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euskara {basque}
magyar {hungarian}
nederlands/vlaams {dutch}

other links : i ii iii

Can you translate the next 300 words into Hindi, or Korean?; if so, please contact me and there will be rejoicing.

August 31st; Day with Ilan, including a visit to Isabel where I return her umbrella, and Ilan photographs everybody in her office, and an audition for a Malev voiceover. Ilan & I dine at a Greek restaurant where the owner's son is driving toy lorries around one of the tabletops. Then play badminton with Liia, after which we join Pierre-Guillaume & Pauline.
August 30th; Ice cream with Peter. Forget my keys.

August 29th; With Mariann to Foreign-Language Library during the day, where we bump into Sandor, happily studying guidebooks to Norway. Evening mineral water with Isabel & Politics Judit. Afterwards salad & white wine with Terri.
August 28th; Catarrh still. Accompany Robin to house meeting, followed by drink with Zeno & Istvan.

August 27th; Bump into Linda again, this time carrying a cage with a kitten inside. Alert reader Terri tells me she once had a very bad champagne hangover. Mid-afternoon stroll over to a vegetarian fair at Almassy square where Keri told me she is show compere the whole weekend. Pressing through a crowded hall of stalls selling homemade cakes, massage machines, and books blending Hungarian nationalism & Oriental meditation, I find a darkened theatre packed with people listening to music. Shuffle my way to the front just as a round, sad-looking man is finishing a guitar piece. Keri with her microphone comes on stage and thanks him, describing him as 'professor' somebody. She apologises to the audience for the programme running late. As the professor packs up, some small fat people in bulging yellow tee-shirts labelled 'Yoga in Everyday Life' shout abuse. "You should be ashamed of yourself, idiot", one Hungarian follower of the path of detachment snarls at him from feet away. The yellow-shirted ones stomp crossly onto stage to set up their instruments. It's clear Keri will be too busy to chat to me.
August 26th; Get plenty of sleep. Wake around lunchtime, and examine clothes on floor. One pocket contains a bread roll from Sam's flat, and another a packet of Eve cigarettes, I think from Anna. Though the catarrh continues, I have no hangover. Emma Thompson's anecdote about Kenneth Williams telling her as a child that champagne hangovers are the worst has long puzzled me, since it is easily testable and pretty obviously untrue even without testing. Why would Williams say something so evidently daft? Why would Thompson repeat it? Is it just a weak way to boast about drinking lots of champagne? Look a little at Spanish and Arabic wordlists, blow my nose a lot, and wander around in the sunshine. Up at Oktogon, find the Parade is in progress. A trailer with an orange theme slowly crawls past covered in dancing girls dressed in orange throwing us orange balloons. In the crowds spot several groups of deaf people having hand-signal conversations, presumably enjoying the gut-vibrating bass line. Return to riverside district. Bump into two people I have not seen for a year or more. Rex back from Cyprus, and later Linda, back from the shops with some eggs.

August 25th; Lots of sleep and rest. Get to Sam's flat at half past ten in the evening, for a night of driving around Budapest with Scott & Sam, drinking champagne in a stretch limousine. These vehicles move with a strange smoothness through traffic. Probably a combination of the psychological effect of smoked-glass windows and the physical effect of a long chassis cutting out road bumps. On Scott's instructions, I am again wearing his black leather trousers so that I can be Detlef, the art-movie director. Filming inside a limousine seems tricky for Sam & Harlon, especially since Scott has helpfully stocked the vehicle with Kerstin (looking leggy in black miniskirt and shoes with those straps that go up the calves), Keri (in a remarkable Magyar Mystic Meg outfit of hippy wraps and silver jingly things), Rita (flowing orange outfit with orange turban), and Anna from Malaysia adding some Oriental charm. At Scott's instigation, we hold a seance inside the limo led by Keri, (no bee intervenes this time), and he also commands three of the lovelies to caress me adoringly on film. We visit Iguana, where Kerstin buys me an Unicum, and later on dance for Sam's camera at E-Klub, where Rita makes me drink a tequila. Enjoyable evening.
August 24th; Quiet trip back to Budapest by train, with headcold still firmly entrenched in my sinuses, making it hard for me to read. Two fat Hungarians with child are at the next table in the dining car. At the end of the trip, the fat male taps me on the shoulder and grinningly gives me his bill to pay. The waitress smirks and the two fatties chuckle while I examine the bill and say it isn't mine. Standard example of Hungarian humour: random cheekiness against easy target. As he gets off the train, he reassures me that I shouldn't worry because he paid the bill "for me".

August 23rd; Still snuffling & coughing. Much of day in bed. Late afternoon, Kopany visits Robin with his two twin daughters. Before they cycle home at night we stand in the garden looking for constellations we can name.
August 22nd; Head cold worse. Mope around a bit. We visit the honeymakers, who give me a herbal remedy that seems to be made of grass. Last thing, Robin shows me how to make the ginger & lemon tea that Constantine swears by.

August 21st; Wake up with sore throat. Kasper's birthday party. Conjuror Tamas arrives, at Robin's last time for Letty's birthday almost four years ago. This time in the ping-pong-table room, with some very impressive rope tricks. He joins us later in the garden for chocolate cake, and does some close-up coin tricks while in a short-sleeved shirt. All surprisingly fun. Afterwards lots of running around, sprinting, wheelbarrow race, tug of war.
August 20th; Robin & I stroll to Sandor's nearby to pick up the motorbike from two nights ago. We sit with him for an hour in the shade drinking a couple of white wines with soda, and watch two of his mares pacing around in the hot sun: a 17-year-old chestnut & a 22-year-old white. I find I need to sleep after this. I wake up in the late afternoon because visitors have arrived. Eva brings over a delightful couple from the US, Ted & Beverly, and we all go swimming with Edina at the oxbow lake. We return to roast onions and chunks of bacon on a bonfire in the garden. Though slightly chilly, Robin & I stay out chatting late around the glowing disc of embers under a sky full of stars and a horizon rippling with silent lightning. This is probably when I catch my nasty cold.

August 19th; Art-cinema organiser Attila, a friend from Robin's London days, drops by with his wife Rita & 22-month-old daughter Greta for coffee in the garden. Afterwards Robin & I pop over to Tiszakurt to take Kadicsa home and explore the village fair. Tiszakurt turns out to be dark and crowded, but we enjoy the fireworks from the car. The fair at Tiszainoka is cosier, and we bump into Danillo again. Calling out the tombola numbers takes half an hour. Everyone cheers supportively when a chubby girl called Ancsa wins a prize a second time, but is a little surprised when she has to run out a third time to collect a prize. By the time she runs out for her eighth prize the cheers have turned to jeers.
August 18th; A morning in town hot enough to make it worth repeatedly crossing onto the shady side of the street. While buying a present for Kasper, bump into Terri, who bravely asks the shop assistant if we can take the cellophane off the book to look inside. Since the girl has just done her nails she delegates this job to Terri. I quickly drop in on the Cervantes Institute. Crowded train from Budapest to Kecskemet. Robin meets me with Zsuzsi & Kasper. Later Robin & I visit a party in the village. We get there at around 11pm. 5 or 6 thin, grey-haired people are twitching and swaying in front of a head-piercing wall of sound produced by some tubby, balding electric guitarists. We slowly gather that everyone has downed a lot of alcohol. Sandor, our host who keeps horses there, welcomes us, and a lively geophysicist with spectacles is attracted to me the way a compass needle is attracted to lodestone. I spend the next hour dodging his embrace. A bowl of beautifully-baked light, fluffy savoury pastries appears, I find and eat a pair of two-inch-long marzipan ponies, and Robin is offered a grappa from a jovial Italian called Danillo who also keeps horses and has lived in the Hungarian countryside for years. Inside we meet Bela, a dignified white-haired man in a hat who apparently did a prison sentence for a friend. The police come at half past midnight to ask us to switch off the painfully loud amplifiers. No-one warns you about this when moving abroad. You form the decision to leave your home country at some point when a raucous party is singing along to a Stiff Little Fingers song or a football anthem, gloriously offkey, only to discover that every country has its own dire music in spades. This evening's Hungarian rock favourites from the late 70s and early 80s all combine clever Magyar lyrics with crass guitar licks hovering in a dark hinterland somewhere between Slade and Kiss. Once quiet begins, a snoring figure on a makeshift bed, near the drinks table we are standing at, suddenly awakens and challenges Robin to knock back a second generous measure of grappa in one gulp. When I ask him what he does in Budapest, the pear-shaped rebel says in English "I live", adding for defiant clarification that this breaks down into eating, playing guitar and "fucking womans". While Robin's eyes water visibly, the sleeper awoken seems unaffected by the grappa. He waddles outside and starts a quite convincing and thankfully quiet version of "I want to be a rock and roll star" on an acoustic guitar, accompanied by another man on tambourine. Robin & I leave, minus the Izh motorbike, at around one, turning down the chance to walk to another village to attend another party: probably one of those events that seem to hold hope only if you are in a group of very drunk men at 1 in the morning.

August 17th; Morning meeting with Judit, where I try tiramisu-flavoured tea. Bit odd. Later, eat with Tim on Raday street. Tim shows me one of his children's new British passports with an embedded chip. Ilan drops by, then Mariann joins us, then Mr Saracco. He & Tim pour gin down Mariann, while the two men resume an argument about whether real pumps are like this or like this. After this, go with Phil & her to find that the Foreign-Language Library is still closed.
August 16th; Georgina drives Robin, Kasper and me back to Budapest to shop for taps. Later we meet Victoria, who is writing a screenplay for a historical drama. Evening dinner with Hannah & Marion, talking about democracy.

August 15th; Long day learning about freight shipping.
August 14th; In the evening, Robin & I find Zsuzsi on the sofa, her hair wrapped up in a post-bath yellow-towel turban, entranced by a film on television. I realise it is 'Gone With The Wind', and watch a scene where lots of women in bell-shaped skirts nimbly scamper down corridors. I detect lightweight 20th-century fabrics. Try to imagine breaking into a run under the weight of a floor-length brocaded linen frock while breathing within a tight whalebone corset. Of course, fear is a great motivator.

August 13th; Take mid-afternoon train to the countryside. The little train from Kecskemet is another of the modern air-conditioned ones just into service. One or two older country people sit in thoughtful quiet at intervals down the carriage, smelling faintly of urine. Reach Tiszaug at 6pm. Robin drives Georgina, the children & me to Cibakhaza, where we meet Car Dealer Csaba at the cake shop. Over ice cream served by the Egyptian goddess girl, Csaba explains to me in more detail the way he ended up paying lots of extra money for storage of imported cars at Rotterdam harbour. I promise to try to help. As we bid farewell to Csaba, Georgina sends me to look for Robin and the children who have all disappeared to the evening bakery to pick up loaves of warm bread. I walk 5 minutes down the road to fetch them. One side of the road is taken up by a graveyard with horse-chestnut trees, where a rich sunset stretches from one end of the sky to the other, bands of salmon-peach light on the horizon capped by a lid of lilac cloud.
August 12th; Early morning read a bit about Spanish grammar. Late morning sound comes through wall of a girl in next-door flat who seems to get it once a fortnight or so. She emits a distinctive series of rhythmic muffled whelps, a lot like those teddy bears which squeak when you thump them. Early evening bump into Sam at Castro's. Soon after, go with Constantine to Liia's mellow drinks party. A few days ago, Liia & I found that we live diagonally opposite each on the same street junction. Bryan & Mihaela are at the party, and on finding that Liia can pick up WiFi in her flat, they pop over to my stuffy little room to test my laptop's reception. If it is held out of my window, the laptop is on the Internet, Bryan learns. Probably it would also work on the balcony of George & Julia's room, which can be seen from Liia's balcony.

August 11th; Cover abortion debate for Hannah. Later meet Paul to discuss language teaching. Early evening, badminton at CEU gym with Liia, my first game for years.
August 10th; Morning decaff cappuccino with Peter to hear about technical-writing job. Later I find I've been sent this interesting video: some weaknesses, but worryingly reasonable in parts. Meet Mariann at the library to look for Arabic books. In the library cafe downstairs, she describes what sounds like a trying week in Montenegro. Take bus out to Erd to teach Sari. Back in town later meet Isabel at a cafe named after Spinoza. Language-learning & ambiguous Tarot readings.

August 9th; Robin and Kath see me onto my train at Lakitelek. Two short but nicely-timed rainstorms during the day mean I leave my washing still wet on the line in Robin's garden. Peter from the Asylum days rings me up on the train. In the evening, Terri makes wonderful salad for Liia & I, while I look briefly at her website.
By night and day I keep passing an acronym statement painted in four-inch-high white letters on the pavement just outside the Bajcsy Zsilinszky exit from the Deak ter metro. Its nine lines' first letters spell out the vertical word s-z-e-r-e-t-l-e-k, the Hungarian for "I love you". It appeared a couple of weeks ago and I noticed then that the lettering matches another pavement declaration about thirty yards on, just outside a doorway. This second has been repainted once, and is dated to 6th August 2004, just over two years ago. The older one says in large, six-inch white letters, "I will love you for ever, Kittenmouth". He makes her sound striking, and helpfully shows the rest of us where she lives.
August 8th; Kath arrives from Budapest. We pick her up at Tiszaug and drive to the bakery again for hot bread. On the way, I suggest we improvise a Ouija board with scrabble tiles and try to communicate with some spirits in the evening. Kath and Robin demur politely. I suggest we are in no danger as long as we have a Bible to hand and remain reasonably resolute. At this second I feel a stabbing needle-like pain under my right eye. Grabbing at my face with a cupped hand, I find some kind of insect there. Flung onto the armrest, it turns out to be a confused-looking bee that blew in through my window and must have hit my face at some speed. Although there was an injection of poison which hurts for another few minutes, it seems it did not leave its sting in me, and Kath kills it. After picking up a freshly-baked loaf, we stop off for ice creams at Tiszakurt. After dark, Edina & Geza come over to take Kadicsa home. Geza describes the nervousness of lorry-driving instructors in Hungary. Edina corrects my Arabic homework.

August 7th; Outing with Georgina to Kunszentmarton to print out two pages of text and post them. Surprisingly difficult. After overcoming other hurdles we even find a postbox with a slot too small for the envelope. Finally, success. In the cafe she drinks a cappuccino while I eat an excellent pineapple, pear, and orange-yoghourt flavoured ice cream.
August 6th; At 4.30am am suddenly woken in the library by loud thrumming of wings beating against glass. Put light on, thinking a bird is caught between the two window panes, but instead find a fat rust-coloured moth desperately trying to escape from inside the glass case of mounted butterflies just by my head. With an almost three-inch wingspan it looks as if a specimen has come alive. Like a wind-up toy aeroplane, it is frantically careering from side to side under the glass, breaking wings and body parts off the deader lepidoptera. I carry the horridly vibrating case through the sitting room, past Constantine sleeping on the sofa, and put it in the room beyond. Place the buzzing box on the map table there, still wondering if one of the things somehow returned to life. Unsettled by childhood horror of moths & memories of a nasty sci-fi story about butterflies on pins, I go back to sleep among the books.
At breakfast, Robin explains he put the moth in the case several days ago, thinking it was dead, so entombing it alive like a Poe character. Constantine has already gone back to town on the early bus. We drive Terri out to the Tiszaug signalmen's hut to catch her mid-afternoon train to Budapest. We sit in the car on a patch of scrubland in the rain for ten minutes before the two-carriage train chugs into view on time. A fully uniformed stationmaster marches out, waving his coloured disc on a stick. As Terri clambers up with her bags, the train driver asks us all how old Robin's Benz is.

August 5th; Quiet, cloudy day. Constantine cooks up a lovely lunch of meat sauce with black olives. Georgina drives us to a neighbouring village, and she, Terri, & I have cakes at the patisserie where the Egyptian-goddess serving blonde works. Her eyeliner extends out a whole inch at each temple now.
August 4th; Terri & I go down by train to Robin's. On the train I read her Tarot twice. Both times she gets The Sun and The Empress cards. In Tiszakurt we drink wine & soda outside a bar, waiting for Constantine on his bus. On route to the house we pick up some warm loaves of bread from an evening bakery staffed by two amiable village girls.

August 3rd; Visit Hannah & Marion in the morning, and hear about cellar flooding and fallen trees. Scott kindly gives me some of his clothes in the mid-afternoon. In the evening, Isabel encouragingly lends me a book to read. We try several herbal teas.
August 2nd; Weather cools. Interesting theologian et al.

August 1st; Dinner with Mihaela & Bryan. Thunderstorm.


Mark Griffith, site administrator / contact@otherlanguages.org

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