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Global Domination

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Monday, October 27

Hungry in Budapest

I could have been the told pun-meister and said I was hungry in Hungary, which I was. After leaving the plane, I took a taxi directly to the hotel. I had been given the number of a local taxi firm and I called them from the baggage collection - they sent car 582, I'll never forget him - to pick me up and the two of us shared a particular boring journey from the airport to the centre of Budapest. There was one moment that we shared, when a driver did a spectacular u-turn across a lane of oncoming traffic to join the opposite carriageway. Though I'm not sure exactly how much of a common language me and the taxi-driver shared, we certainly knew how to express ourselves in response to that particular move. We did some general manly chuffing, chuckling and expressing a sense of self-righteous responsibility to cover a general sense of "wow, that was a pretty cool move".

At the hotel, I checked in, got to my room and discovered that I would have to behave confusingly. I had a huge bag with me, obviously my suitcase, and a small bag. Most people would leave the big bag in their room and wander off with the small one. Oh no, not me. Life can't be that simple. I removed a few clothes from my big bag, leaving the huge payload of electronic stuff I'd brought with me, and then transferred my laptop into it and headed back out. That's how I do it buddy. I'm like the u-turning driver. I'm a maverick. I'm also the sort of guy who doesn't know where the cash point is. I had to ask at reception. While I was there I also confirmed my orientation for the route to the office where I would be spending the rest of the day and also the rest of the week.

Well, lucky me, the ATM is in the opposite direction to the office. So I headed off in search of it. I found one, but it was out of order. I foolishly continued lugging a great big bag down the road for a further 10 or so minutes. Then I decided that I'd had enough, retraced my steps, sweated a lot and got myself over to the office. It was, of course, after lunchtime when I arrived. It was about 1.45 uk time. Oh how the time flies.

The Starbucks based breakfast and food on the flight had been a long time ago, and since then there'd been the taxi ride, a couple of hours of rather concentrated working on the plane (I know! apparently I can go through my to-do list and my notes and create a single sheet of A4 that could change the world). No more food, though. That hadn't happened.

A few not-quite-contented hours were spent in the office trying to get work done, getting some work done, and generally sharing my world view with the team. I think they humoured me suitably. Then I headed back to the hotel. The hotel is actually only a few minutes from the office, even fewer minutes when your case has been emptied of the boxes of circuit boards that you've been schlepping around with you.

Some people, having not eaten in a while, would go straight for the food, I was programmius interruptus, though. I'd been working on a bit of code for a few programming hours and I hadn't quite reached the completion of this code. Looking back, if I may, I'd have to admit that I overcooked it a bit. Still, I didn't overcook it all that much, and the code I wrote has the potential to be reused further... ah... famous last words. The potential. Will it ever be? Well, maybe not, but it illustrates quite a good separation of concerns... at this point, all non-programmers reading this should have switched off. I'll go back to stuff about food.

I did some work. That's the point I was trying to make. Then I, tired and ready to collapse, headed out looking for food. I had a certain sense of trepidation about going to look for food. Not only did I not know what food I wanted, I didn't really have any strong idea of whether I would be able to communicate with the people serving it. In the end, I wandered about 3 minutes until I saw something which in the UK would be called a Pizza Express. I went in, ordered some tepid soup and a concise portion of chicken (or at least you'd think I did from what they delivered) and ate it in silence, occasionally texting on my phone.

That was that, apart from a minor trip to the garage to see if I could get diet coke and some naughty crisps and the answer was yes.

The thing about being in a strange land is that you really have to guess even the most simple of things. Nothing seems quite familiar. Do you buy the coke inside the garage, even though it's in the fridge outside? Or is the fridge outside the domain of one of the men who stand on the forecourt? - are they going to demand the money, which is in a currency that's 340 to the pound which makes all conversations a bit brain melting? It's a bit of a muddler.

I heard somewhere about depression and stress. The theory that was espoused was this. If something is hard or bad, there are two coping strategies you can use: problem solving and learning to live with it. The problem and dysfunction can arise when you either always favour one strategy, or cannot choose the correct strategy for the situation. So, tonight, I was feeling a bit tired and fish-out-of-water-ish (which is a nice expression, much like the "I've got a bee in my bonnet" expression, which I tried to explain to my hungarian colleagues) and hungry. I could have coped with the hunger and stayed in. I could, alternatively, have tried to work out a way of getting food into my stomach. Given that I was in a hotel with a restaurant, and in a capital city where an international customer is catered for, I think learning to live with the hunger would have been a dysfunctional approach. Conversely, if I were a prisoner of war in a mongolian death camp (do such things exist? I doubt it), then perhaps going out to search for food would be equally dysfunctional.

All I'm saying is that I got some food, even though I felt a bit lonely and tired while I was doing it. It all bodes well for trying to go to see the Queen concert tomorrow night (joke, though they are playing here and I saw one of their posters just as I was pondering whether there might be a show I could see... then the poster went - Queen, tomorrow, here - and I was like "oooooh").

I'm not hungry now.

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