Esterházy Péter, 1950.04.14 – 2016.07.14
coworker: – Phew, it’s hot today! Are you gonna jump into your pool after work?
me: – Such a nice idea! Unfortunately I don’t have a pool, but good for you!
(five minutes later):
coworker: – Oh, it’s soooo hot today! You too should jump into your pool at home!
me: – Well, I actually do not have a pool at home.
(an hour later):
coworker: – I can’t bear with this heat anymore! I can’t wait to jump into the pool after work. You should totally do the same!
me: – I am a white trash immigrant. I grew up in poverty in Eastern Europe. I am now living in
the house of horror the deepest hole of Austro-Balkan hell a service apartment of exactly 20 quadratmetres. I do NOT have a pool.
(at the end of our shift):
coworker: – And now we can finally go home and jump into the pool! Aren’t you happy to have a pool on a day like this? Go and jump into it as soon as you’re at home!
me: – Yeah. That’s exactly what I’m gonna do.
(I spent my whole life, which is longer than I’d care to admit, in the belief that in order to take part in a conversation, it is necessary to listen to the others. Turns out I was completely wrong.)
Just to keep record of some of the things that otherwise would be forgotten would I hold onto chronology too strictly; things that made my life better even if only for one short moment.
One of those things was eating cherries…
…especially twin cherries:
My bike, Priscilla. I bought her from a Portuguese girl who has since moved back home; and decided to keep the name she gave it (I am the queen of second
third fourth tenth hand bikes):
That my bike has “happy” written on it…
…and that she is not the only happy bike out there:
Things I find in my bed after Milo naps in it (a half meter long plastic toy tram, a ladle, and the naked leg of a Barbie doll, just to name a few):
My new pink Adidas ballerinas (the only piece of pink clothing I’ve ever owned, I’m fairly sure). I got them at the mall called Mercury Centrum in České Budějovice:
This mosaic. It reminds me of Wien:
Cats on walls…
…and in my work email:
Deer on my new hoodie:
The new Mma Ramotswe book:
All the three and a half days of summer we’ve got this year (so far)…
…which I used for going on bike rides…
…and taking cable cars:
This cheese I found at Merkur. It is so good (and it reminds me of last summer):
That, after 5 months on raw food (and junk food), I can now finally cook again:
That my room smells like elderflower:
Móricka’s new manifesto: When I grow up, I will be Ada and I will take the train to places very very far and I will buy all the presents. (I feel like I’m turning into the
American Auntie Rich Relative From The Other Side Of The Iron Curtain, a phenomenon I so badly envied from the neighbourhood kids while growing up in Socialist Hungary):
Those 30.863 voters who turned over the elections (Obviously, I am not allowed to vote in Austria. But I still have my opinions about my pampered, twenty-years old coworkers with their houses and swimming pools, who all voted right radical because of “young blood” and “dahoam”):
That I’m moving out of this house (the neighbours! Give me a lonesome island!)…
…because I’m finally, finally leaving Linz. Not a day too early. My time here had so much in common with my last few Dutch months. The city that I failed to click with. The social isolation. The terrible weather (it was snowing yesterday! On the 18th of June!). The frustrating living conditions (the neighbours! Did I mention my neighbours!). The feeling that I’m stuck and that it’s not my fault. The general unhappiness this unfortunate combination brought on me. Truly, it were some miserable eight months. But it’s almost over now!
Of all places of the world, Liechtenstein is the one I never gave any thought before my surprisingly adventurous last summer. People like me* usually have nothing to do with the tax paradise of Europe, and there is a reason for it, haha.**
* people coming from Eastern-European countries and living on nurses’ salaries
** there was that awkward moment, when I got confronted with the price of one single scoop of Liechtensteinian ice cream; it’s the equivalent of 4 euros in CHF. It made me immediately realise that despite having come a long way since my Socialist childhood, I’m still very, very far from blending in
Anyway. If you all of a sudden, under whatever circumstances, find yourself in Vaduz,
as it happened to me simply by becoming a travel nurse, you really should take the time to visit the last remaining wooden bridge over the river Alpenrhein.
You may take the bus there, because public traffic in Liechtenstein is excellent…
…except when it’s not. Because it’s early in the morning. Or late in the afternoon. Or it is Saturday. Or Sunday. Or any other holiday.
Fortunately, everything is in walking distance in Vaduz, so if you are too impatient to wait a whole hour for the next bus, just take the road and walk along some poetic scenario…
…and a colourful industrial area…
…until you reach the Alpenrhein…
…and your destination, the Alte Rheinbrücke.
It is 135 meter long…
…and is made completely of wood.
The original bridge was built in 1871. During the following 140 years it needed to be adjusted to the actual water capacity of the river several times.
The last renovation took place in 2010. There is a small memorial plaque hanging inside of the bridge to one of construction workers, the carpenter Andreas Maier-Toth, who recently passed away. Similar to the half of this planet’s population, he too had Hungarian roots.
Now walk over the bridge together with other
creepy shadows fellow tourists.
Once safely arrived in Switzerland…
…consider your possibilities.
You can either look over to Vaduz castle (remember, it’s full of living princes waiting for you to marry
all of them)…
…or admire the Swiss flora…
Or you can just take a lazy bike ride along the river.
This is also the place where, after a long, exhausting but fruitful career as a Swiss investment banker, you can finally retire and live for your hobbies.
I’m thinking about picking up my flute again a lot lately – is there a chance that it would make me as happy as it did before I made music to my profession and it made me seriously ill? I really can’t tell.
Of course music wasn’t the cause of the outbreak of my clinical depression. But right then, as it was happening to me, it really felt that way.
I haven’t played in four and a half years. That’s a long time. This piece would be a good place to start over.
At my current workplace I don’t really get a lot of opportunities to make mindful conversations with my coworkers (they prefer not to talk to me), but on the rare occasions they forget about the main policy* of the Austrian working and lower middle class**, there are chances our small talk session turns out to be quite memorable.
* Don’t Talk To Strangers! They Are Evil, Stupid And Dangerous!
**and, most likely, the aristocracy. (Un)fortunately, I have exactly zero experience with Austrian nobility, so I can’t really tell about this one
coworker: – Are you the only child of your parents?
me: – I have a sister.
coworker: – Does she have children?
me: – She has two sons.
coworker: – Well, it’s your turn now!
me: – ???
coworker: – Go on! Start to have babies!
me: – ???!!!
coworker: – Your sister has already made it. Now it’s your turn.
me: – Why should I copy every decision of my sister? What if she jumps out of the window? Should I jump too?
coworker: (shows embarrassing lack of knowledge about world history)
me: – Don’t you learn this stuff in school?
coworker: – No, we only learn about Austrian history.
me (incredulously): – What’s about the Soviet Union? The American Civil War? The French Revolution?
coworker: – We only learn about Austria.
me: – That can’t be true. Please tell me it isn’t.
coworker (trying hard to come up with something): – Hitler got mentioned though.
me: – That’s reassuring.
(Hitler was born in Austria. Maybe that’s how he made it into the curriculum.)
coworker: – There is a good ice cream parlour in Grein.
me: – Oh, Grein, isn’t it that place with that historical theatre?
coworker: – I don’t know. I only go to Grein to get ice cream.
me: – It’s the oldest theater in Austria still in use…
coworker: – You can also have schnitzel with fries…
me: – …it’s more than two hundred years old…
coworker: – …and tafelspitz…
me: – …and is completely preserved in its original state…
coworker: – …quite expensive though…
me: – …prisoners were also allowed to visit it…
coworker: – …but you get a lot of food for your money, so it’s a good deal.
me: – …and you could even watch the performance while sitting on the toilet!
my family doctor: – Where are you from?
me: – Hungary.
mfd: – But you don’t look Hungarian at all!
(There is no such thing as “Hungarian looks”. We don’t have a national stereotype.)
(Okay, so maybe we do.)
my boss: – Do you know X.Y.?
me: – No.
my boss: – That’s not possible! He is also from Budapest!
(Budapest’s population is over two million. Shame on me for not being acquainted with every single member of it.)
my coworker: – Do all Hungarians have blue eyes?
me: – ???
coworker: – The Hungarian doctor has blue eyes.
me: – Oh yeah?
coworker: – You also have blue eyes. So all the Hungarians I know have blue eyes.
(Well, that’s exactly two Hungarians out of the ten million. And my eyes are green but whatever.)
the same coworker: – You shouldn’t be in contact with other Hungarians.
me: – ???
coworker: – You should use your time while living in other countries to embrace other cultures.
(I’m living in other cultures since thirteen years. I have already embraced everything that is to embrace. At one point of my life I even owned a dirndl.)
Austrian doctor: – Where did you go to nursing school?
me: – I went to some school in Hungary.
Austrian doctor: – I thought you were from Austria!
patient 1: – I thought you were from Switzerland!
patient 2: – I thought you were Czech!
People who talk to me at work:
People who don’t talk to me at work:
I might open a new subcategory betitled “conversations that never happened”.