! I could just feel smaller arteries slamming shut.

One major highlight I neglected to mention was the look on Mrs. SealPoet's face when I came through the gate! Honeymoon all over again!

Yes, I'm stateside, and yes, I'd love to go back and see Budapest in the day. One tourist thing I really want to see: there's a sculpture park on the outskirts of town where they took all the monumental Communist statuary.

Oh! and Sozobe... because of the time in hospital I ran out of reading material, so I bought a book in the Frankfurt airport: The Pleasure of Finding Things Out, The Best Short Works of Richard P. Feynman.
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nimh
 
  1  
Reply Sat 8 Mar, 2003 09:09 pm
wow, thats some work ethic! i'm impressed.

i lived in hungary for a short while once but i never got to tatabanya - i hadnt been stimulated much to by a travel guidebook description that suggests your first impression of the town were pretty much spot-on (and explains about the statue you saw):

"[..] Tatabanya, an ugly industrial town surrounded by ravaged countryside. Its only "sight", the giant bronze Turul statue, can be glimpsed from a train carriage window, perched on a mountain top overlooking the grimy sprawl. Erected to commemorate the thousandth anniversary of the Magyar conquest, this great monument shows the legendary bird of prey clutching the sword of Arpad in its talons. The only reasons for a closer encounter with Tatabanya are the summer Jazz Festival and the chance to go walking in the Vertes Hills, where the ruined Vitany Castle broods on a crag 5km south of town. Legend has it that the cowslips that grow around here during April are able to guide you towards hidden treasure."

;-)
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nimh
 
  1  
Reply Sat 8 Mar, 2003 09:14 pm
You're right about the Budapest sculpture park ... it's really cool.

http://home.wanadoo.nl/anepiphany/images/budapest97c.jpg
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SealPoet
 
  1  
Reply Sun 9 Mar, 2003 06:42 am
Next time... there will be a next time.

And I can say that I know my job like the back of my hand...
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dagmaraka
 
  1  
Reply Thu 13 Mar, 2003 09:03 pm
ugh, sounds like quite a trip. certainly memorable, to say the least. i would not see the statues if they paid me, for i had to stare at them growing up in slovakia, but they probably do seem intriguing for those who didn't have to stare at them. opera house is very impressive, isn't it? and mmm, good old paprikash, i must cook it this weekend. with dumplings... am glad to be in academia, i can only get papercuts or blisters from typing. will stick to it for good i think.
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littlek
 
  1  
Reply Thu 13 Mar, 2003 10:17 pm
You'll make paprikash this weekend? Will I like them?
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nimh
 
  1  
Reply Sun 16 Mar, 2003 06:58 pm
dagmaraka wrote:
i would not see the statues if they paid me, for i had to stare at them growing up in slovakia


yup, i can imagine that!

dagmaraka wrote:
but they probably do seem intriguing for those who didn't have to stare at them.


yes ... i mean, it is really double. on the one hand, as a foreign visitor you are well aware that these statues stand for a historic experience involving great grief, (state) crime and tragedy, not to mention a fair share of sheer dreariness. on the other hand they are indeed a bit of a curiosum, not quite picturesque but definitely intrigueing.

in that sense i think the 'solution' of the budapest statue park is cool. by dumping them all together - in sometimes arbitrary seeming, sometimes distinctly mocking-seeming manner - in a park on the edge of town, the legacy they represent has quite demonstratively been put on the garbage heap of history. yet they are still there - the historic experience they evoke hasnt been erased from the city landscape. they are still there to see and ponder, whether it is a pondering in wonder, as western visitor, in commemoration, as someone aware of the crimes of communism, or even in sentimental nostalgia, as there seem to be groups of older hungarians going there in some kind of tribute, too (the visitorsbook recorded a group of may day visitors from the "senior citizens club of ujpest neighbourhood 13", or something like that).

it feels right that there is a park allowing all of that. some kind of inventive compromise between petersburg, where (back in 95, at least), lenin was still in the mayor's front garden and towering over the finland station, and east-berlin, where both the lenins and the wall (barring the tiniest remnant) have literally been shredded - as if they were never there.

the park also did make me think. not just because of seeing the different reactions it provoked, but also because there's all sorts there, of statues i mean. there was one statue depicting the republican fighters in the spanish civil war. that gave me a start, to find that one dumped too. makes you think about the meaning of images across cultures. b/c to me, the republicans were freedom fighters. the in majority anarcho-syndicalist republicans did fight the good fight, after all, against franco's fascists, even if they were stabbed in the back by the minority of soviet-steered communists agitating among them. but to the average hungarian, i'm sure the statue (which of course mentions nothing about the strife among the republicans) was just one more propaganda piece they were forced to look at every day by party order, like at the red star alight on top of the parliament building.

i just came back from vienna. turns out vienna is one of two remaining cities in the world - the other is his georgian place of birth - where there is still a plaque commemorating stalin. on the house where he once lived, for half a year, in 1913 or something (trotsky, hitler and stalin all lived in vienna at the time, actually - it was the only time stalin ever went abroad, barring the potsdam and teheran summits).

apparently, when the soviets withdrew from vienna, they made the austrian government sign a state treaty, in which one minor provision was that the latter would gaurantee the safety of the monument to the soviet soldiers - and the stalin plaque. after it was paintbombed and literally shot at, austrian policemen were stationed to guard it - for three years. later on, the soviets actually wanted it off, but the austrian government nervously insisted on sticking to the letter of the law. now, the owner of the building says he abhors stalin as much as anyone, but "its part of [the history of] this house", and it does no harm.

i like the argument of respecting a place's history, whether we like it or not - after all, how many great war criminals are not honored in many a European capital's monument. in amsterdam, there was once a stalinallee. i wouldnt mind a sign reminding you of that, simply because to realise that is just flabbergasting, and sure makes you think. still, how far do you go in 'respecting history', considering the sheer number of 'monuments' the communists left scattered across eastern europe's towns and the bad memories they evoke for many?

but the key element, in any case, in the owner's shrgging statement, i guess is the second one, about it "not doing harm". stalinism is no danger anymore in austria - in fact, communism itself has become something of folklore in western europe, so a plaque can be looked at as a mere historical artefact - whereas a plaque commemoraring hitler's death would be politically much more problematic. the same wouldnt go for romania, though, i'm sure.

lots of interesting questions involved, in any case ;-).
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SealPoet
 
  1  
Reply Mon 17 Mar, 2003 05:32 am
I never denied that I am a Westerner. Can't... it's too big to hide.

But I am also a 'patron of the arts' type... well anyway I think the sculptures themselves are worth looking at (having only seen pictures so far.)
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dagmaraka
 
  1  
Reply Mon 17 Mar, 2003 07:33 pm
oh, but of course! i agree fully, i also think the park was an excellent idea. that way people like me do not have to go and see the statues that bother them due to personal grievances, while the rest of the world may learn about history and people of the country first-hand, or well, second-hand. i am just reading two wonderful books about forgotten statues, that's why it caught my attention in the first place. one is 'staging the past', about the descendant countries of the habsburg empire and their memorials, and the other one, absolutely breathtaking little book about the czech republic (mostly) is unfortunately in czech. for the multitude of the czech-speaking people on this web its' title is 'Pomniky-zapomniky'. Cool title anyway, right?
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nimh
 
  1  
Reply Tue 18 Mar, 2003 06:51 pm
dagmaraka wrote:
title is 'Pomniky-zapomniky'. Cool title anyway, right?


"Monuments - Memories" - is that right? ;-)
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dagmaraka
 
  1  
Reply Tue 18 Mar, 2003 07:38 pm
I am impressed! It is related to that, it is a word game, however. It could be translated as, well, as 'Memorials and forgetlings' (or whatnot). Zapomniky comes from 'zapomenout' - to forget.
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quinn1
 
  1  
Reply Tue 25 Mar, 2003 02:29 pm
SP...all I can say is WOW
Glad to have ya back and thank you for sharing your adventures.

The statues look interesting but, yes I have not stared upon them forever and a day myself..I can understand that.

did someone say dumplings??? hummmm....
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dagmaraka
 
  1  
Reply Tue 25 Mar, 2003 02:32 pm
sheeesh, i'm hungry. got to make some halaszle stat! does that ring a bell, SP?
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quinn1
 
  1  
Reply Tue 25 Mar, 2003 03:34 pm
Im sure its wonderful Smile

Okay, perhaps not but...Im hungry too, so my imagination runs wild
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