27 January 2009

The Pest on me

Budapest could kill you, and it's a small wonder I can still stand. Too much sadness, too much history, too much grey, so much joy over being Jewish and with my fellows Jews, so overwhelming to have this much responsibility, such delight in everything we've accomplished, so much belonging, such pleasure in being with so many intelligent people, God how I love intelligent people!, so exhilerating and knackering to speak 6 languages on any given day.

The languages, oh God I was in heaven, we lot really are a bunch of polyglots, and I cannot even begin to describe to you the sheer joy of being in a room where everyone is pretty much switching back and forth all the time, so much so that brain freeze is common and you speak German to the French lady who only speaks English, French and Spanish, or you'll open your mouth and nothing comes out bcs your brain cannot decide upon one particular language, and at the end of the day you always end up saying Erev Tov to the perplexed reception people. Hebrew, I heard Hebrew, I spoke Hebrew, I basked and glowed in it and I wanted to take them all home with me, my Hebrew speakers and tell them Speak now, soothe my soul, talk amongst yourselves, talk to me, make me not be a perfectionist and shy abt making mistakes, help me learn, bring me home. I hear Hebrew long enough and it brings me to tears, it tugs and pulls at the very core of me and nothing, no other sound in the world, compares to it, and even though I often listen to Israeli music on repeat [listen this one, which has to be one of the sexiest songs ever written - google the lyrics] always forget what an impact it has on me, how much I miss it, how much home is shaped through lips and moving air.

Budapest was a surreal experience on many levels, but one of the highlights was a conversation I mostly had almost had had with one of the organisers of the trip. They were all very young, early 20's, I'd say, and mostly the alternative sort. They rebuilt a 3-storey building that is now a café cum conference room cum art gallery, and it was like being transported to the Lefties' quartier in Lisbon - which, quite frankly, is Not My Thing at all. Must be an Iberian thing bcs the bloke from Madrid was a bit horrified himself, but our hosts were so happy we were there we didn't have the heart to say anything and just smiled, loads. I had an out of body experience when one of the girls asked me if I liked the place and I said I was very impressed with what they'd accomplished [true], and she said she knew I was going to love it when I'd fearfully asked whether they played klezmer music there [BLECH!], she'd just known I loved the alternative scene as well. Yey! So I'm sitting there drinking my coke + red wine combo (I badly needed some alcohol, yes) and this bloke from their group starts talking to me. I'd met him the day before during the service and I was completely swallowed by cognitive dissonance because he dressed like your average lef-wing militant but his hair and beard and prayer/singing concentration (kavanah) were straight out of a Hasidic Textbook. So Hasid Bloke sits next to me and he was actually very nice and dying to bond but he sadly didn't speak any English really, or Hebrew, which is why the conversation we held in said languages was a trip, an absolute on acid trip. And you know it is a sad day when I'm the one helpfully providing Hebrew nouns and verbs, yes? When he got up to get more beer I asked someone from our group how he'd managed to understand HB, I'd seen them chatting bfr, and he said he hadn't, at all, he'd just smiled a lot and nodded and said Yes at regular intervals. As far as I can gather, we covered an amazingly extensive ground: we started with the Austro-Hungarian Empire, a rather easy subject to mime, something about tanks, I think, tall, big buildings figured as well, then we moved on to German history, which is fascinating bcs it's really bad and they're all mental but such military genius, there was some travelling story in between, I believe, maybe to Israel?, Israel was mentioned, then we discussed the Hapsburgs, always a fine mental picture to have, and finally how Hungary had defeated the Germans through stealing. Most perplexing - and a bit sad actually, it made me realise how fortunate I am that I have so many languages at my service, here was this bloke, so desperately trying to talk to us, and without the means to. Not that I didn't manage to make a fool of myself plenty, mind, and of course it had to be in Hebrew. I was chatting with an Israeli [70% of the people at the café were Jewish, I nearly laughed hysterically, 70%!!!, can you imagine??] and he asked what I did in Israel. This is and always has been my problem: a lot of Hebrew verbs are very similar, to the extent that a change in one letter gives you an entirely different verb. I always aim for to research but I invariably - INVARIABLY, which is a statistical impossibility but there you have it - open this confounded mouth of mine and new-agely announce that for 3 years I danced with dolphins. He was in stiches over it and then, compounded joy, another bloke who speaks Hebrew as well arrived just in time to join in the hilarity. I know it is funny but I wish I could stop doing it.

One thing that was quickly established by all was how quickly I get lost, everywhere. I'd gone for a walk [In the rain! Turns out the cold can actually be bearable if you keep walking and just came from a very warm place] with a member of the Spanish community after the kabbalat shabbat and he was able to show me around bcs, you know, it's enough to go sightseeing in the morning to immediately have your bearings and then you can easily be someone else's tour guide, and he kept asking in disbelief You really, REALLY, don't know where you are?? Same theme permeated the Saturday evening, at the café we met a Spaniard bloke who lives in Budapest and after a while I said I was going to pop round to the shop up sthe street for fags and he blurts out But ... Won't you get lost?? And I accusingly asked Oh you little Spaniard person, you've known me for all of 15 minutes, whom have you been chatting with? and he said Well, but won't you? Yes, yes, arrogant Spaniard sods, where was your competence when you tried to conquer us and failed, the plague on you, now shut up and go sharpen your crossbows already! I may have walked past the shop 3 times till I found it, and I may have walked past the café twice bfr I recognised it, but no, NO GET LOSTY. All I can say is, conversations like 'Johnny, where are you going?' 'Back to the hotel, aren't we?' 'Yes, but it's in the other direction!' age very fast.

Finally, let's tackle seduction. In Israel, kibbutzniks are not known for their flair and suave moves - or, at least, that was my female experience. Imagine my glee to have it validated by the bloke who lived in Israel, who was complaining that they had to talk abt their eyes and their hair blablabla, while kibbutzniks'd simply say Rotzah lishtot kafe baheder sheli? [Want to have coffee in my room?] [and, CHECK!] or, waving a pack of Malboros instead of the cheaper Noblesse or West, lean over and say You want Márrbôrrô? [CHECK!], and off they'd go with their prey. Why am I bringing this up? Well, to my utter surprise I was a humungous hit with Hungarian men. Honestly, I don't think I have ever been this ogled before - and they're not shy abt it either, oh no! They put kibbutzniks to shame. They'll look at your face, then your boobs, then even move around so as to better peruse your bum, all very leisurely at that, no worries. Not only do they see you, they feel you - and this isn't one of those emoting Anglo things, they quite literally cup a feel. Several. The girl who thought I was alternative dragged 4 of us to a club where they were playing live Gypsy music - well, technically she only dragged the Madrid Spaniard and I (the resident one and the Israeli went very willingly), who were again horrified, this time at the prospect of having to listen to Djobi, Djoba, cada dia yo te quiero más in a Budapest club of all places, and even more horrified when we got there bcs what did we find? Poppified Klezmer music! BLOODY KLEZMER MUSIC! The Hungarians had all fully lost the plot and were jumping up and down and generally contorting themselves like there was no tomorrow but we just couldn't believe it and actually longed - ached, I tell you - for The Gypsy Kings after all. But my convoluted point is, my bum was more groped and pinched and feather-fondled in those 2 hours than in the last decade combined, I was in shock, what the bloody hell?? And then the men and their hands would vanish so it wasn't even a misguided comehither move, it was a declaration of intentions, See my intense, dark Magyar eyes and the magic that my hands weave, you walking Portie sex feast, I could have you but I see you're having a bit of a cultural shock right now so I'll defer my droit du seigneur [as it were], for now. Foreplay, really.

And speaking of which, Manuela and I chatted yesterday and she is going to send me a Fashion care package bcs I asked for some more of the hair clips I found in Canada - shaped an igloo, very cute and more effective than most at keeping my mane in place. But then she thought she'd embellish it, gosh, shipping only hair thingies?, so utterly dull!, *waves hand dismissively* Therefore, I'll soon be the proud owner of a bunch of highly lubricating KY Intrigue gell bottles, which she's just discovered, bcs we couldn't possibly have this. So I'm abt to receive what amounts to a Vagion care package, really. Oh, the pressure.

10 furballs:

Kristin said...

It sounds like a fascinating trip to say the least.

JoeinVegas said...

Maybe I could start that feeling tradition here. Not sure, but it would probably bring a lot of slaps, but if European girls are used to it . . .

Nancy said...

humm

where exactly did you say you needed the clips??

I'm glad you had a good time.

Nancy said...

Uhmm the reason I asked about where you'd put the clips, is that... well..

an igloo on your head is one thing. Anywhere else, might be sending mixed messages.

Dexter Colt said...

Judging by the manic pace of this post I gather you had an amazing time. To hear you tell it makes it seem like this was the only place to be! I had no idea there was so much fun in Budapest.

Lioness said...

Kristin, It was unbelievable in many ways, not the least of it the way the Budapest youth has managed to put together an impressive amount of activities and people network. But God, was I happy to come back, Budapest is heavy, I tell you, and not my cup of tea as a city. Eh, the whole of Eastern Europe really, it's just not...

Joe, how did I manage to convey the surprising notion that European girls used to it? Proceed at your own peril!

Nancy!! Good grief! I think I'll be laughing over your comments for quite a long while, unexpected as they were! HAIR clips, proper hair clips, is all!

Dexter Colt, from the manic pace you should gather that I am not sleeping much, remember my insomnia posts? This was similar. I must be more tired than I realised, bcs I certainly wouldn't want anyone to think that Budapest is the place to be, ever. Budapest was surreal and funny bcs it was surreal and exasperating, and important organisation-wise, but honestly? I sort of hope I never have to set foot there again, really, and I am not the only one either feeling this way by the end of the trip. Too heavy, too sad, too dull really...

Udge said...

I'm sorry to say that I shared Dexter's misapprehension, I too thought you'd loved it apart from the groping. Ah well.

A fine post in any case.

Lioness said...

Udge, I loved being there with all those people, just not the city itself. By the end of it a lot of us'd had enough and were very glad to go back home. I am probably high on lack of sleep - or higher than I though anyway. Eh.

greenduckiesgirl said...

My goodness, it sounds like it was a full trip at the very least.

Lioness said...

Udge, I did love being there with everyone, but in Budapest's defence, I only saw the Pest part - I'm told by everyone that Buda is the really pretty one. Probably like coming to visit Lisbon and only seeing Martim Moniz? No, that'd be worse. eh, am talking to myself now.

Dana, oh that it was, yes it was!