Monday, February 14, 2005

Bilious Budapest

My incontinent love for this city (my boyfriend)(Happy Valentine's Day BP!) should be balanced with a little bile. Love without registered antipathy means nothing, if you subscribe to the Unity of Opposites, which I do. (I get it weekly). I would like to direct my bile at the panicked notion that my neighborhood is going to the dogs. I don't mean that Pulis and Komondors have taken over. No, I mean that there are an increasing number of irritants within a 100 meter radius of my flat.

So, Irritant number 1: I came back from the States in December to find that my corner store had turned into a store selling musical instruments. Now, it's true that the corner store sold milk that was bad before I bought it. The tampons were kept in a cabinet like precious jewels, and then the boxes were dusty. The clerks were surly and stingy with the plastic bags. But it was my corner store. I loved it, though I hated it. What am I to do with a musical instrument store? I can't very well pour a drum set on my cereal, now can I? A flute won't do me much good when I run out of 'pons, now will it? Unfortunately, my corner store is just one of the most recent casualties in a well-established trend. The corner stores in Budapest are disappearing. (Site of my former wretched corner store-turned-useless-musical-instrument-store below).

Irritant number 2: the accursed "Becketts." I know what you're thinking-- any place named for the acclaimed playwright couldn't be that stinky. Well, you're dead wrong, my friend, and you just might be dead with pilsner shrapnel in your head if you chance to go to this fatneck establishment. (Wait-a-second--actually, there are tons of fatneck or white cap-fraternity bars named for great writers! A James Joyce Pub in Ybor City, a Sloppy Joe's in Key West, FL that slaps Old Hem's image all over its Hard Rock-inspired merch. Hideous. Why don't they just go and make wall calendars and refrigerator magnets from the great Impressionists' paintings! Oh wait, they've done that already. Che bastardi.)

Becketts is on the corner of my street, one building over. It was Bp's first large-scale expat hangout. I have to pass it every day. Inside, it's actually pretty attractive. Dark wood panelling, intimate lighting scheme, spacious, et cetera. But I have several times come home to see ambulances parked outside because some Brits got in a row over a bloody football match (Becketts has UK cable) and started throwing beer glasses at one another. I don't understand this behavior, and I don't really care to either. Just keep out of my way, crazy footballers.

Irritant number 3: On the ground level of my building, there used to be an Indian tandoori restaurant. Little hole in the wall. Delicious food. The owners were my friends. Or at least neighborhood acquaintances. If I wasn't actually eating there, I would stop by occasionally for some tea and chat with Vajji (sp?), who, to be sure, said some abominable things about wanting to join the Indian army to kill Pakistanis, but we did have some less-offensive conversations as well. The guys gave me the biggest smiles whenever I passed by. I loved their oven. I loved their chana masala. They were "my guys." It was "my Indian place." But I came back from the United States to find that it closed up, and then recently, a banner appeared, reading: "Hamarosan Nyitunk! Pastamia Gyors-Etterem," which means, "Before long we are opening! Pastamia Fast-Restaurant." Just look at that flimsy cheap banner smothering MY quaint little tandoori sign. Sigh.


At 12:45 AM, Blogger RichardKS said...

Happy Valentine you mysterious Balkan beauty.


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