Oh Those Hungarians

This is a little of this and a little of that. First, I want to tell you about a book I picked up after this last Saturday’s walking tour. The book is A Country Full of Aliens: A Briton in Hungary by Colin Swatridge. I had no intention of loving the book when I started it. Actually, it was the title that drew my attention, while the back of the book quotes a Hungarian journalist, George Mikes. Mr. Mikes is responsible for calling Hungary “a country full of aliens”, hence the title. 
I am not one to mark up books other than academic texts, but even before I desecrate them, I need to pay homage to the spirits of Gutenberg before I dare bring my highlighting pen close to the paper. For this reason, I just may have to buy a second copy of Colin’s book. One to mark up and one to keep as a pristine example of Hungarian lore. Yes, I referred to the author informally by this first name; this is due to the fact that Colin and I are of such one mind, I could have written the book myself. Well, had I had the guts to write it, I could have. He has it easier being in and out of the country whereas I am planted and rooted here. 
Nevertheless, this book is such a reflection of my thoughts, my ideas, my observations that I have been reiterating for years, it is almost as if we were one and the same person. Oh my gosh, maybe I suffer from dual personality disorder and my other persona is a married Brit educator disguised as an American. Let me think about this, there was that week that I cannot account for my comings and goings, but other than that life has been in Budapest, stable and routine. 
famous Hungarians: Stephen I of Hungary, Matth...Image via WikipediaThis book should be required reading for all Fulbright scholars who are destined to come to Hungary. It would be interesting to see a similar type book with the U.S. or the U.K. as the main topic, but it will never happen. It has nothing to do with superiority or ethnocentrism, but diversity. If you read my newly found friend, Colin’s book you will understand exactly what I mean. If you do read it and either live here or are planning a visit, let’s meet for a coffee to discuss it. If I could get students to spring for the 2,500 Huf, I would somehow try to fit it into one of my courses, perhaps Critical Thinking or Intro to Journalism.
On a somewhat related note, I am re-posting a news item that was in today’s Caboodle, the English news portal. This article is a direct quote or at least the part within the quotation marks, so I cannot take any responsibility for the English grammar or the content. Some of it has me still scratching my head trying to figure it out. I have another short commentary at the end.

June 30, 2011, 7:34 CET
Survey shows Hungarians hard-hit by crisis, unhappiest of post-communist bloc
By MTI

Hungary was one of the hardest-hit by the recent global financial crisis among countries in transition, according to a fresh survey by the World Bank and the EBRD, national daily Nepszabadsag reported on Wednesday.

Hungary ranked third among the countries of central and Eastern Europe in terms of suffering the largest blows. Two-thirds of Hungarian households were affected, 20 percent more than the average of the sample, taken at 39,000 households in 34 countries, the survey said.

Hungarians were the most unhappy about their life: only 18 percent said they were content with life. Respondents were especially pessimistic about their future, with support for market economy falling to one of the lowest levels in comparison to other countries and since 2006, when the survey was last taken.

Faith in democratic institutions in Hungary was very low compared to western countries. Exceptions were Hungarians’ assessment of the government and parliament, which was 5 percentage points higher than the average in western states and nearly doubled since 2006, the survey said.

Okay, now me again. Hello…look at the above paragraph again. Low faith in democratic institutions in HUNGARY, as compared to western countries. However, Hungarians’ opinion rose 5 points concerning government and parliament. Well if you omit government and parliament, what is left in the realm of democratic institutions that are of any importance? This paragraph must have lost big time in the translation process.

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