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Monday, October 27, 2008


Robert's pirate party was great--people really put some thought into their costumes and the atmosphere was cheerful and full of good humor (no doubt helped by generous quantities of booze).

Except that farewell parties are not supposed to be cheerful because the next day you not only wake up with a nasty hangover, but that's when the reality sinks in--yet another friend is gone for good.

I've had it with farewells. If I had a euro for each friend that left Budapest in the past two years, I'd earn a fortune (or at least considerably more than with our ill-timed investments).

We feel like the last survivors of a once great tribe. Ana Maria and Roberto, Tina and Marco, Iva and Codru, Giorgia and Marco, Dana, Eli, Todd and Radka, Laura and Claudio, Robin and Ayesha, Loucine and Tom, Natalie and Michael, Willo, Lucija and the rest of the Habitat crowd, Sergiu and Wiolka, Adriana, Pavel and Emese, and now Robert--all gone.

It's the downside of the expat life--you hang around with other foreigners and they tend to leave, sooner or later. Budapest is not the kind of place where many people come to stay and settle, unless they have Hungarian roots or a significant other. You come with a job, you leave with a job but the in-between can last for longer than you planned or predicted. It's a beautiful city, and it's an easy, comfortable living; even if it's not all perfect, it feels damn good most of the time.

Then someone leaves, again, and you're thinking, 'have we overstayed our welcome?' Whose turn now?

Monday, October 20, 2008

Maxim is here

The phone started ringing at 4:43 on Sunday, startling both of us out of deep sleep. Ruslan quickly picked up and I knew it was time for him to leave, but for a nanosecond I just stared at the darkness outside, my heart beating hard (waking up in the middle of the night to the sound of a very loud mobile makes you think of bad news instinctively).

Only we knew this was good news--we had agreed with Tsvete that she will call us when the labour starts so that Ruslan can go and stay with Lia while they head to the hospital. We've been waiting for this phone call for a long time, but days just dragged on and "Masodik" (baby's working name) showed no signs of wanting to leave his cosy environment.

Ruslan left quickly and I tried to go back to sleep, but it was impossible, I was too excited. I thought of Tsvete dealing with contractions, and everything that was to come--fourth floor of the hospital, doing paperwork while the midwife measures the baby's heartbeat, the obligatory shower, waiting for the doctor to appear, then going into the birthing room....and all that follows.

When Boris and Andrej woke up, shortly after 8, there were still no news. I remember thinking, "well, it should be over really soon." Good guess--Maxim was born at 8:35, almost 4kg and 60cm long. It took a lot of pushing but Tsvete managed without the epidural! I am still in awe of that completely heroic dead.

So, well done Tsvete and welcome Maxim!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Gender bending?

The other day I was putting my bra on when Boris spotted me, pointed to the bra and asked:
"Mummy, why are you wearing that?"
(Erm, because it's a done thing? To pretend I have boobs? No, I really had to come up with a better answer.)
"To keep me warm."
(Stop laughing. I had to say something.)
"So, will you buy one for me, too?"
(And now what?)
"I can't, because only girls wear these."
Which is not technically true. Some boys do, too. But he is four years old. How much does he need to know about gender roles and stereotypes and all that? He's already asked me to put some lipstick on his lips, too, and yesterday he wanted to know why he doesn't have shoes with high heels, like I do. Once he even painted his nails with a highlighter after seeing me put some nailpolish on mine.
Each time I had to say that boys don't do that, it's a girl-only thing and each time he would look at me a bit confused, and not quite happy with my answer. Luckily, he hasn't yet asked why it is that certain things are just for girls or just for boys, or I'd be in trouble fishing for a credible answer. Because, what do you say?

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Nursery, days two and three

Thursday was Anrej's second day in the nursery and they allowed me to leave him for about 45 minutes while the kids were playing outside, in the garden. I took a walk in the neighborhood, did some grocery shopping and went back to find him playing in the sand, contended and oblivious to my absence. That was a good start--the teachers were impressed, so I managed to convince them to let him stay until after lunch the next day (the originally wanted me to take him before other kids start eating).

So, on Friday I dropped him off in the morning and went about my own business. To be on the safe side, I returned to the nursery about noon, just in case there are problems with lunch. It turned out the morning went quite smoothly, but when they sat him down for lunch he started crying.

He is a bit fussy about eating in places he doesn't know--usually he gets overexcited by the new environment that he refuses to eat. This time he was a bit tired, too, and he told me he wanted to play with cars. I had to explain that it is time to eat, and that other kids are eating, too. The sight of his new friend Dora eating right next to him was persuasive enough so he attacked his rice and meat.

I'm a little bit worried that he might fuss about food until he gets to know the place well and feels comfortable. That's one fear I never had with Boris--mealtimes were his favorite in the nursery and we often tempted him with the thought of food to come when he was reluctant to stay in the bölcsi.

I still remember one breakfast during Boris's first week in the nursery--the kids were all seated at their little table, eating some bread with butter and ham. We, the parents, sat behind because that was part of the introduction process. Boris sat next to Ami, a Japanese girl who would later become his best friend. He quickly finished his portion, while most other children were not even half way through. Ami was fussing about her food, clearly not hungry or not interested. At some point she turned to see where her Mum is and, without much ado, Boris grabbed her piece of bread and stuffed it in his mouth. He later become famous for always asking for a second or third helping. I even once saw him trying to scoop up some soup that fell into his bib while eating. No, definitely, food was never a concern with Boris, at home or anywhere else.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

First day in the nursery...

...was short. Although Andrej seemed to like it there (he was playing happily with the cars and paid no atttention to me), the rule says that you have to start bit by bit--first day just an hour, then a bit longer, then he stays for lunch, then perhaps they let him sleep there too.

So it doesn't really matter whether a child likes it or not, whether he or she cries or not, or whether perhaps he would want to stay. A rule is a rule.

Welcome to Hungary.