Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Fábián Évi - Women in Hungary vol. 2

At first instance, when I hear something specifically labelled as ‘women’ I immediately start wondering whether it is another radical feminist approach to a certain sphere of life to highlight men-women difference (they say it is power). Well, thank God (or rather Fábián Évi), this project is amazing and has nothing to do with any personal political perspective.

Hosted in the classicist building of our national library up in the Buda Castle, Women in Hungary vol. 2 is a portrait-series taken by Fábián Évi, a young photographer from Hungary. She says (and I think she is right) that we have seen hundreds of portraits about successful men - businessmen, sportsmen, lawyers, whatever - but such series about women are not very common unless its about beauty. Therefore, it was - wisely - high time picture successful women and show it to us. 

photo 1

What we can see: musicians, doctors, politicians, the first woman rabbi, the actress of the nation, etc. It was up to the ‘models’ to have or not to have make-up, however the pictures are exposed without any retouch. The point is - of course - to realise their beauty which not only lies in their appearance but their character, their work, their way of life. The result is marvellous: you can see nearly one hundred women as they are (in reality): they are not thinner by 10kg no matter what, surprisingly they do have wrinkles above 30 and they do have embarrassing clothes, Gryllus Dorka even posed in pyjamas. Gorgeous to see they are human as well. Attached to each portrait, there is a paragraph about the person in question - why it is worth to note her name - and also a personal quote.

photo 2

The message of the exhibition is clear, Fábián Évi modestly raised her voice for something important and highlighted what we do not know but should take into account. I must tell you an example whose case is quite close to my heart as I was literally unable to understand the point in the vivisection of Geréb Ágnes - her story is explained in 3 sentences with shocking numbers and ends with half a sentence: ‘21st century…’

Perhaps this is when we say less is more: the exhibition is simple (in a good way for sure), clear and determined. Open until 12nd of July.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Can we (not) talk about the sexuality of Kölcsey?

Yesterday I almost died twice. First, when I randomly collapsed on my way to Pepita Ofélia. Second, the event that I attended was ended with some violence, including throwing glasses. Fantastic day. Let’s see what exactly happened at Pepita.

picture by: http://www.magyarhirlap.hu
This february is again, LGBT History Month for the second time (if you remember I have been working on this project since its beginning). Among the various events, there was this single panel discussion about whether Kölcsey - as one of the best poets of the Hungarian literature, author of the national anthem - was gay or not. The actuality of this question is due to a newly released book by Nyáry Krisztián (entitled ‘Így szerettek ők’), in which he - based on biographical info and the literature itself - introduced the love or at least the emotional feelings of poets and writers. None of the stories gained that much attention as the one about Kölcsey. Why is that?

On the one hand, it is a risky path to assume - in theory - anything about the intimate love life of a poet from the 1800s, as we have nearly no convincing evidentiary basis for a theory like that. Margócsy István has added that - provided that we know nothing - it is widely problematic to conclude anything about a would-be homoerotic attraction. But perhaps this is why a reasonings like this is called a hypothesis, instead of a statement. Note however that the opposite cannot be proven either… On the other hand - and this is a radically different aspect - it is also up to a debate whether we can assume at all an alleged gayness of our nation’s pride. It is not a risky, rather a dangerous path to reach conclusions such as that Kölcsey’s gayness should be immediately precluded, as he - by virtue of that he is the writer of the national anthem, a poet who did contribute to our remembrance of our glorious or tragic past - cannot be gay.

I was not willing to touch the latter topic, however it seems inevitable to mention - just like Nyáry Krisztián did himself during the panel discussion - that if he had assumed Kölcsey’s love towards the girl next door, instead of the ‘boy next door’ than it would not have been that outrageous neither among litterateur, nor among the wide public. Exactly my point.

Nonetheless, anything about Kölcsey’s love life is just an assumption, in theory ..and this is something we can (and should) deal with. I have no idea why it does harm anybody’s feelings (moreover, national identity) if we address a sensitive topic like this. Why should we remain (again) silent? Is it controversial? Is it scandalous? …or are we still in a phase that it is better to avoid talking? I think nobody can prove or disprove what his sexual orientation was. Yepp, this is due to the fact that we can not ask him directly and we have very few things to use as a supportive evidence. As a consequence, it is a challenge to find out now, and obviously, it is ‘automatically’ up to a debate what one might think — as it is the case with Nyáry Krisztián who received criticism for even the idea of such an assumption.


Throughout the whole panel discussion, I have actually lacked the pro-contra debate. I mean, the negative of the hypothesis ‘Kölcsey was gay’ is of course just that ‘Kölcsey was not gay’, but stricto senso, I have expected to hear (from the other party) that ‘he was not gay, he was straight as it turns out from…’ No such thing has been mentioned, though I think the aim of the discussion was not to convince anybody about anything (well, that would be a risky path in my understanding), but to finally talk about this, and to let people have doubts, questions or convictions. I myself need to admit, that right now I tend to believe he was rather gay than not gay, because this reasoning was a bit more convincing than the other reasoning which basically criticised just the way how Nyáry Krisztián addressed the question of Kölcsey’s sexuality. But, I do think that I need to read the referred letters to Szemere Pál and some other sources to decide upon this or perhaps to realise that no answer can be given to the question.

It is a pity, that the discussion ended a little earlier than expected as somebody from the audience started to attack people (not just verbally, but psychically as well) because - as he has stated - he is the master of this topic, he even did (does?) his PhD about Kölcsey and therefore, everybody else is stupid especially those who dare to deal with the poet at all. Well, this is a good cue why our society is …like this.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

A slice of nostalgia @ Gozsdu

I need to admit and (soon) realise that I find exciting things unintentionally. On Saturday, I had dinner with a lovely Englishman at Kolor and while crossing Gozsdu Udvar to finally arrive at the other end of it, I ran into this tiny little old timer show, accompanied by an antic market. Definitely worth a couple of minutes to go through it and some Instagram pictures, too.

Although I am not a fan of cars, I do see the beauty of old cars and find them pretty stylish evoking the glamour of old times ...ah and those black and white movies also came into my mind. I felt an urge to immediately watch one. (That I actually did as soon as I got back home.)

Gozsdu Udvar has always been lively with all its bars and restaurants but culture does likewise stir there. If you have time to check this passage within it, then do so ...and also, if you feel like spending money on old stuff, you have the chance (though you can't buy any of the cars unfortunately). Can't wait to see what's next.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Hooters: no big boom, no big boobs

Imagine drinking your morning coffee on your white, comfortable coach, checking out the latest news on tv, when your cell suddenly starts ringing. It is your friend who has just got home slightly earlier than the present phone call (…of course from a moderate, peaceful party with quiet music and few alcohol). After trying to identify whether she is still drunk or rather in a phase of hangover, she comes up with a particular need - a hangover-cure - that is: fatty, unhealthy american food. What’s more, she brings up the idea of going to the Hooters. Ok… so… are you… talking about that Hooters… that is famous for its employees’ tits good-looking appearance? Certainly, yes. As I did not find any excuse within thirty seconds, I could not say anything else than a yes. 


I need to admit though, that I wanted to try this place out since its opening but literally could not find an occasion for that. Let’s see the key to its success. After waiting for nearly two hours, my friend managed to pop in, saying sorry for her little late arrival. In the meantime, I had time to check my never answered Facebook messages even from 2012, to read through Hooters’ menu at least ten times and to smilingly answer in every 15 mins that I’m still waiting for somebody (and no, it is not that type of date where the other party never shows up…) First bit: the waitresses are all wearing a hoodie (!). Second bit: they were cool with the situation that I was sitting there for hours drinking the very same once-hot fruit tea. 

The place itself, (as it is a chain) was already famous worldwide by providing this stereotyped image of men’s place. Plop down onto the leatherette orange seats, enjoy the varieties of sports channels on all the HD TVs, order some typical fatty seemingly fast-food like American food (possibly a hamburger with french fries). Third bit: this type of food is obviously not my type, but the fact that the sauces are divided into categories based on how hot&spicy they are is a delightful offer even for me. 


Fourth bit: this place earned enough antipathy from feminists to anti-feminists as again, ‘girls are used as objects’ versus ‘girls themselves chose to be used as objects’. Seemingly, girls are happy to be used as objects as it is a major contest and challenge to get into the circle of the Hooters girls. (note: of course everybody applies voluntarily…) Guess what, nobody goes there to contribute to the sexual harassment of women and certainly there is no evidence indicating that men (and women) on their way to Hooters are about to do so. I think it is rather an old-school way of fun, just like car wash in bikini - people do find it funny and perhaps attractive, but not satisfactory. Furthermore, as no sexual service is included in the profile of the restaurant (unlike in case of eg. a strip club), I firmly believe this place is no different from any typical commercial ad, television show, etc to be sold by hot women (or men). 

To say as simply as possibly, people do like attractive people, and certainly there is nothing wrong with that. The scandals around the place therefore, I think are of more smoke than fire, Hooters is really not that of a big boom.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Pompei, little Italy spiced by little rudeness in downtown Budapest

Nice food, horrible service with the who-knows-the-price-at-the-end practice. Expect a little Italian adventure in downtown Budapest, namely Pompei restaurant at Liszt Ferenc tér. Just like in Venice: nice waiters and waitresses are hunting for you with a kind smile while offering a bite of pizza. Definitely charming, not to mention the offered daily lunch menu for 990 Ft (theoretically). 

photo 1

I can not say anything bad about the food, truly delicious: carrot cream soup as starter, and chicken  breast roasted with broccoli, ham and cream cheese, served with jasmine rice. Apart from the lunch menu, the prices are pretty much set for tourists, a soup costs like a thousand, a pizza is at least three. And the ‘tricky’ menu contains the following sentence: service fee is not included. For me, it means that if you feel like tipping, than do so. However, they meant it like this: service fee is not included, therefore we are going to charge you an additional fee, no matter what. 

photo 2

I can not tell how much I hate when places automatically add their service fee to the bill. I thought (ok, I still think…) that it should be my own decision whether I appreciate the service or - perhaps - not at all. Consequently, if I am satisfied I always pay more and if I am not, than possibly there is an obvious reason for that. From a legal perspective, there is another disturbing factor: pursuant to some EU regulation, restaurants, bars, etc should set their price in a way that it covers the service, too …and on top of this rude behaviour: why 15%? Is it another general lie designated for tourists? In Hungary, 10% is the average (as far as I know…) This is again something that reminds me of Italy, you can never guess how much extra you will pay: sometimes it is 12%, it might be 20% or perhaps none.. there are places where you pay for taking away and I also experienced it the other way round (cheaper if I do not reserve a seat). Are we heading towards this direction? Hope not.

All in all, if you can afford their prices - or perhaps you do not care that much about cheating - go and try this place out. Despite the high quality food - that worth a try - I would rather never return to this place. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

DIY tea-making at Flying Bird

The story started …as usually: Zsóka and I met somewhere downtown, wondered where to sit down, realised that we are fed up with the places we know, so we decided to try something new. 

Hurrah, (thanks to the lovely lovely foursquare app) a teahouse in Kazinczy that we have not even heard of: Flying Bird Tea House. Entering this tiny little shop, you can see a variety of organic tea, for a bit more than ordinary price. Did not seem like a sitting-down, enjoying the afternoon in a comfortable couch type of place. Felt lost, we asked the girl behind the cashier whether we can only buy tea for take away or we might as well drink something here. She - smilingly - answered yes, emphasising how obvious it was that we had never been here before. Definitely, but there is always a first time. 


She insisted on showing us around, meaning: going upstairs. Now this was something we expected to see, furniture that resembles the so-called eastern type of peace and calm …wait, that table has way too much gadget that we do not know how to use. After 30 mins of deep analysis, we managed to choose a tea and ordered it, wondering what comes after it. Our new friend offered her help by joining us for a first round.

DIY tea making in this form — absolutely new, let’s see its steps. 
  1. Boil water 
  2. Scald everything you are supposed to use 
Now comes the tea: 
  1. Put tea into a small pot Pour water 
  2. Stir it with its cover 
  3. Immediately serve the tea into two cups 
Yes, it lasts for 30 sec, and it takes like 3 rounds to master your skill how not to burn yourself during this process (as Zsóka did...).

No sugar, no honey, no other type of sweetening thingy, just pure tea. We spent there approximately 3-4 hours. One order was just enough for both of us, you can repeat the tea-making like twenty times. (or so, if you wish…) Since you need to serve the tea right after you poured water, its flavour lasts for long rounds. Quiet, relaxing, yet adventurous, what more to expect?

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