Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Mr Boozer

Today I was paging through one of the books my school uses to prepare 8th graders for high school entrance exams, and I found the dialogue below. It’s funny because somehow, in a book full of grammatical errors and obviously-non-native-English, they managed to make a pun with the names, and a good one at that:

- Mr Boozer! I am afraid things can’t go on like this any longer.
- Why, Mr Totaller, what’s the matter?
- First of all you keep coming late for work and you are always leaving before the end of your working time.
- But, Mr Totaller, I only leave when I have finished my work for the day.
- That’s simply not true, Mr Boozer. More often than not you leave your work unfinished. And the other day you turned up at work completely drunk. Can you explain that to me, Mr Boozer?
- I am sorry, Mr Totaller, I was just a little bit tipsy. It was my birthday, you know.
- Well, Mr Boozer, if there is one more occasion when you turn up drunk for work, I won’t hesitate to dismiss you.

And as I was typing this up, Laura composed me a poem on drunkenness, which she graciously said I could include here:

Inebriated Under the influence Smashed intoxicated
Under the moonlight
Bars unknown, distances stumbled
A night not remembered
Wake up who knows where
The weekend

Monday, February 19, 2007

Elkúrtuk. Nem kicsit, nagyon

The original title of this post was “Better late than never,” but I don’t really believe that. Anyway, because it’s just as funny now as it was four months ago, I finally tracked down the text of Hungarian Prime Minister Feri G’s infamous “we fucked up” speech. You can read excerpts here in English or the entire thing here in Hungarian.

For those of you lazier than I, the two most important lines:

"Nincsen sok választás. Azért nincsen, mert elkúrtuk. Nem kicsit, nagyon. Európában ilyen böszmeséget még ország nem csinált, mint amit mi csináltunk." (There isn’t much choice. There isn’t, because we fucked up. Not a little, a lot. No other country in Europe has fucked up like we have.)

"Majdnem beledöglöttem, hogy másfél évig úgy kellett tenni, mint hogyha kormányoztunk volna. E helyett hazudtunk reggel, éjjel, meg este." (I almost died because for a year and a half we had to pretend that we were actually governing. Instead, we lied morning, noon, and night.)

Nevetséges. Nem kicsit, nagyon!


What did we do this weekend? Again, it involved three different cities, transportation adventures, the eternal kaja-pia-nõk trifecta, and various injuries. Like like weekend, I think it’s best summed up in picture form.

Ouch. These weekends will kill one of us by the end of the year, mark my words.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

When I grow up...

This week I finished a unit on jobs with a quiz. One of the questions to the 8th graders asked what job they’d like when they grew up. I love free-answer questions because there’s always surprises. Here’s my favorites (with original spelling and punctuation):

From the always-perfectly-coifed-and-dressed playboy of Kassai Primary: I dont know exactly but I want to get a lot of cash. I don’t want to do anything phsyhical work because it’s hard and I don’t get enough money. Maybe I’ll be a computer repairer becuse my father to do it and I like it. It’s interesting

From a student whose highest ambition I always assumed was making it to high school: I want to be a teacher, because I’d like to give bad marks. I think it is very funny. :-) To be teacher (is very) isn’t very easy, but I want that. My students will love me. :-)

ps. When I was growing up, I wanted to be a lot of things. I never, ever, ever, voiced the desire to be a teacher. And yet, here I am...

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Can’t catch me, I’m the Gingerbread Man

I walked into one the classrooms today and found, inscribed on the board in a child’s painfully careful cursive, in faint green marker:

Run, run, as fast as you can.

I don’t know how they learned this line. I can’t believe they’re studying the poem, so maybe it was just a secret message for me. Anyway, the randomness of it made my longest day go a little faster.

Can’t catch me, I’m the Gingerbread Man

I walked into one the classrooms today and found, inscribed on the board in a child’s painfully careful cursive, in faint green marker:

Run, run, as fast as you can.

I don’t know how they learned this line. I can’t believe they’re studying the poem, so maybe it was just a secret message for me. Anyway, the randomness of it made my longest day go a little faster.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Worth a thousand words

Instead of actually trying to sum up the entire weekend, I’m reducing it to three pictures, and three things I took away.

This is the castle in Gyula. I didn’t actually make it into the castle itself, but a couple of us braver ones made it into those pits you can see in the outermost wall. Since they were about 2 meters deep, what I took away was several strained muscles from trying to climb out again.

This is a crappy map of Gyula. We thought we could walk to Romania (read more about that disaster on Arlo’s blog). But at some point we got close enough for my SuperCell to pick up the Romania network and send me the welcome message.

This is a street sign. From Vasút utca, in Mezõberény. Not really sure where that is, but we must have been there, because I’ve got the sign.

For a much more interesting story, continue reading the Cepters Saga over at Laura’s blog.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Push it

Chad used to tell the following story (hopefully he’ll forgive me for butchering it here): he was sitting in a restaurant with a colleague. On the table were various dishes and glassware. In the middle of a conversation, the colleague interrupted with a two-word command: “Push it.”

“What?” asked Chad. “Just push it,” the colleague repeated, this time throwing a sideways glance towards a water glass near the edge of the table. “Push it.” So he did. The glass fell, shattered, made a racket and a mess.

Why did he do it? More importantly, what made her think if it? What is it in any of us that makes us look at something - or someone - on the edge and instead of thinking “I’d better move that/him/her back,” we think, “all it would take is one small push...”

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Random bits of Hungarian

Although the new Americans have been doing a fantastic job of distracting me from my ambitions of learning Hungarian, I have been being sucked into this language recently in spite of myself. Two recent conversations (you have to imagine them in Hungarian; for authenticity I’ve tried to render my mistakes into English):

1) On my two-minute walk to school, I was stopped in the middle of the street by a sweet-looking elderly lady:

Néni, extremely politely:
Excuse young lady, I don’t live in this neighborhood myself but do you happen to know if there’s a paper store somewhere near here?
Self: Yes, a paper store (in the three seconds it took me to get this out, I contemplated the option of making some excuse and walking away, or breaking out my classic “Sorry, I don’t speak Hungarian,” but in the end I decided to be a good citizen, because after all I can’t avoid it forever. In three seconds, people - I think well under pressure). Yes, is a paper store just there, over there. I don’t know that, how they are calling the, um, the street, but it’s just there, the yellow building behind.
Néni, smiling widely: Oh, you’re not Hungarian! How adorable, how wonderful! Thank you anyway.
Self: No no, but, no I’m not Hungarian, but the shop is there surely, just over there-
Néni: Don’t worry, I know where there’s another one, I just go there. Thank you again, goodbye.
Self: Goodbye, thank you.

2) I’m sitting at home mushing my brain watching episode after episode of Arrested Development. The brain-mushage was probably why I broke my rule of never answering my doorbell unless I’m expecting someone

me, on the intercom: Hello?
Postman, extremely politely: Kezét csókolom! I’m terrible sorry to bother you, but it’s the postman.
me: (I buzzed him in and opened the door. He, after taking one look at me, immediately dropped all formality)
Postman: Hey, hi (szia)! I’ve got a special delivery for Mrs. György S. It’s a money order, that’s always a good thing, huh? Just sign for it here, okay.
me, puzzled that I would be mistaken for Mrs. Anyone: Um, good. That’s, great that’s. But, but I’m not Angelika.
Postman, also puzzled (at least he didn’t say, “you’re not Hungarian, how adorable”): Oh, Mrs. S is Angelika? You mean she’s not here right now?
me: No, she doesn’t live here. She’s just the um, the um...
Postman, quite intuitively: The landlady?
me, pleased at his guesswork: Yes! That’s it!
Postman: No prob. I’ll just write a delivery slip, and you pass it on, ’kay?
me: Okay.
Postman: Here you go, bye.
me: Bye, thanks.

Like I said... despite my best efforts, I am being sucked into this language. I kinda like it...