Tuesday, June 24, 2008

In which Chotu Motu go see Stalin's boots in Budapest

People, another Bill post. Well, I had to rewrite parts but its mostly Bill.

Budapest. Day Two. Bill is diligently reading city guide.

"Ha, this guidebook is funny"

"I will let the LP people know"

"I mean seriously. They have these random things that they claim we have to see. Something about the relics of communism in a field somewhere"

"What is funny about that?"

"Apparently they took all big big "monuments" from their Communist days and stuck them all somewhere outside town and now people go there and pay to see these things"

"What, where? Let's go!"

"It's too far. And doesn't sound like there's much to see"

"Okay, lets not go then"

"Why not? There is a special tourist bus that will take us there"

"I thought you said there's nothing much to see"

"Yeah. Well. Not like we have hajjar other things to do. Besides don't you want to see this?"

"I do. But just wanted to make sure you do too. Because I know how you will spin this later"

"I am not evil like you"

"Yeah right. Where is this bus?"

The one tourist bus had already left from Deak Ter. But as you all know it takes a lot more than a silly tourist bus to make our intrepid travellers give up on Communist relics.

"We can take public transport. Lets go ask the bus station"

"How good is your Magyar?"


"So the place is an hour away, and requires three changes of bus to get there. Why are we going there again?"

"People's transport to see the peoples' relics. It's so appropriate."

"Yeah, yeah, you card-carrier. I'm sure this is some kind of pilgrimage to you."

"Yeah, Sabarimala only this is for me. And who you calling card-carrier?"

"You only. You and your family card-carrier"

"I come from a family of large land owners. Trust me, if anyone's family is Communist here, its surely not mine"

"Yeah yeah"

"Well, I am not the one here who is related to Olof Palme"

"Olof Palme is no Communist"

"I know. But how are you related to Olof Palme?"

"I am not related to Olof Palme"

"If you say so. Anyway, my grandfather did not head the Communist part of Britain"

"Mine neither. Rajani Palme is from some long lost branch of family that no one knows about"

"Nonsense. Your aunt in Stockholm told me all about your family's past. Come on Billster, embrace your roots"

"Go away"

"I will. Here's the bus"


Which is how we ended up trudging up the hill to Memento park. (Chotu Motu being Chotu Motu promptly got down one stop before the Park and had to walk) Sort of like going to Tirupati, except there are no crowds. Only some picnickers, enthusiastic American tourists, and of course card-carrying people from Bamse's own land.

The top of the hill is an enclosed park, with cars whizzing by outside. Next to the motorway are the imposing boots of Stalin, announcing the beginning of the park. These tower over the onlookers, giving a sense of how big the entire statue would have been, before the students took an axe to it in 1956.

Next to a statue of Lenin looking very solemn and wise is the ticket seller. There's also a souvenir shop, selling T-shirts advertising the "3 terrors" (Mao, Stalin and Lenin). All very capitalist, making money off communist relics by converting it to a show.

As we enter, there's a Trabant standing alone in a field. Looks remarkably well-preserved, for a people's car that was synonymous with cheap and unreliable construction.

Then there are statues of workers announcing victory, and some farmers standing tall with pride. There's a whole section of forgotten men, Russian and Hungarian party workers and leaders. And of course, some who are not forgotten, at least in some parts of the world.

(Aside. Feanor: Doesn't this last but one picture remind you of the one you shot near Temple? Connected, you reckon?)

"Hey look, there's the bearded men! Both Marx and Engels, together. Quick, take a photo"

"For when you are standing for elections? That picture is worth a thousand votes"

"Exactly. Don't you want one too, when you are standing in Bengal elections?"

"I don't plan to stand for elections in Bengal. Or anywhere"

"But we need picture of you with this big, strong chap here"


"How will I win election then? If you are not there to show support"

"Bill showing support actually doesn't work that well. Ask Hillary"

"It works in Malluland. Especially when Bill is from Bengal"

"Yeah yeah, we know that's why you married me"

"Of course"


No, not the End yet. It does not end until a couple of shots are downed. All pictures taken, red stars on the garden duly noted, we took the buses back to the city. We stepped out of the last bus back on Deak.

"Dude, look at that: Festival of the Hungarian Spirit"

"Hmm, sounds like something that would have been home in the Memento Park. Workers of Hungary, unite"

"Maybe they will have some good folk dance and music. Let's go!"

Turned out they meant Hungarian spirit in the literal sense, being Palinka, the local schnapps. Our workers from Kerala and Bengal had appropriately heady shots. Viva Liberty!


Bamse said...

What? A secret Olof Palme heritage! How come I don't know about this?


Tabula Rasa said...

ah, palinka!

Veena said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Veena said...

Bamse: Secret alright. Bill's been hiding this from all of us. I know this only cos of his talkative aunt in Stockholm. Long story but the deal is one of our man's great grand uncles from Kalima-land moved to Britian and married Swedish woman named Palme (who obv is related to ole' Olof). Their son went on become major dude in the Party infamous for being a Stalin apologist among other things. Who would have thought, no?

TR: Ah, yes Palinka. Good stuff, no? Could do with the apricot flavoured one right now.

blackmamba said...

Sort of like going to Tirupati,

wow! would have never guessed you were a believer!...

ps: did you buy any of those tees?

Veena said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Veena said...

BM: I am assuming you are asking Bill. I'd never spell it as Tirupati. Didn't you and Bill have some deep conversation long ago and you decided that he is a believer (in more things than one)? The only one other than his parents to believe that, but well.

No, no tees. Some of them were cool though.

Fëanor said...

Good grief - the Temple barristers dropped the ball and the commies picked it up, eh?

I guess Bill's chest swells with pride every time he goes to Delhi? There's a portion of the Ring Road named after his Swedish relative.

Veena said...

Feanor: Looks like it, no?

Oh yes. Especially as Olof Palme Marg intersects Vivekanada marg!