Porn, Pálinka, Nazis: This Is Hungary

If you ask any random person what he/she knows about Hungary – and yes, please let’s suppose that this person can place this teeny-tiny country on an approximate map of Europe – most likely you will hear the following holy trinity: porn, strong spirits and Nazis (if you also hear “dictator” than you must have picked a very well informed person).

  1. Porn: Indeed, besides Prague, Budapest is a huge porn hub in the region and even the richest man in the country is THE local porn king, György Gattyán (accoring to Forbes 2014), so I guess it does not need any further explanations about decadence.
  2. Pálinka: Strong booze: well, yeah, pálinka is the most popular hard liqueur here, but not just any old type; the best is always the home-made version. According to new home brewing laws, you are even allowed to brew 84 litres (!) (147,8 pints) of pálinka at 50% alcohol, without taxation.
  3. Nazis: For those who don’t know, our prime minister is the deeply respected Mr. Viktor Orbán, who became famous (or rather notorious) during the migrant crisis due to his extremely intolerant and xenophobic views. His ideas are very much in harmony with the politics of Marine Le Pen and apparently he should have trade marked his speeches and program, because the new Polish prime minister actually copy-pasted them. But this guy doesn’t even represent our extreme right wing- he is only a national conservative! So not to be mistaken with Jobbik, who are the radical nationalists. Imagine those guys!

Let’s drop politics though. I would rather give you a still life of everyday Hungary, with the atmosphere and the way people feel here.

One of the nicest things I ever heard about Budapest from a foreigner was that the city is full of so-called “what the fuck?!-moments”. I did not quite get it right away but after some contemplation it became clear to me why: people are fucking mental here, and usually it all happens in public and during the day. Someone is always shit-faced and trying to fight, while in the background some low-life guy is urinating at a tram stop, some old rural-looking lady is trying to sell you flowers and in the meantime you’re being forced into signing yet another petition about the upcoming manifestations.

I always had the feeling that here the concentration of crazy/mentally disturbed people was extremely high. We have lunatics all over town who are constantly talking to themselves, screaming or just casually swearing in an astonishingly poetic way. Usually you can spot them on trams- for some reason this is their preferred means of transportation. High suicide rates and psychological illnesses are very common, with a high consumption of legal psychotics (Xanax is the most preferred one that any doctor throws at you if you’re feeling down for whatever reason). According to a recent forecast we might have approximately 1 million alcoholics in a few years, which is pretty insane for a country of 10 million. So if we suppose that kids don’t drink then pretty much every family is impacted by at least one alcoholic.

One of the other fascinating fun facts is the amount of guys flashing their genitalia in public. I think almost everyone has already had some experience with them (even my mom) which is first shocking but then you simply become aware of their existence, even hoping to see one because it is so twisted and absurd that you start liking this colourful spot on the country’s landscape. During my university years one precious flasher used to live on our street and he loved hanging out at his basement window.

He could hear your footsteps, so he positioned himself so that you would have the perfect viewing angle. The poor thing even had a desk lamp directed at his cock. To make this picture even more insane, at the window next to the flasher’s room, a very decent-looking old man would be sitting there, reading. Once I also saw a homeless-looking guy jacking off on the metro while browsing Playboy. He also had a bag of sandwiches with him. He was very quickly thrown out by security, but imagine the face on the passenger who took the guy’s seat after him, an open Playboy magazine and sandwiches welcoming them:“I see it must have been a great party here!”

My boyfriend is a foreigner here and he is always amazed by those small unimportant details on the street that no local would ever notice, because this is how things are. He discovered the existence of a certain “Pálinka Hulk” – or at least how he named this phenomenon – someone who drinks a whole bottle of cheap spirits then tears off walls, knocks out phone boxes or just simply damages whatever is closest to him then he leaves his empty bottle at the crime scene. But really, there is always an empty shitdrink right next to some tragic scene of misery or just the regular scenes of destruction that no one gives a fuck about.

About swearing…Swearing is a style, it is much more here than some low life screaming about God, shit and fuck, it is so eloquent that it is rather poetic. Seriously, who would not be moved by expressions like “Get fucked to death by lightning by sulphuric stones!”“You, rotten sperm!” or “May the reed cutting God rot the foot-smelling sky upon you!”, etc!? One of the most amazing facts about the Hungarian language is that you can express literally everything with the verb “fuck”. You just need to know some conjugation and a bunch of prefixes then you have already tripled your vocabulary. So basically you just say ‘to fuck in’ (get drunk), ‘fuck out’ (to throw out/to build muscles/to screw someone over), ‘fuck up’ (to piss off/to put something up), ‘fuck down’ (to tell someone off/to scold), ‘fuck away’ (to screw up) and so on and so on.

But despite all this insanity, let’s also admit that Hungary has given a lot to the world, had its decent share of inventions and contributions to the artistic and scientific scenes. Amongst many others: Vitamin C, security matches, ballpoint pens, holography, carriage coaches, carburettors for stationary engines and helicopters are all Hungarian inventions. And of course, the Pálinka Hulk. Pity, with Hungarian swear words being some of the most innovative, the swear jar isn’t among that list of inventions..