Wednesday, December 12, 2001

More Shopping

More Shopping

Ron put a load of clothes in the washing machine. Since we have no idea how long it will take, we decided to leave it and take care of them when we return from our errands. There are a dozen settings on this simple looking front loading washer. By chance, they are all in iconography, so an illiterate could probably make some sense of them. Later, our clothes will be strung up in our living room/kitchen like any other Hungarian household of moderate means.

We went looking for the English bookstore that Dawn had told us about and found it without incident. It is directly across the street for Central European University on October 6th Street. The store is small and the prices are high. It makes sense since they have to import the books, but it puts them out of our reach for a regular supply. They will become a splurge purchase, but it will be only occasional since the selection is so limited. Comically enough, the largest selection is in the Travel Section. We did pick up a copy of the Budapest Sun, the English newspaper, then headed to one of our favorite teashops for our break.

The coffee was sitting in front of me, deciding not to have tea after all and I am reading the paper. There is a question and answer column. One of the questions is about visas in Hungary. It was the answer that I found upsetting. As of January 1st, there is a new law that will make Hungary like the Central European countries. You can stay for ninety days within six months. It is uncertain how this will shape our future, but it is disconcerting and my fantasies went flying to the heavens with the smoke from my cigarette. I showed it to Ron who was nonplused about it and had no response. He had been actively checking on movies that were playing in English and said he wanted to see one tonight. It is going to be my responsibility to investigate this and see how it is going to shape our future. Up one day and down another, but I am not or at least I am going to try to not dwell on this until we find out something substantial. Our rental agent should know if her brother has to leave every ninety days also.

Thinking positive, we go buy a coffee pot. We found a Bosch brand that was $4.00 more than the one we had spotted on Monday, but it did not have a permanent filter. The filter was an additional $4.00, so with our futures in the balance of the weights of justice, we went for the cheaper model that was Hungarian made.

Our other purchases included a non-metal spatula for our new Teflon frying pans, and an ashtray that was hard to come by. For all of the smokers here, we had to go to a dozen places before finding one that sold ashtrays. Amazingly how the simple things can be so joyful. The simple life could become a habit. Then we stopped for food for dinner.

Ron wanted to get dry beans to make soup for tomorrow night. He asked whether we should get chicken broth or not, but I told him my decision making skills were on strike and he was on his own. I doubted whether they even had chicken broth, but wanted him to see for himself. Cans of soup of any kind were not to be found. He settled for bouillon cubes. Every question asked about food, I responded with, “You decide, it is your choice.” I have too many agendas to keep track of to take on menu planning besides and this is the only thing that I can delegate.

With our hands full, I handed it all over to Ron to take home and I went to the bakery for an afternoon snack in lieu of dinner and also for something for breakfast. He had told me it was two blocks away to the left, but my sense was that it was one block to the right. Following his directions, I walked for two blocks for nada. I was correct and it was one block from our apartment.

Being cold after my longer than should have been walk, I was pleased to come home to a fresh, hot cup of brewed coffee that was more than 3½ ounces that you usually get in the shops. With the beans in a pot to soak, I hear this groan and mumbling. That is my clue that I need to step in to assist in some way. Ron pointed to the pot and there were tiny kernel shaped things floating to the top of the water. After a thorough examination, I diagnosed them as some kind of spice. They all were identical in size and shape, unlike insects that grow at varying stages. These things had no legs, antennae, or wings. I am sure it was some type of spice added since these were mixed beans and not all one variety, but we rinsed them anyway in a large holed colander and now they are soaking.

When it was time to go to the movies, I asked what we were seeing. I did not want any part in deciding that either. I rely on Ron for the movies, since I can remember what we have seen and what we have not for about as long as I can remember directions: about five minutes, then it is gone. He told me and I went along. The movies here are another cultural experience. The snack bar sells beer and hard liquor, but not popcorn. We waited to be admitted to the 7:00 show until 7:08. The theater was tiny, but the seats were very comfortable. We sat through two coming attractions in Hungarian. Then the movie started. Five minutes into it I realized that we had seen the movie and I was not just recognizing it from the previews seen in the past. This was a good thing, since it was a documentary about a gay Cuban writer who had to survive Castro’s regime. Most of it is in English, but they convert over to Spanish a number of times. When we saw it originally, it was English sub-titled. I can catch bits and pieces, but not always full sentences when they speak too fast. I could not translate and listen attentively anyway. This time, it was English, Spanish, and with Hungarian sub-titles. When we walked out, I casually remarked that I like it, but the first time was better. Ron laughed and said he was wondering if I had remembered it.

When we walked in the apartment, he remarked, “I blew it. I picked a Spanish movie with Hungarian sub-titles directed by a Frenchman. Next time, you choose. Okay, fine, but you cook dinner. With deference to the hour, he made turkey patties, instant mashed potatoes, and red cabbage. Just like at home, we had frozen and instant food for our dinner. As I am typing away, I hear these words come from his mouth that I rarely ever hear. As my stomach knots, I provide an opening for his to share why he is cussing. He put the top of the new pot in the oven, and the handle melted. He did not realize it was plastic. Does this fit into “normal wear and tear” like our lease states or should I just start deducting now so I am not blown away later? Dinner was tasty or maybe it was just a relief after the day that we had.

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