Europe according to Hungarians


I got this image emailed to me by a Hungarian friend of mine. I guess you have to know Hungary and Hungarians to fully understand how funny it is but it really displays that self-distance and irony that they can keep towards themself which is one of the things with the Hungarian mentality that I just love.



2010 – May you be better than 2009

New Year’s Eve Szilveszter (In Hungary the last day of the year is called Szilveszter, like the male name that, not so surprisingly, celebrates its name day 31st of December) came and passed. The year ended for me in a way that can describe 2009 in general; on the couch with my man recovering from a nasty stomach flu that kept me from eating anything that wasn’t in liquid form. Luckily Champagne Törley (Hungarian sparkling wine) is.

I guess I shouldn’t be too hard on 2009 though, it certainly had its moments too. But I’m excited to see what 2010 has to offer.
Something I haven’t thought about after my previous New Year’s here is the extreme need and urge for the Hungarian to say Boldog Új Évet (Happy New Year) first time you meet them after the New Year. At work it was so prominent (“before you say anything  I just want to say Boldog Új Évet”) that I just have to assume that if I don’t say Happy New Year the first thing I do when I see someone I even remotely know I would be considered be extremly rude. 

To go home and leave it at the same time

I have for many years now stated (based upon my own and others experiences) that the hardest part of moving abroad is to come back. Whether it was planned or unexpected, getting back home never gets you back where you were before you left. You might not notice it while you in the middle of it but by living  somewhere else for a while changes you on a fundamental level. Home might have changed too, people might have changed, but mostly; your view of “home” and “people” is in someway suddenly not quite the same.

This week a dear friend and my only compatriot here in Budapest had to make a very hard decision in which I did my best to support her but tough decisions are painful either way they go.  She eventually got on a flight back “home” for a undefinite time, maybe forever. It of course triggered memories of the returns of my own that I’ve had in the past but also reflections on what would happen if I would be forced – or choose for that matter- to return one day?  I already know I have changed but I can not know to which extent until it get measured against everyday life back where I was born. I made my choice to move away a long time ago and in the process, intentionally as well as unintentionally, a lot of strings were cut. And maybe, for each little leap time takes, strings weaken, bonds fade and places changes into unrecognition. But it’s a choice I made and maybe it is also the way that washes the gold from the sand. What’s left is pure. Christmas is coming up and I hope it’s not too late for me to re-strengthen some of my bonds back home home. Allthough my real home is here now I’m curious on how I will look upon my years of relocating once I get a bit older (and hopefully wiser). Will I ever stop changing and will the places I’ve been to always keep as strong impressions in my heart as they have now?  

“Maybe our mistakes are what makes our fate. Without them, what would shape our lives? Perhaps if we never veered off course, we wouldn’t fall in love, or have babies, or be who we are. After all, seasons change. So do cities. People come into your life, and people go. But it’s comforting to know the ones you love are always in your heart. And if you’re very lucky, a plane ride away.”

Probably the best quote that has ever come out from an American TV-serie on this subject.

Lesson 1: To go shopping

I have come to realize that I’m not completely at ease with the Hungarian way of packing your groceries. You see, there is no real place for collecting them once the cashier scanned them. The only space left for the cashier to place your groceries on is a tiny platform barely big enough to hold a few peppers and a bottle of Pálinka. But, after numerous times of incorrectly packing my bags “the Swedish way” and therefore holding up the whole cue I realized there is a system. In most of the smaller to midsized shops, you will first unpack all your things from your basket only to quickly throw them all down into another basket as soon as the cashier scanned them. After that you take your things, and your plastic bag that you hopefully remembered to ask for (that is; if you you for once remembered how to say “bag” in Hungarian), to a small “packing station” where you can calmly pack all your things into the bag. If I’d only known his from the beginning! However, just because I figured out how that system works, it doesn’t mean that my troubles were over. You see, in the supermarket there is a completely different system. The platform at the end of the cash is slightly bigger but no matter how much you look for one; here you won’t find any packing station. Instead you’ll have to pack your things as quickly as you can before they start piling up (which they are most likely to do, if you go to the supermarket, it is usually for your weekly shopping which means – lots of stuff). Sooner or later you’ll find yourself with two things in each hand and nowhere to put them and the cashier will resolutely start filling your bags for being able to continue to scan the rest of the things. Being from the north where things have a tendency to move slowly, I find the whole situation rather stressful, I don’t want the cashier to feel like she has to do my part of the job just so she can complete her. And, imagine if she wouldn’t pack te things my way?  Maybe she will squeeze the eggs?! The Hungarians on the contrary seem all to be satisfied with this system and not at all bothered. What is it that I’ve missed? Are they all packing experts or is there a system within the system that I yet have to discover? I guess I will have to continue to do what I always do when shopping; intensively stare at the person in front of me to see (and one day hopefully figure out) how they succeed to complete this in my eyes highly complicated procedure. I might look really stupid but I guess someone should fulfill the stereotype of the weird foreigner, so in the supermarket, why not just let it be me?