The Hungarian People

Hungarians are the strangest people I have come across in my life, which is made all the more weird since they are in the middle of Europe and surrounded by cultures I like.

03.06.2014 Szeged-4

Let me begin with their physical appearance.  A german looks German, a Swede looks like a Swede, a Brit looks like a Brit, a Slav looks like a Slav, an Arab looks like an Arab, the Japanese look Japanese, and an Indian looks Indian.  Every country on this planet has a look. Even Americans look American.  It is easy to tell an American black from an Ethiopian.  Hungary is the only country I know of that doesn’t follow this rule.  They have no identity at all.  They look very plain.  I cannot even say that they have mixes of German, Turkish, or Russian, because they don’t look like it.  Go to Hungary and try it.  Sit in a cafe and guess peoples nationalities.  It will be easy with the tourists, but Hungarians you will mistake every single time until you hear them speak.

Then their is their attitude.  I have two complaints about it.  They are the most negative people on the planet and also have an unhealthy, almost religious, obsession with food.  Lets begin with their negativity.  Most of them act like dogs that have been beaten.  They never smile when walking and forget about anyone saying hello or good day.  I was told by some Hungarians that if you do smile to strangers they will think that you have a mental problem.  This all goes out the window once you have befriended them.  Then they become extremely nice and hospitable, showering you with food and drinks and making you feel like an honored guest in their house.  I feel it my duty here to tell you the golden rule of Hungary.  ‘Never refuse a palinka when offered’.  Palinka is the Hungarian drink and forms a bond between you and the host immediately upon sharing one.  Refuse and you will make a lifelong enemy.  So do not visit Hungary if you do not drink.  If you do visit prepare your liver for destruction.  Real palinka made by grandfathers, and not the store bought stuff, is extremely strong.  Drinking it has resulted in my only blacked out night.  So prepare yourself.

Beyond this they always think the worst of every situation.  To illustrate this point I will tell the story of a girl I knew.  She was applying to get a job and had an interview.   I wished her luck, helped her practice the interview questions, and told her she would do great.  He parents, yes her own parents, told her that she probably wouldn’t get the job and not to get her hopes up.  That about sums up their attitude to life.  I guess it is from being such a poor country under the Soviet Unions boot. Being poor might also explain their facination with food.  Where the British greet each other by asking about the weather, Hungarians greet each other by asking how their last meal was or what they are going to eat.  90% of any conversation concerns food.

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Hungarians also seem to have extremely poor decision making skills.  As a country they have been on the wrong side of every war.  Even now they are the most zenophobic country in Europe and the Prime Minister is a complete and utter moron.  But I do give them some credit for the obviously evil Jobbik party not winning, though they did come close.  They seem to refuse to learn English, which is weird and stupid when compared to Poland.  Most poles learn English and take advantage of the EU and go work in the UK.  But as you can guess Hungarians don’t learn English and don’t take advantage of the EU.  Instead they get extremely low paying jobs at home and then complain about it.

So Hungarians are the weirdest people I have ever met.  If food is your enjoyment in this life or you ever feel a need to be surrounded by negativity then I recommend you move to a Hungarian village.  The cost of living is almost nil, so go ahead and do it today.

 

How to Fit in Saudi Arabia

American-Saudi

Being a spy would have suited me as a life calling, as I fit in almost perfectly everywhere I visit. I adapt to different cultures with ease. Only my lack of language skills holds me back.

Being adopted by the Saudis is a very simple feat to accomplish. Given to the fact that they are extremely and genuinely friendly. Always ready to share their food with strangers, give a ride in their car to any in need, and just be helpful in any possible way. A simple showing of understanding the culture, genuine interest in their beliefs, and most importantly, joining them in cafes smoking, eating, and talking, is all that is required.

When I first arrived here the first question was always what religion did I follow, and I had to provide to worst possible answer, as I abhor lying, except when it suits or helps me. Agnostic is not an answer Muslims like to hear. It is a worse answer than Christian, Mormon, or any other religion, except perhaps Jewish. So I would get the usual information and books about the religion and long talks about the Prophet Muhammad and the good that Muslims do. I took no offense to this conversion effort and listened with open ears, as I have done with everyone that tries to convert me. When they finish I thank them for the information, tell them my beliefs and why I don’t follow organized religion, and then state that I would not like to discuss it anymore. So far everyone has honored my request.

The discussions following religion always follow the same line. What do you know about our country and customs and what do you think of them? I would tell what little I know about the customs, and then listen to their explanations and try to see it from their point of view instead of a Western or foreigners point of view. They are protecting their women, not repressing them. They used to be Bedouins and would leave all their trash in the desert and so continue to do it. They hire foreign workers because they can. They drive the Arab way, and not the Westerners way. All these things seem perfectly normal to me.

I told my friend and co-worker, Saud, that I like their clothes. He wasted no time in taking me to a shop and purchasing everything. I do not wear it out when I am by myself but I like to dress as an Arab when I go out with my Saudi friends. And boy how I do fit in. Even the people I live and work with mistake me for an Arab when I wear the Thob.  We go to a cafe at night, smoke the wonderful narghile, eat food and ice cream, drink sugary tea and coffee, and talk. I must take a moment here to say something regarding Arabic coffee. It is the greatest insult to the coffee bean that has ever been devised by man. Burnt orange in color, it smells strongly of spices and tastes absolutely awful. There is no hint of coffee taste in it. Granted that the West has also decided to cover the taste of the coffee bean with caramel, chocolate, vanilla, and other such flavors, but they have not done the injustice to it that the Arabs have done.

The secret of fitting in is not truly a secret at all. It is merely being able to drop your preconceptions and accept the local beliefs and customs. Arabs drive where ever they feel like on a road. On the shoulder, across two lanes, sometimes not even being bothered to look at the road because they are fully involved with their phone. They consistently go through red lights and make left turns across traffic from right lanes. A visitor should expect this and drive following a similar style. Honking a horn and yelling at them whenever they straddle a line, as an American did here a few months ago, is not recommended. His car was shot three times for his troubles. He did not fit in.