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Wednesday, October 29

Mid Week

This is now the third day of my trip to Budapest. I am making the mistakes I always make when I am immersed in another culture. Firstly, I have stopped talking in natural English speech patterns, and I am, instead, using repetitive simplified phrases (occasionally with more complicated vocabulary in) with pauses between the phrases for thought processing. Secondly, I have stopped even imagining that I need to know anything about the language and culture of the place I am in, assuming that either I'll get by, or go without any form of understanding of what's going on.

This is English arrogance at its best/worst. It's also about delegation. Where I am immersed in non-English-speaking culture, I appear to have a friendly native to help me, in the form of one of my work colleagues. In addition to the help, I think the immersion is also giving me an appreciation of the qualities (good) of the people I am working with and I am having a nice time, albeit one which is far from home.

Perhaps I should be a fish out of water, but I've decided to pretty much ignore the definition of water in this metaphoric case. And fish.

I have been trying, at least, to avoid mistake number 3 that English people make when they go abroad, which is to try to recreate the home culture in a foreign country. What's the point of trying to eat English as well as act and speak it? At breakfast today, I'll admit it, I had something vaguely resembling a continental breakfast - this is more desirable for breakfast than a Continental tyre, which was not on offer and I only mention it because it has a similar name and I'm drunk as I write this. However, at lunch, we had the set menu at a small and fairly inexpensive Hungarian cafe. Additionally, over dinner tonight, I asked my colleagues to help me choose that on the menu that was the most typically Hungarian.

I can't tell you the name of what I ate, but it was very nice and I am confused about the people who have reported to me that they found Hungarian food to be bland. It has been very pleasant indeed. Very pleasant.

An interesting side effect of the current climate is that the food I've eaten is actually rising in value (in pound terms) at the same time (and possibly same rate) as I am digesting it. As far as I can tell, the choice of converting some of my pounds to Hungarian Forints has been a sound business investment, and I will be richer when I convert it back. Or something like that.

In non work related news, I'm still working on selling my house and managed something of a decision with the aid of the estate agent. This is a tricky climate in which to be trading anything, except, perhaps, charm. I should imagine that the start of November will be somewhat tricky as I have myriad objectives to complete and increasingly less (is that even possible) time in which to achieve it. The end of the year is racing towards us, and I'm not sure if I'm ready for it.

Time will tell.

It is now almost exactly ten years since I first bought the house in Newcastle that I'm trying to sell. I think I moved in on October 25th or some such. There have been a lot of changes in my life. I suppose I could look back on the last ten years, but now is not the time. Perhaps I should schedule some sort of major 2008 retrospective for the mid-end of December. This has certainly been one hell of a year and so much better than last year for me. So much better. I am a lot happier and I feel like my life, home, and job all have some sort of purpose. It has certainly been stimulating for me, and I am at the stage, at the moment, where an increase in pressure seems to be motivating me step by step, rather than sinking me.

We shall see. In this climate, anything could happen. Anything at all.

I liked telling the story, in yesterday's blog entry, of the little software demonstration I gave, with my arms trapped in a lab coat. This was a story that I had forgotten. I have been sharing various battle stories with people recently, and it is these stories which give life a certain shape. Whether it's the tale of making a broomstick into a microphone stand, or the tale of going back to the office late at night to save the the world, or a story of sitting in the middle of nowhere waiting for a breakdown man while two of my friends, who were not driving (obviously) shared beers and bonded, having never met before. All of these tales are part of what makes each person's life and history a unique and fascinating entity, even if only fascinating for the presence of detail if not for the nature of the details themselves.

Who cares, other than me and maybe one or two others, if the best opening line for a comedy set could be "Does anyone have a distributor cap for a 1990 Volvo 440?". Who even knows how to punctuate the last sentence? Do the questions inside the quotation marks, when the whole sentence is also a question, require a second question mark? It's a mystery. Ask me about apostrophes, I'm good with them.

Life is what you make it, but I don't mean that you have control over what external factors change the course of your life, only that you have control over how you choose to view your journey through the few years you're on the planet. Perhaps there's no such thing as free will and we all actually react in a way which is chaotic, but predictable mathematically, should you be able to model the entire universe in a computer. Who knows, maybe this world is nothing more than just that - a computer simulation of a universe. How would any entities in such a simulation ever know otherwise? How would anyone outside the simulator ever observe behaviour inside of it? It's nonsense and the subject for science fiction, not this blog. However, there are some immutably human experiences which we can enjoy if we choose to expose ourselves to the enjoyment of them. It does not matter whether we are here for a reason, or whether you attribute a description to these experiences that is spiritual, logical, or just circumstantial. Life is what you make of it.

I like the current experiences I'm having. I can take bad news on the chin (today's house sale news wasn't exactly brimming with good fortune). I can take good news in good spirits too. I can enjoy the process of having a tricky meeting, or the process of home development, or the feelings of being far removed from what I consider to be home. I can do all of this because I am either lucky to have a basically cushy existence, or because I have developed the skills to make my existence feel pretty cushy. I don' t know. It doesn't matter. I am having a good time here.

This is how an October ought to end.

Screw you 2007! 2008 rocks!

Yes. This is definitely a Wednesday night after a great big meal and a few too many cheeky beers and Palinkas.


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