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Archive for the ‘Moving East’ Category

Two weeks ago we hitched from Vienna into the autumn of Budapest, the other Habsburg capital. It took us three rides, our last driver being a cousin of the second who had been called in order to pick us up on the highway. He appeared at the petrol station like a djinn from a bottle and took us across the Danube into the center of the city, to Keleti station. With a friendly “Hello” the unknown friend disappeared to wherever he might have come from and left us exactly where we wanted to be, just a few minutes walk from Edina’s place. Edina had been nothing but a name until then, someone on the internet saying “arriving on the 1st is ok for me”. The abracadabra of Couchsurfing.

When we arrived in her cosy fifth floor flat we were greeted by bright colours, intricate rhythmic guitar, dancing melodic flute, violin song, Turkish percussion and a warm meal prepared with delicious Persian spices. We sat with Edina and a friend of hers as we ate, talking about the Near East and all colours of the Rainbow, and felt no need to think of ourselves as strangers to that place. The band kept rehearsing and when the music died, we were already soundly asleep in our new home for the days to come.

The days swept by like a good flying carpet, regularly interwoven by oriental foresights. Memories of a future we may or may not experience. Our friend Attila, not a Hun, connecting people in his illegal Teahouse. Edina, bellydancing through the room. Stories of the Turkish Empire dreaming of expansion. Negotiations with the consul of Pakistan about our visa. The big Jewish community of Budapest awaiting the security check in front of the synagogue. We floated through a city that has seen empires invade and fall.

We did not get the Pakistani visa we came for. First, the Consul said, because it is too dangerous to travel to Pakistan these days and second, because we are not Hungarians. Instead, we met incredibly interesting, inspiring and deep people. We spent a celestine day in the forests of Dobogókö. We ate truckloads of Govinda food. We discovered Asthanga Yoga as a new track to focus on and Sanskrit as a contemporary lingua franca in Hungarian Yoga lessons. We bumped into Jankó, a master of various eastern European flutes, and got inspired to include the Hungarian Kaval into the ever growing music shop we carry around. We decided to take a new route trying to bypass Pakistan by taking a boat from Iran to Dubai and from there to India… if our visa story with Iran works out.

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