Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Shani, and all her bits and pieces

My friend Shani came to visit from London this past weekend. Shani and I were flatmates in San Lorenzo in Roma a little over a year ago, and we became instant friends. The advertising agency she works for in London organized a trip to Budapest for their employees, but she only had to have dinner with them on Saturday night, and the rest of the time she was with me. She came very late on Thursday night, and gave me the sweetest birthday card and a beautiful yoga book by Kathy Phillips. (Shani is the one who got me started doing yoga).

On Friday we met two of her Sydney friends who just happened to be in Budapest as well. Shani is Australian, though she has lived in London for the past five years. I learned some fun Australian speak, like up the duff, which means pregnant. We had a makos kifli, a poppyseed pastry, at the Gerbeaud cukrazda, which Shani kept pronouncing like "gerbil."

Then we did a little shopping along Vaci, and Shani and I went to the Gellert to have a bath. It was very relaxing of course, and for dinner we went to my favorite, Cafe Kor, where we shared a bottle of bubbly. We had fantastic conversation, as we always do. Shani is an amazingly good friend. With her friends, those that she has chosen, she is completely without envy and truly dedicated to their happiness.

On Saturday, we met David, her Australian friend, at what Shani insists on describing as "a bit of a brothel." It was a Thai massage place, and Shani and I asked for Thai oil massages while David got a foot massage. Shani and I were ushered into a sort of indoor tent with mattresses on the floor, and Shani pulled back the curtain between us even though she knows I'm weird about nakedness with non-lovers. We had to get full-on buck-naked (all your bits and pieces, love), without anything to go over us, and then two Thai sisters came in and straddled us. Quite an experience to have a strange Thai woman sitting on top of you rubbing your ass with oil. But not bad.

While Shani was at her work dinner, I went with M.N. (the Swiss) to a restaurant on the Buda side called Matteo. There was a piano player. But like not in a good way. And the place was empty. And the waiters were hovercrafting. And my pasta was so-not-al dente. Al dente is on the Pest side, and this pasta was on the Buda side. The only things that were nice were the big globe red wine glasses and the company. It had seemed so promising: in a converted Bauhaus bus station, cool columnar lighting, nice terrace,...

Shani called and told us to meet her at Negro, which is on the same piazza with the basilica. We took a taxi there, and it was packed. M.N. and I split up at the bar to see who could make contact with a bartender first. Not my crowd. All tourists. But I didn't mind because I was so happy to be there with M.N. and Shani.

The next morning I made Shani my leek, tomato, and feta frittata. It is the perfect food. Why don't people cook more with leeks? It's a gorgeous vegetable, packed with flavor and aroma. We sat around and ate and chatted until Zsolti called and asked if we could meet him. We met him at the Liszt Ferenc terrace, and had a drink at Cafe Vian. I realized at that point I was painfully exhausted. We hadn't gotten much sleep Friday or Saturday night. Shani doesn't require sleep. I apologized to Zsolti, told him I had to go, but he told me that he brought me some vegetables from his father's garden. We walked to his car, and he gave me two huge bags: one with grapes from his garden and the second with beautiful red tomatoes and green paprikas from his father. What could be more special than someone bringing you fruits and vegetables from his garden? I've put them to good use: just made a beautiful lecso with the tomatoes and paprikas. Don't know if I will be able to bear going back to those pink softballs in America after tasting these red beauties.

Miss Shani very much. I have to fly through London on my way back to America on the 28th, so I will check into leaving Budapest a couple days early so I can stay with her in Notting Hill.


At 6:44 AM, Blogger andrew s.yang said...

and happy birthday! it's assumed you didn't light your flat on fire to Bartok, right?
it could have happened, as so many things. but didn't. things can conspire to go well.

it's also true, leeks are highly under-rated.

At 7:21 PM, Blogger Irma Vep said...


Aren't you a darling for revisiting my blog?!

Thank you for your birthday wishes: all went swimmingly, thank you, no conflagrations to the tune of Bartok or any other composer. Had a proper birthday with cake, friends, and bubbly.

Please don't be a stranger.

At 3:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.


Post a Comment

<< Home