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I'm just back home & at the end of a 12-hour news blackout, this is a rushed summary of impressions before I go check some news sites.

So I helped packing & cleaning at a house in the outskirts of Budapest. In the morning when I got there, the city was empty -- I forgot to tell in the diary that Budapest hotels had record low, hotels around Budapest record high reservations.

I ended 3 pm, a bit earlier than planned. So I thought: what the heck, I won't be scared neither by rioters nor by police, and capitalise on the emptied city by going to watch a movie.

I should have suspected something already on the bus: half the passengers wore a dreamy look to their national-colours cockade, like cult followers about to meet their guru. In the metro, even more of them. So is main opposition party Fidesz (right-populist) holding a rally? I figured they must be on a certain main street, so hoped I can just pass them to the cinema I chose.

But when I get out, there were masses of flag-waving people just in the directrion of the cinema. No way to pass between them.  So I circled a block, passing thousands, me being the only one not in national colors. At the edge of the crowd, dozens of sellers of 'national' merchandise. While I circle the block, a pickup truck passed us, with a man shouting from the platform with a megaphone, denouncing Fidesz leader Orbán for not overthrowing the current government. (He got no reply from the crowd.)

But while some far-rightists denounce Fidesz, and no one from this crowd insulted me for lack of national colours, the seamless union of center-right and other parts of the far-right was plain to see: every third flag was the 'Árpád-stripes' flag. This flag used to be a royal flag, but during WWII, the local fascists (the Arrowcrossers) used it, giving a far-right association to it like the Nazis to the Swastika. The far-right, then the 'normal' right began to use it increasingly in the last few years. Many of them protest the far-right association, calling it an old Hungarian symbol only misused by the Arrowcrossers, but please: Hungary is no more a kingdom and it has another flag!

...when I got to the cinema, I got a strong sense of normality and madness existing side-by-side: outside, tens of thousands of flag-waving idiots, inside, the same cosmopolitan artsy people as everyday (only fewer). But The Faun's Labirynth already ran since 15 minutes. So I battled my way across the sidestreets again, to a second cinema, and watched Clint Eastwood's remarquable Letters from Iwo Jima.

Going home, I hopped on a tramway. Which stopped for ten minutes: the far-right motorists' club I wrote about a few times, now apparently counting hundreds of members, zoomed along the cross street with police escort.

A few stations later, what looked like departing protesters hopped on the tram. But still a few stations further, I saw a police cordon, and behind that a few hundred people, the now familiar mix that took part in riots, from skinheads to university student types. And then I see that the guys who hopped onboard a few stations before hopped down, unfurled flags and other paraphelia, and turned out to be football hooligans (another part of said mix).

Then I got on my train and now I'm at home. I'll report what's in the domestic news in an hour.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Mar 15th, 2007 at 02:55:57 PM EST
Scary stuff, DoDo. I should think you're glad to be home.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Mar 15th, 2007 at 04:06:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually, I was surprised at myself how jaded I have became -- or my fellow passengers on the tram.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Mar 15th, 2007 at 04:45:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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