Wednesday, February 29, 2012

I Made a “D” in Anthropology and Psychology (from Aaron)

(alert, you have to read all the way to the bottom to get to the video)

I took both of these classes in college as electives and they were both uninspiring, way out of my interest range at the time.  However, I am always interested to learn more about the people in the areas that I have travelled in the last couple of years.  I guess it’s back to the history buff in me again.  This part of the world has seen their share of invading armies, Communism then Democracy, revolutions failed and successful.  Have I mentioned that the people here seem unfriendly and depressed?  Please remember, March 15th is a Hungarian Holiday called "Revolution Day" which celebrates the day a revolution started in 1848, yet the revolt was unsuccessful.  Is it asking too much to stumble into a conversation with an old timer who can “spin a yarn” about wars past?  Trust me, I have the time to listen.  I thought maybe being American would be a novelty to some here that would lead into conversation, but when I tell people I mostly get rolled eyes.  And there aren’t a lot of Americans that make it to this town of 20k.  The English on some of the signs and the menus are for some of the Brits that make it over here.  You can’t get a hello, smile, head nod, even eye contact when walking down the street.  Even on the Sunday morning stroll to church.  The birds are chirping, the sun is out, it is a beautiful heavenly Sunday morning, and granny won’t even crack a mini smile or a “Jo Reggelt” (good morning)?  I really would like to make a friend who can give me a little background.  Maybe the Priest?  What about a city elder who owns the local butcher shop?  Nothing yet.

There is an attractive, young, tall brunette who works at the beer and wine store a stone’s throw from the apartment.  I have been in there half a dozen times pricing beer or wine, and every time she forgets from the last time that I am not Hungarian.  She will tell me the total in Hungarian then when I say “English” or “American” she rolls her eyes and flips the cash register display around to show me the total.   I have made a big impact. 

Even the kids playing at the playground and at the indoor Aqua Palace are having kind of a subdued fun.  A lot of gentle wading and occasionally an accidental splash, which draws a scowl from their mom.  Kimbo has noticed it also, and I promise even though I have noticed it the whole time, I just now googled “unfriendly hungary” and there is quite a bit of documentation to back me up.
DISCLAIMER:  George, Adam, and Cornell, if somehow this gets back to you, I want to say that all of you have been very professional, accomodating and very friendly.  These comments are only about the general population in my short experience. 
My uneducated theory, remember  the “D”, is that it has something to do with communism.  The analogy that keeps coming to my head is a cowering animal that has been whipped up on.  It’s as if they are concerned that as soon as they cheer up, some higher power will swoop in and put them in a gulag, take away their microwave, or make them wait 5 years before they can buy a car.  Early on in the trip a Hungarian told me “Miskolc used to be a big industrial center but some powerful rich man decided to move all the jobs somewhere else.”  Ya, well that is free market capitalism, is what I think to myself.  Distrust seems to run deep.

I did find one young lady in one of the stores who discovered I was American as she reluctantly initiated a conversation.  Turns out she knew limited, broken English.  She did okay, enough to have a 10 minute conversation.  Then at the end she told me that she was studying to be a Certified English Translator to get a job in Budapest.  No wonder she stopped to talk a bit. 
I only go on about this because I miss the, "speak your mind, tell it straight, "Howdy", and friendliness that is West Texas" 

And of course, with the boys……being boned up on psychology or reverse psychology could really come in handy that last few weeks and the journey ahead.  The boys are starting to settle in or “settle down” (they can both say this term clearly) a bit in the last few days.  Things may be taking a turn in the right direction.  We have used a steady supply of “loving discipline” to get them to understand what we are trying to get across.  When we have told them “no” or “nem” repeated times on the same thing and trust me they know we are saying not to do it again.  Then they do it.  When this happens they go into timeout, careful detail to use all the same language during this process so they start to recognize it.  Then there are levels of their crying and madness during timeout, then when they are done, they come over, we hug, then we again gently and softly explain why they were in timeout.  This process seems to have turned especially Drew / Christopher who doesn’t seem to have such ups and downs and mood swings.  And of course he is getting more comfortable with his new parents.  They do consistently call us mom and dad now.  This is heartwarming and encouraging.  Especially to hear Sam say it. 

When we skype with friends and family, everybody says “Hi Drew, Hi Sam.”  But actually we have been calling them “Sammy Hommie” and “Drew Christopher.”  Our theory is that they are probably struggling enough with the language that to suddenly cold turkey calling them something totally different is probably a little too much.  Just today we have called them “Drew” and “Sam” only with marginal success. 

They can say the following words:  stop, please, amen, timeout, thank you, hot, cold, einie menie miney moe, mom, dad, settle down, brush teeth.  They are understanding many many more.  I can tell Drew to “please throw that in the trash” or “let’s brush teeth” and he understands and does it.    

Hungarian Whining at the Playground (part 2)

So Sunday, we took the boys to 10 oclock mass for the first time.  This is a monumental step for everybody.   We plan on raising them as good Catholic boys, so here is the start.  I am apprehensive about taking them to this old church to mass, but then again I think maybe they will understand more of it than I will.  Young people don’t go to church here that I have seen.  In Miskolc and here in Hadjuszobloszlo its all old married couples or widows who are dressed in their best Sunday Furs.  We get there early and get a seat towards the back.  The church fills up quick and then the priest makes an announcement for everybody to squeeze together so that the people standing in the back can sit down.  I am not kidding, out of the 100 to 150 people in mass, there is not one child in the whole church, except for our 2.  There are not even any children altar servers.  So no drama here, surprisingly the boys did quite well, sitting still, getting really stoked when the sign of the cross was made, since we had been practicing it, and they really liked the kneelers and the standing up and sitting down with everybody.  They did so good that we gave them some chocolate afterwards as a reward but I am not sure they made the connection.  I said prayer after prayer during mass asking, “Lord, just keep them content.”

We go to the playground later.  We have been 3 or 4 times since the first go round that I blogged about, in which they were so bent out of shape about something, but I couldn’t tell what because they speak a different language.  They are warming up to it and are enjoying the slide and the climbing deal and the swings and they are really liking the Pommel Chair ZiP Line now, which I think is by far the coolest deal on the playground.  Yes I have ridden it myself countless times.  It’s a little bit warmer today than it has been so there are lots of families out.  Everything is going good, until I get a little too aggressive with the “Push”  of the chair.  What happened next wasn’t good, and all the Hungarian parents around gasped at the violent American visitors.  Unexplained to them is that the Americans are toting around Hungarian kids?  I could see the mistrust in the local’s eyes as we left. 

This is Sam getting a little "extra push" from Dad.  If you are wondering, he got up laughing from this.


  1. Tried to watch video but message appears. THIS VIDEO IS PRIVATE.

    Just from your posts I can sense that y'all are settling in.

    1. I got the same message. Your post sounds encouraging! It just takes time and patience. You both will have a lot less or a lot more after this part of the journey!

  2. I hope Sam got up laughing, because I heard both you giggle!

  3. I am impressed you and Kimberley gave the boys a turn on the zip line! I bet that was hard to sit out a turn!! Hang in there both of you, you will be back home before you know it!!!

  4. I think its time to rally the gang and build one of those suckers from the upper deck of the Sage cabin down to the Murphy hottub.