Tuesday, December 05, 2006


This morning in my two hour break between fighting the 5th graders into submission and coaxing the 6th graders into using a single word of English, I was sitting in my bathroom (it being the only room in my flat which can be heated to a temperature which doesn’t require two shirts and a sweater) reading Elizabeth Warnock Fernea’s Guests of the Sheik, and I came across one of my favorite passages:

As my Arabic (read: Hungarian) improved, I could occasionally get the drift of conversations and understand occasional fragments. It seemed to me that many times the women were talking about me, and not in a particularly friendly manner. If I could have been certain they were talking about me, and understood exactly what was being said, then I could have dealt with it, replied to the comments and brought it out in the open. But the terrible thing was that I could not be certain. Were they talking about me or not? What errors in etiquette or custom had I committed? What in heaven’s name were they saying? My uneasiness grew in this atmosphere of half-hearing and part-understanding.

If I ever get around to writing my book about life in Hungary, I’m totally plagiarizing that. I mean, more than I already have here.

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