Thursday, August 05, 2004

Dilettante

I'm not sure about this blogging thing. I'm not certain my life here in Budapest is any more interesting than anybody else's. I think we've all heard enough amusing expat anecdotes. No one needs any more from me.

But maybe it will help me to feel closer and vice versa to my many wonderful friends all around the world. My friends are so nice they'll probably read this solipsistic bloggy stuff. I would read their solipsistic bloggy stuff so I guess it's all right.

I am almost two months into my new life in Budapest. I live on the Pest side near the Parliament. It's an expensive neighborhood, embassies and government buildings, that sort of thing, but I find it a tad dull in comparison to some of the more lively districts. What am I doing here? I don't know exactly. I just knew I had to leave Savannah (Georgia). It didn't feel like a whim-- it felt as necessary as breathing that I get to a big city. I am taking Hungarian language classes and I am working in little spurts in connection with the job I left in Savannah as a historic preservation consultant, but mostly I'm a dilettante, dabbling in my short stories and some other stuff.

At first I felt the burden of so much time on my hands. Unused to being adrift without the anchor of regular employment, I went through feeling guilty, bored, lonely, and doubtful. But that didn't last long. I soon discovered that European cafe life is a perfectly charming existence. That you could spend a lifetime sampling different cocktails. That the Eckermann has the most wonderful bowls of milchkaffee with chocolate flowers drawn in the foam. That bowl alone can represent two hours of my day.

Budapest has so much to see and do. You really can't be bored unless you are boring yourself. There are concerts, operas, film, and dance performances. Several pedestrian zones make Budapest very cafe and people-friendly. If you want to go for a run or a walk, there is Margaret Island. It's in the middle of the Danube, situated between the Buda and the Pest side. A rubbery track for runners circles the perimeter, and in the center are flower gardens and fountains. You can see sea turtles sunning themselves amidst the lily pads and lotus flowers in one of the ponds. There's a little zoo with fowl and ponies and deer. You can also see humans in their natural form, sunning themselves on the banks of the island. And there are the more dodgy elements of urban life represented on the island as well: yesterday I saw a man urinating just a couple meters from the track, and some big silver "Fuck You Gipsy"(sic) graffiti effaces a metal gate.

It's a complex and beautiful and dirty place, Budapest. I hope I make the best of her.






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