Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Our Girl

Later I want to write a long post that combines my parent's visit to Hungary and our ribbon ball, but first I wanted to quickly write about Heves.

In of itself, it is not the most beautiful town in Hungary, nor is there lots to do. It has made the transition from Gyula, which is beautiful and active, really difficult. Some days I have struggled to find great things about Heves, and inevitably my mind wanders back to the bonfire on my name-day.

"People don't seem to like Heves because it is a great little city, but they like it because of the people" she said.

And this is entirely true. I really like the people here. Last week Eta, invited my parents to a wine tasting and then to her house. Her boundless joy and positive energy is wonderful. Judith and I communicate in English/german/hungarian, as we chat and she helps me with any questions I have. David, who runs the digital whiteboard room, occasionally plays electronic scrabble with me. Two of my private students tell me all the news I miss out on, such as the strike in Ferihegy. And Kitti and the rest of my neighbors. I give private lessons to Kitti from upstairs, because she wants to be able to improve her english for when she visits her daughter and grandchildren in England. We usually chat a little, and work through the book. She tells me about concerts, like the jazz concert that are coming to Heves, and sometimes brings me little cakes or sweets. Last night, she asked when I would be free to have dinner with the ladies in the building. She said that one of the neighbors had been asking about my plans, and if Kitti had seen "our girl"

And that summarizes it, our girl. The feeling of being included into the community. It is what makes Heves beautiful.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I've got good news and bad news...

This is the sentence with which I have been beginning all of my classes. This week 18 of my 22 classes were supposed to have a test, which due to my inability to print their tests, have been either outright canceled or pushed back to January. So instead we have been playing games and having discussion days. This has lead to slightly more mayhem than usual, but only slightly.
However the relaxed atmosphere of my classes has thrown the differing levels of respect into sharp relief.

My kids ask, and say things to me that I would have been too mortified to ask any of my teachers. For example, I now know that not imagining my expanding pudge, because my 9b asked if I was pregnant today. And one of my shy 12B students, who is actually really good in English, caught up with me on my way home, and asked me how old I am, if I have a boyfriend, and will I go to the ribbon ceremony on Friday. Wictor, who got extra homework for cussing in class, tried to wheedle it down as I passed him on my way home.

On the other hand, they are also extremely old-fashioned in their respect. They call out greetings, both in English if they can, and Csokolom (I kiss your hand), if they can not. At lunch, teachers usually cut the line, which I feel a little guilty about. Today one of my girl’s waited for me to get my cutlery and then motioned me before her. Another student Gabor, chased me down to hand me a slip of paper that had dropped out of my pocket. Telling one of my classes that I was going home for christmas, a look of panic came over their faces and one asked "when are you coming back?" After I assured them that I would be back in January, they looked relieved, and said "good."

Monday, December 8, 2008


In Hungary not only does Santa Clause bring sweets on the 6th of December, but also his helpers are not the cute elves that the animated Christmas movies from the 50s have made iconic. Instead he is helped by the Krampus. This is, for all the No could understand little devils. They carry switches and give them to bad boys and girls.
In 10b, three of the No's most popular girls walked in on Friday wearing homemade devil horns. The No's curiosity caused her to throw over the lesson plan, cancel their test the following week, and spend the rest of the hour listening to her kids explain Krampus. They giggled a little at the concept that their teacher did not understand, and their explanations, which all 17 kids tried to do at once, were punctuated with drawing on the board, and the ever-present cries of Mit Csinalni? (What is going on?)
On Saturday evening I met a former colleague of my Father's for dinner, and his wife explained that Krampus in Austria was even more intense. That Santa and krampus came house to house, and Santa judged the child. The good children got toys and sweets, and the bad ones were put into a basket by the krampus and carted off. Added to this are the terrifying costumes of the Krampus, and I am glad that my childhood saw Santa’s helpers as little guys in pointed hats, who occasionally just wanted to be dentists.

Monday, December 1, 2008

No more Budapest

My Chariot....

Don't get is wrong, the No loves the captivating capital of the entrancing country in which she resides, but...

Of the last 5 days, the No has been in Budapest every single one, slept only one night in Heves, and managed to make all but two of her classes. How could she pull off the amazing feat of working in one city while being official bum on couch in the fourteenth district of Budapest? Easy, spend lots of money and lots of time on the bus. Between Thursday and Monday the No has spent 15 hours and 35 minutes on the Bus. (and this does not include public transport within Budapest itself....)

Why you may ask would any rational person choose to spend 15 + hours in 5 days on a bus traipsing through rural and into urban Hungary? The answer, simply put is people and panic.

Thursday the No was lured to Thanksgiving dinner, a stupendous blow out with more people than space.

Friday the No had to return home to teach. Alone in her flat, lonely and procrastinating cleaning said flat, she was lured back to the capital by bowling, movies, pancakes and museums. Truth be told, she should have known she was traveling too much, when her bus driver into Budapest (who happened to be the bus driver to Heves at 7 that morning) recognized her, and when she asked for a ticket, he gave her a look which all too clearly asked 'Really?'

Sunday saw the end of the fun, and the now second trip home from Budapest this week.

Monday's round trip was caused by panic. Forgotten by the No, her passport had only two spaces left for stamps. This caused a problem as she intends to visit Minnesota over winter break, but must return. However, the embassy (where they handily can take 10 minutes to sew in new pages), is only open from 1-4 Monday through Friday. Mondays of the B week coincided as the only time in which the No could make the round trip to the embassy and still make all of her classes.

The best parts of the insanity, where the calm and beautiful moments (none of which were on the bus):

The majesty of the parliament in the foggy-drizzly weather

Eating long craved after Mexican

Going to an American embassy, by herself for the first time in her life

Students waving goodbye on the bus

Buying pretty glasses in IKEA, so now the No can drink out of more than just coffee mugs

The new girth of her passport, ready for new stamps and new adventures

Friends with directions, on the phone