Thursday, 13 November 2014

A Trip to Western Civilization: Eger, Hungary





In the series of posts "A trip to Western Civilization" I shall present to your attention some thoughts and feelings of a person (from a small town in the middle of nowhere) who's come to Western Europe for the first time. A brief version in Russian follows the story. 

For those who are still wondering why there are so many Russians/Ukrainians (I really will fail if I try to find a neutral word to describe people from post-Soviet territory) in Europe and yet it is so difficult to get a visa to visit it I will do my best to explain this phenomenon yet I can’t promise you anything because there aren’t many people who know the real reason why it is so. Yet I think I have come to a certain conclusion after our group drove through the western Ukraine and came closer to the border with Hungary. There where we spent about 4 hours of our time and I was enjoying the thought that sooner or later it had to be over; then the inspector came into the bus asking basic questions and checking a couple of bags; and it was really over.  And THEN, … we crossed the border. You will never be able to understand this sensation, children of the West; you have never heard these stories we heard and you didn’t have the history we had; this isn’t good or bad, but I just can’t promise that you will understand the feeling which grows inside of you after you have crossed the border: maybe it is something like waking up on a warm spring morning when the trees are in blossom and you can feel the scent in your bedroom, or rolling down from a hill on a bike or skiing and feeling the fresh air leaving all the past behind; or the sound of the wind in high grass of a huge field when you walk at night – it is very close to these feelings if you take them all together; but it’s stronger. Europe was so deep in crisis that I could only imagine what I would see in the better days, if at that moment of depression the grass along the road was carefully cut, the trees and the lawns were all well-attended, every cow could compete for a star part of the Milka advertisement and crowds of tourists were flooding the earth, the water and the air. I bet you never notice these things when you live in a place like this and I made a promise on that day that I wouldn’t forget what I saw and felt on that day no matter where I lived. Of course I broke that promise on the very next day because I saw more and more beautiful things around me.
First it was in Eger, Hungary. It began from the rural countryside: houses with shutter, fences and flowers. Then as if out of nowhere on the both sides of the road there appeared sandstone walls with caves inside them, which appeared to be wine-cellars. Tens, hundreds of wine-cellars…

The central square of the town was a kind of place which could symbolize the whole Europe: old, catholic, made of greyish stone washed by blood, green from copper and moss, full of the sounds of memories and tolls. Going down the quite streets of Eger you could feel the scent of red wine, petunias and warm stones of the pavement and houses; you could hear some music and voices but it’s all very quiet and calm; a perfect place to be born or to die, but nothing inbetween.
Even when you pass through the park where there are a lot of young people roasting bread on open fire and playing the violin there is still this unbelievable feeling of serenity, a non-stoppable lullaby is surrounding you.  You can’t feel anything else but respect for the people who were saving every stone during the centuries; leaving untouched the mosques even years after the Muslim rule fell, churches in the years when they were forgotten, their culture even in the times when it was suppressed.
So walking down the narrow streets of Eger and understanding the history of the millennium it came to me that there is a reason why it has to be so long and difficult to let us in through the border; leaving behind all economic and political reasons, it comes to you that there is still so much for us to learn, change and understand; and even after that I still don’t feel being good enough and worth of entering the world where respect, labor, tolerance and patience were united together by years of history we should never forget.
На таможне нас продержали 4 часа, и когда мы въехали на венгерскую сторону, мне показалось, что не 4 часа держать нас нужно, а все 4 дня, чтобы мы осознали свое место, свое положение, свое существо. После заброшенных садов Украины за окном мелькали маленькие ухоженные фруктовые деревья, подстриженная трава, чистые обочины. Как бы странно это не прозвучало, но ничто не производит такого впечатления, как "дикие туалеты", которые вполне заслуживают сравнения с некоторыми ванными комнатами в ресторанах Украины. 
Эгер. Первый европейский город, который меня встретил. Несмотря на два дня поезда, день в автобусе и ужасную головную боль... Река, в которой, только вода и камни, от которой нет запаха; а сам воздух наполнен... Просто чистотой. Если католичество погубило тысячи инквизицией, то оно же сумело создать этот менталитет, когда у людей не появляется желание плюнуть на чистую мостовую. Действительно чистую. Не знаю, хорошо ли здесь жить... Этот город хорош, чтобы родиться, влюбиться или умереть, но не для того, что между этим. Спокойствие и красота, традиции и воспоминания города, каждого его камня дарят ощущение настолько сильного счастья, что хочется умереть, это невыносимо прекрасно. Нам никогда до них не достать. Вечером в парке молодежь пьет вино и жарит хлеб на костре, играют на скрипке. Даже не знаю, смогла бы я прочувствовать и понять все это если бы не была одна.

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