Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Buda Castle


An American strapped down by camera straps and geared up with sensible shoes and windbreaker, points to the Matyas Templon (the St. Matthew's Church) and asks a passing Hungarian, "Is this the castle?"

The Castle is not a castle. It is a castle region. There are walls. There are many building inside these walls. The church has a spire and looks Gothic enough. But the castle is not one building. It is more than one place at once.

We live just below the castle in a residence established for scholars who are fellows of the Collegium Budapest, which is in the castle. There are about 100,000,003 steps between our apartment door and the Collegium. Luckily the Ruszurm Cafe is next door to the Collegium for a quick cake and espresso to recover from all those stairs.

Last night we were the guests of the Collegium for a special wine dinner. 2 starters, 1 main course, 2 desserts and 8 wines. I tasted each of the wines. Which was the best? Always the previous one, of course!

Yesterday I was going to do so many things, but then: I slept till noon, sweet J. it was a kind of heaven with the birds in the courtyard and no alarm clocks, no place to go, nothing I had to do. Then it was reading/writing till 4. A cake at the Ruszurm and off to the Pest side of Budapest to find our theater tickets for tonight. I had time on my hands before dinner and so I stopped at the Promod on Vaci street and bought some sweaters--very chic--to combat the spring chill. It is one of my favorite chain stores (French, I think). Today I do hope to hit some of the tiny boutiques with Hungarian designers.

I wore one of my new sweaters to dinner. There I learned among other things that growing up in Hungary as a little boy after WW II created a postmodern sense of displacement very different from the sense of homelessness I know from the culture of the States. In the States (beware huge generalization) there is a lack of connection, a restlessness, that drives people to move and reroot themselves over and over, looking for that intangible sense of "home." But if you grew up in a country that took turns accepting and then exiling you, your sense of restlessness and at-home-ness (or lack thereof) is a direct product of your home. In any case, both can produce a person who feels more at home in a foreign land. Or is this the result of culture consciousness? Once you KNOW the formula: sour cream, paprika, onion, beef---can you still relish it? Once you know there are formulae, can you ever be happy knowing that you have chosen one formula? Can you choose more than one and not be trapped in a dual reality?

After dinner we took our friend on a stroll around the Castle grounds. The views are breathtaking. If you visit Budapest, you must walk around the castle district at night. All the buildings gleam with luminous stone. The Parliament across the Danube is a delicate wedding cake in stone. Beware midnight: all the monuments go dark.

Today: A morning at home writing. An afternoon that starts with a lazy lunch at the Ket Szerecsen restaurant near the Liszt Ferenc ter (who we learned last night was NOT Hungarian). Wandering about the city center. Tonight: An Arthur Miller play in Hungarian, which might be beyond my reach, but will give me plenty of time to sit and ponder postmodern thoughts.

Budapest Blog of note:

1 comment:

Zsolt said...

its very interesting to me to read your experiences about Budapest:) And in a way I agree with your thoughts about "connection" and sense of home.

And thank you for refering to my site:) its a honour