When I had the first glimpses, I won’t deny.. I was disappointed. After the uber-elite and art-ified Vienna, the modesty of the grey and brown buildings here was quite a contrast. It almost felt like I have reached back the home country, except for, of course, more cleanliness and single line traffic jams. Through the chugging industries and smoky terrains, our bus slowly moved. What was amazing was the place’s contrast with Austria and similarities with India. The train and the trams are open, as in not air conditioned. Both move using the same 1.2-1.2.3 rhythm that is synonymous with our trains. Dimly light, and stuffed with people, both carry the life through the city. But what caught me most was the tiredness in all eyes. The drained and weary- as if all the color has been washed away. The bent posture, saggy eye bags, wrinkled foreheads and the empty eyes. As if another battle lost. And it wasn’t just one, every other one rather. And when that drooping lost head rises up and meets your eyes, there is the split second in which they tell all about themselves, and then look away.. As if turning away from a wrong stop.
But sometimes, when they meet yours, you take a step more. You smile. And what you receive in return is priceless. You get to see the empty eyes fill up. You find that deep down in the person, the war’s still not lost. You see the colours returning. And then when you walk away, it’s like departing a friend. Even if not correct, this intermediate was one maybe worth the stop.
Anyways, struggling with 3 and a half bags, huffing and panting (because metros had no escalators or elevators. Yes, couple places it’s that primitive) we reached our apartment. Our host was downstairs to welcome us. He is an amazing artist and a really warm person. Peter’s life story is so much like an average Indian kid. Son of a book-keeper and an engineer, he was pushed to science and stuff till one of his teachers figured out how he was meant for art. He helped us a lot to plan our 2 days in Budapest. He also had 3 bikes in his apartment. So we biked through both Buda and Pest, early morning, by the river. Told us quite a few things about budapest, what places to eat.. I still remember, for one high end place he said “This place food is good but too costly. So you only pay smiles and walk away.” That’s the great thing about people here. They have more life to themselves. They are more open about their expressions. I loved just sitting on the train platform and see people carrying out their clockwork tasks. Somebody’s getting late for an exam, somebody having hard time bidding good bye to the loved one, somebody’s lost in the hopes while somebody trying hard to find one.
That’s what I loved here.. People. Their warmth, genuine love. Their struggle with the smiles.
That’s how, Hungary started turning for me. People.. Emotions.. Honesty.. And Love.