Friday, June 29, 2007

Viragnap (an Esther's eye view).

We took the train at 10:10 and it went choo:choo or something like that and we were off. Kalman was the guide, but a nervous one at that and Paula had to fake a panic attack to get him to stop looking at his watch and repeating “better get on the train now.”

Even though he prearranged it so he got 91 but we got 35, 34, and 31 and in the end he gave up and stole a seat so he could fit in next us, so much for all those earlier premonitions he had. The woman whose number he stole was a dumpy, gentle old woman in a countryside dress and a hat. She had a look of eldery disaproval about her but was quite nice when likewise hatted Kalman asked to switch with her. The numbers, not the hats.

We did manage to make it safe and sound to Szombathely; no one assaulted us and we did not fall asleep at our stop. By that time we had all drifted off once, eaten pastries, drunk beer, met Fefe and Meme and some young cousins or JaJo groupies or such who actually had been sitting in the same section as us the whole time. Everyone had portfolio cases. Except us. We had bananas. They were firm and yellow and one went ring, ring in Paula's hand and went up Kalman's ear and I won't even meantion what happened to it by the time it reached Wayne. I had one that went beep,beep. Then I replied.

Everyone spoke Hungarian, except for us, too. Wayne could say the most and did a bit but he is shy so no one knew that really, he can speak, Paula has an excuse, she just moved here. I have none. I am as shameless as my banana without it's peel and as shameless as the way I eat my banana when in the company of friends.

Though we were quite hungary on arrival, as we hadn't time to eat, we could only manage a toasted ham and cheese sandwhich, a pint of Deher, and a iced coffee with ice cream at the Art Cafe. We didn't even have time to manage the bill, as that disappeared through Fefe's fingers like a handkercheif in a magician's act.

Two men at the Art Cafe, one with a camera, sipped beers or coffees or something. Paula realised she knew the cameraman. But where from? Then a man who looked exactly like the JaJo statue in Szombathely's main square walked right by. He hohumed by and took up emmense amounts of attention from the man with the camera. We gawkd a bit and afterall could thank him for expanding our imaginations because then we saw the splitting image of Moses mosey by with a splitting image of Harry Potter followed by Black Adder carrying a Hungarian bagpipe. His friend with the Irish bagpipe and he would play for us at three. The Irish Ambassador referred to them lovingly as “the Pipers.” And said some lovely things, all lovingly. He looked hung-over.

I think we were patient, waiting, just waiting for the Mayor to finish so Kalman could start. The worst part I remember was “the Pipers” barely remaining at bay and a convention of bad, mean bikers reving their engines at 3:30. It boiled my blood. What a stupid mayor to have Bloomsday in Szombathely and pencil in a biker's rally for the very same day. What a very stupid mayor. I went over to the mass of bikes all reving and rearing, and shoo:shooed them away. Pointing to the square, I demanded 10 minutes more of silence. Me, in my black and white polka doted dress and with the black notpad. They looked at me, looked at my hand, and looked at my notepad. Someone took it as a sign that the parade was begining, got the bikes into formation and they all drove off. But other plots were in motion and some twat managed to slither up to Kalman in the meantime saying ...”could you get to the point?”

If James Joyce had of been asked to get to the point: Would we even have Bloomsday to celebrate? - This is what I wrote in the guest book at the gallery opening.

Then Wayne got a free hug and Paula didn't even stop him or try to get one herself. Why those girls were hanging around giving out hugs, I don't know. I guess it was in their blood and we can't blame them. Still, it's not like I was taught. I can't subscribe to this Hugnation. What will come next after virtual hugs and Kirk Cameroon bringing religion to the Internet? I just looked at them funny and turned away.

The mystery cameraman is from Dobogoko! That's what Paula says. He filmed Edit's friend Sabine Fazekas' – the French-Hungarian wood weaving nature artist - project at that very mystic mountain.

Now that we “knew” who he was, we stopped staring at him.

Kalman, Kalman, Kalman's Uncle Fefe everywhere. They move to open the exhibit. The prosession of participants; writers, artists, event tourists, wove down the back alleyways towards the gallery like a wedding party. Maybe I just say that because its June. Maybe it was like a wake. It was pretty, and ceremonial, and sacred all the same.

Fefe. Kalman. Hungarian, English, Hungarian, English...Yiddish? Dablin nr9. ???. Kalman's on film from last year in the corner. We drink wine and eat pogacsa.

Then, we turn around and meet Joszef. Blum himself? (Shalom!?) The first thing that strikes you is a barage of words in English...the desire to speak English, the desire to be amongst English-speakers and be loved...It is unbearable. He is unbearable. Not because we aren't any less pitiful in our lingustic and cultural vunerablitity. It's just that he is just that more vunerable. He speaks, but the voice me ssage is a recording he made hours ago, days ago, years ago. The intense need to explain...the Anglo-Hungarian club- now gone, the 40 years in Szombathely, the utter feeling of abandonment. A blue collar worker who reads the newspaper, but no (!) not James Joyce. No worries, mate, I didn't read Ulyesses either. But I can't say that because the recording won't let me. It won't stop and it can't respond to random questions. It only can say clearly what it has imprinted on itsfilm and has no interest in the current exhibit, save the crowd it attracts.

Outside, they were dancing in the streets and singing and dancing. ReJoycing? Two brides, on competing squares, were wed and wisked off. A boy on a unicycle tried his best to keep balance.

Finally, there was time to really eat. Everyone had salad.

Kalman checks his watch again. “Best get on the train,” he says. And it was time. When were were cosy in our seats he told us a story.

Here's the story of how Kalman became Tony:

1) Born in an ice cave
2) [missed this part, actually, everyone did]
3) Told Castro how to do it [run Cuba?]. But he botched up.
4) By Tony.

Leaving the city of the to-shiny gold crosses and bling-blingy streets sparkling and shining from their rennovation in the corner of our minds, we pass green fields with horses and windmills, blue skies wide with white clouds. A large pheasant struts along a grassy hill.

Shaul says their are only two words in Yiddish for bird, I say.

“That's Meshuganah Madness!” replies Paula.

I don't know what meshuganah means. I bet JaJo didn't know either.

I looked out the window and thought of the only James Joyce book I have ever read, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. It was eons before the gibberygib looked like proper words to me and I could read it through– like a three-d picture that I had to stare at long enough to see. No moo-cows, I thought, no moo-cows outside. Maybe I will try to read Ulysess when I get home.
Bloomsday Cartoon Number 2

(There follows Esther's account of the day in prose form.)

Bloomsday Cartoon Number 1

(...well, keep reading for what was happening "back in Budapest." You know if you don't show, you may end up in a cartoon. You were warned.)

Monday, June 18, 2007


A Writers' Group delegation visits Szombathely to celebrate another ex-Berlitz teacher, James Joyce, (do you also remember Steve Graning, Judith Finn, David Landry...?)

Of course a seat reservation was required:

As was the requirement to stay in continuous touch with the civilization that is Budapest Főváros:

There were some great speakers:

The cultural attaché of Szombathely, (right).

The Irish ambassador looking like he had a hangover.

Our very perky and frisky, well-prepared Kálmán.

Everyone then piled over to the gallery possibly run by local Iroqouis.

Speeches now by Kálmán AND his Uncle Fefe.

Then we had a PROPER lunch at 5pm as the speakers were a bit too distracted earlier on.

And Esther's froggies hung out on Joyce saying goodbye before we got the train home, writing cartoons* on our way, (*will be posted later!)