November 4

Hungarians have a knack for celebrating events that ended in utter defeat. For example, we celebrate the anniversary of October 23, 1956, that marks the beginning of a brief uprising against the Communist regime that the Soviets installed. The uprising ended on November 4, when one of the government members, betraying his comrades, called on the Soviet troops to retake Budapest and the country. The man who was prime minister over these two weeks was executed in 1958; the government member who called the Soviets back went on to rule the country till 1986. (You may want to check out this movie.) In our minds, November 4 is thus associated with defeat.

Now I hope that November 4, 2020 will be a different November 4, one that will be worth remembering. If Trump’s power ends, that will give a lot of hope to many outside the United States.

Here in Hungary, the government just announced another set of “emergency measures”, supposedly to address the worsening Covid situation. Most of these measures are meaningless—schools remain open, sports events are still happening with large audiences—, but at least they include “an extraordinary legal order”, which amounts to the suspension of the parliament’s power and gives the prime minister to interfere directly with companies and with everyday life, through decrees. In the meantime, government-controlled media keeps broadcasting misinformation about how Trump has already won.

Someone, a US citizen that I follow on Instagram, posted this meme in her story: “I voted and I am very nervous”. Well, I didn’t vote—I have no power to do that—but I am very nervous all the same. My country always managed to find herself in the crossfire between much larger powers, and our life—our liberty—always depended on who was stronger in this region.

We will have no general elections until 2022. I don’t know what chance we have to defeat or even challenge those who currently assume power over Hungary—the opposition is not doing great, either, and hasn’t been doing great for quite some time. But I know this: to have any chance, any hope to challenge them, Trump must go. US citizens, you live in a county that still counts as a superpower; your government still defines much of the power balance in the world. You may want to say you’re voting for yourself or for America; but, like it or not, you happen to be responsible for the greater scheme of things, too. I don’t know whether this is good or bad, but this is our reality.

I truly wish we will wake up to a November 4 that we will want to remember, not forget.

#pridemonth: I choose to love

My company – the one I own roughly one-third of – recently put out a message in support of the Pride Month and LGBTQ+ communities. They even changed their profile picture in social media to this:


In this post, I want to confirm that I’m fully and wholeheartedly behind this – but what’s the big deal? This should go without saying. Except that I think of myself as a practising Catholic of sorts (even with my diminishing trust in the bodies and officials of the Church). And these days anyone who professes to be Christian seems to be expected to explain any liberal leanings. Especially as we have received a few – not many – angry reactions and hate messages that speak of a “violent minority”.

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The destruction called GDPR

In a daring move, facing mortal peril and all sorts of tremendous adversity, my company will… send out a newsletter this week. (When you read this, it may already have happened.)

Judging from all the desperate e-mails I have received last week (and the swarm I am still receiving these days), sending newsletters seems the worst offense anyone can commit in the world of business. The hype was picked up by large corporations who also started asking for our consent to send e-mail, reinforcing the panic over love’s labour’s potential loss. Continue reading

Stand. Your. Ground.

The world is becoming a worse place every day, laments a colleague of mine while sipping a casual coffee in the morning. She said this just a few days after Trump was elected, and our PM started boasting how the PEOTUS loved Hungary.

For the few of us who’d prefer to live in a world without hatred, to cherish life and freedom, and maybe to help others, the list of safe places grows thinner by the day. Because when the “people” elect a crook who, with his (her?) every move and action, fuels racism, xenophobia, ignorance, and poverty – our first thought is to go someplace else where our values are not being mocked and derided. Continue reading

Encounter with a Young Man (by Frigyes Karinthy)

Connecting to the previous post, here is my attempt at the translation of a short story by Hungarian writer Frigyes Karinthy (1887-1938).

Encounter with a Young Man

Frigyes Karinthy

I was in high spirits: forgetting about many things, I fumbled to light my cigar, and then we began walking down Andrássy út, the grand avenue of Budapest. My beatiful and darling wife was smiling at me from beneath the veil, my beatiful darling, who, behold, loved me, and had allowed me to love her.

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The Third Tower Travels – Two: The Third Tower

This summer I took my family to Italy, to a seaside resort on the outskirts of Ravenna. It was within an easy driving distance from San Marino where the Torre di Montale, the Third Tower is.

Hungarian writer Antal Szerb wrote a book called The Third Tower, about his Italian travels in 1936. It was this Third Tower, the peak of Szerb’s journey.

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