Monday, August 14, 2006

ID Withheld

Generally, when my phone rings and displays “ID Withheld,” I don’t answer it. There are only three possibilities who might be calling, only one of them good:

1) It might be family calling from America. But this happens pretty infrequently.
2) It might be a wrong number, which inevitably leads to me having to explain in broken Hungarian. Although now I’ve just started using English. Hey, if you can’t dial a number properly, I don’t have to attempt your language.
3) It might be my contact teacher Kati. Which is who it was this morning. Three times.

The first time she called, it was to remind me that I needed to go reregister with the police. Actually, I was supposed to do it within 2 days of returning, oops. She’s leaving on holiday today and suggested I go alone, reminding me that the man at the foreigners’ registration desk spoke English. Diplomatically (especially considering that I hadn’t had coffee yet), I refrained from pointing out that before getting to the kind English-speaking foreigners’ registration desk, one has to navigate á la Indiana Jones The Seven Terrifyingly Brusque Hungarian-Speaking Gates of Entry into the police facility. Instead, I mildly said that I’d rather not go without a Hungarian speaker. She sighed and said she was going to call the school.

The second time she called, it was to tell me that her husband would accompany me to the police, tomorrow. I said (truthfully) that tomorrow I’m going to Pest. We decided to forget the whole thing until later.

The third time she called, it was to tell me to gather up my passport and papers and run over to the school, so that the secretary (Secretary Ági) could take me to the police, right now. I gathered, and ran. After loitering in the hallways and making stilted Hungarian conversation with the principal and the portás for fifteen minutes, Secretary Ági burst around the corner and greeted me with, “Ma nem tudom meg menni. Szia.” (I can’t go today. Hi)

She and Principal Éva suggested we go later; I haltingly explained that I’m leaving Szolnok tomorrow and not coming back until the 28th. They sighed dramatically, and asked me if this was a Hajni-program or my own program. Not that it’s any of their business, but I answered yes and yes. They stared at me and made me write down where I planned to be for the next two weeks. I wrote it (Balaton, my program; then Budapest, Hajni program), along with my phone number. And then I scurried away home.

So I don’t know what the plan is, although I suspect it will involve me ditching the Hajni-program for a day, training to Szolnok on my own forint, going to the police with whoever gets stuck taking me, and then training back to Pest again. Love-er-ly.

I’d almost forgotten about Hungarian bureaucracy. Oh, I missed it, I really did. It makes life so troublesome for my school but so interesting for me.

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