May 5, 2016

Travelogue - Budapest




Two of the things that I definitely wanted to visit in Budapest were statues. One was of a person whom I googled up couple of weeks before - Imre Nagy. The other one was of Ferenc Puskas, one of the greatest footballers ever.

Imre Nagy Statue Overlooking Hungarian Parliament 
Imre Nagy was out of a peculiar novelty. One of the best political satires of all time in Malayalam - Sandesham - has a reference to him amidst a political conversation . Something that highlights the ubiquitous political awareness of a keralite in the early 90's.

Ferenc Puskas who led the invincible Magic Magyars of 1950's is part of football folklore. Someone who failed at perhaps the most important game of his career - World cup final 1954 .  Hungary of today seems to have totally forgotten him. There is a stadium dedicated to him in the city. But other than that, Puskas seems to be totally forgotten. We had quite a bit of difficulty in tracing out the exact location & identifying the correct tram & metro tracks. It was pretty disappointing that the city does not have anything better to celebrate the Magic Magyars
Ferenc Puskas statue at Becsi Ut, Budapest

 The turning point in Puskas & Nagy's lives was the soviet invasion of  1956. Puskas returned to Hungary only in the 90's .  Nagy was incarcerated & executed , and secretly buried , only to be  re-interred in the late 80's after the soviet withdrawal . Nagy was a communist, who fought along with Bolsheviks, but later-on fell out of favor with the Soviets because of his disagreement with the Stalinist policies .

Glittering Hungarian Parliament overlooking Danube
Hungary as a nation suffered under two of the most notorious regimes of 20th century - Nazis & Stalin. Many of the survivors from the concentration camps of Nazis ended up in Gulags of Russia. This history is captured in detail in Terra Haza ,a Nazi & Soviet torture cum prison complex converted into a museum. It is a testimony to the fact that extreme policies on any side of political spectrum can be extremely dangerous to the humanity. It is also a reminder to the society that one should not color a political philosophy as good or bad. In this case, many of the victims were members of the Hungarian Communist party ( Like Nagy ) and perpetrators were also from a section of communist party who agreed with the Soviets.
Beer Bike / Pedal Bar on Budapest Roads

Present day Budapest is a thriving Metropolis .  I could spot offices of many modern technology companies like Flextronics , Microsoft  & Samsung.  Heard from a fellow traveler who came all the way from Durban to attend a tech conference that the Government is grooming up this place as Silicon Valley of the Europe. Public transport is excellent . The oldest subway in continental Europe is an engineering marvel just like Moscow Metro .  Trams criss-cross the city. It is a reminder to modern day city planners that a city need not be very rich to develop public transport infrastructure.
Szechenyi Baths, Budapest

The home town of Harry Houdini, really has a magical charm. Perhaps most evident in the night-time view of the parliament building & Buda Castle from the Danube.

Hungarians has a special way of relaxing. The public baths are a common sight. People from every strata of the society come to places like this for a relaxing day. These are mixed baths . I guess places like this are much needed in Indian society . It removes ones inhibitions . And it promotes a habit between men & women to see each other respectfully, irrespective of what an individual is wearing.

Goulash / Beef & vegetables soup &  Chicken Paprikash  are the speciality dishes in Hungary. Indians would definitely like these.  A bit spicy & really tasty

Budapest is like a phoenix raising from ashes. A city that has been unduly oppressed for long seems to be finally getting its due in the 21st century

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