Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Day 2008

White Christmas, as hoped for. Just a sprinkling and probably not much down in Pest, on the other side of the river. But up and over here in Buda, high in the hills, we have a sprinkled white frosting on the grass and on the patio.

Yesterday evening we went to a Christmas party at Tom Popper's. Tom is a long-time expat who has a history of holding parties, especially at the holidays.

It started out very nicely, a small crowd of expatriate "orphans" who had no local family and who hadn't themselves gone abroad for the holiday. There were some families with children and some old friends. Eldar had fun running around with the other kids. Perhaps because people tended to drift in and out and because there was no MC - Tom is a great host, but no MC - there were no toasts and no prayers and a lack of esprit de corps. Sort of fractured social affair, like a trip to the pub. Later, after the kids had mostly gone, the mood darkened into a drunken smoky late night at one of the junkyard taverns that many of the stragglers still there pack into. Intriguingly, at that stage, in the hours of the early morning, the party itself was packed. Why is it that the artist/boho crowd take so long to get out? Among the artists there assembled, I'm sure there was talent. But talented aritsts in Hungary, perhaps oppressed by economic hardship and lack of opportunity, tend to be prone to depression and substance abuse, along with proactve social skills and graces.

It was very nice to hang out with my old friend Claudia yesterday. I spent a few hours at her flat during the day and then later - after some convincing - she showed up at the party. Claudia is Swiss, but during a previous period, she spent more than a decade here and the local artist boho mindset had some effect. So she came a bit late. But she enjoyed herself. Another old friend, Pierre, was strangely cold to me. It strikes me as curious how people who run in government and corporate circles tend to be (outwardly, at least) far less moody and generally so much friendlier and engaging than these "real" people.

Today Eldar opened his presents, a big 3 in 1 lego ship, a pair of books, a Popeye DVD, some clothes, Turkish cookies. Lucia got a new video camera and tripod. I got a scarf and an electric razor.

Now it's 27 December. On Christmas Day, the evening thereof, we went to our friends Christopher's and Sophie's place. Christopher is a rock musician of mixed Californian and German parentage. His stepfather, who was there with his Californian mom, is also German. Also there was Pierre, who readers of this blog will remember from earlier entries. It was a great evening. Lucia shot on her new camera Maomi, Christopher's stepmom who is herself a documentary filmmaker for the past 40 years. And Adrian, her German husband was also good for some intriguing footage, telling a story of how the banana that is typically spelled with "b" but sometimes with "s."

Christopher's flat is so cool. The tiles and the furniture and the kitchen and the original art and framed photos on the walls give it a Western US, Central Turkish sort of feel, sort of desert pioneer. Maomi's place next door has its own groovy vibe, lots of pink and red and walls full of framed photos. Great kilims and antique furniture.

I made a lentil and laska mushroom lasagna. Others ate a roast beef. Then there was Sophie's homemade beigli, one with poppy seeds and the other with walnuts. Beigli is a Hungarian Christmas cake, dough rolled up with walnut or poppyseed paste and then baked. Delicious. I had a piece of the spacecake I'd made the night before where I'd served it at the party (I'm also munching on one now.)

Tonight we're off to see some friends perform.


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