March 26, 2016
We are home at long last! After six weeks in Hungary we are back home on the farm in Delhi, NY. Every day has been a continuos inseparable experience in Hungary. Pumis, family, friends, food, alcohol, melancholy, nostalgia, literature, religion, political discontent and the dreaded central European toilet bowl…- essential attributes of Central-European existentialism.
I’ve spent six weeks in Europe, mostly in Hungary where I’ve traveled all over the country to see groomers, breeders and their Pumis. I also had a quick trip to Austria and a short stop in Helsinki, Finland.
We were also invited to a Pumi Club party/meeting, where current changes in the law affecting breeders of Hungarian native dog breeds have been discussed along Club life, activities and delegation of responsibilities. For Hungarian women, the work place, formal organizations and even everyday life in general still offers different experiences and less opportunities than for men in Hungary. To summarize my experience, the food was great while club business and female membership are still incompatible today.
Dog shows are reflections of the existing power struggles of the opposing Hungarian Pumi parties. According to rumors oppositions have slowly been eroding however. The word is out that more people are considering to join the official club – after all common sense might prevail in the interest of the breed.
Undoubtedly, Hungary remains the Mecca of the Pumi, even though, dog culture and breeding practices could use a bit of update and a few gallons of fresh paint. The good news is that changes are coming along thanks to the Hungarian Pumi Club’s (Magyar Pumi Klub) efforts. Health testing is becoming more frequent, the registered breeding stock is managed better through frequent breeding stock review, including essential temperament tests. The number of breeders who take responsibility and health test their dogs are slowly increasing. What is ironic however is that many who still refuse to test their own dogs, demand to see test results from breeders who have done the health tests. hypocrisy at its best…!
For Hungarians, life is well greased with bacon, smoked with cigarettes and wetted with Palinka in Hungary. Vegetables and fruits are expensive and not integral part of Hungarian diet. Meat, cured salami, smoked sausage, lard, alcohol and high blood pressure overwhelms everyday folks’ lives. Heart attack is the most frequent killer of Hungarians. What further complicates the story is that unfortunately, any ambulance can be easily redirected from hospital to hospital while the patient is dying of a heart attack in the ambulance due to serious shortage of doctors. Medical professionals are severely under paid and probably the exodus of doctors from Hungary is the second largest human migration in Europe beside the current middle eastern refugee crisis.
Hungarian politics is authoritarian and it is in close alliance with Putin’s Russia. Corruption is rampant in many aspects of life. Politicians are like feudal overlords who buy land below market price and abuse power. Opposing voices are often intimidated and muted. The last tele news I watched in Hungary has secretly followed the trail of a big chunk of money recently appropriated by the EU to investigate government corruption in Hungary. The news story revealed that the money has been embezzled by those government agencies and politicians who should have been investigated for alleged corruptions.
Regardless, Hungary is still a fascinating country that you must put on your bucket list to visit. It is a beautiful place, with welcoming people, lots of Pumis, fantastic architecture, endless history and great cultural and culinary traditions. Also, is still relatively inexpensive.
But remember, when visiting Hungary and Central Europe, always be on the alert. The region has always been an exciting, however a complex place that often surprises visitors. Hungarians like other nations in the area are absorbed by existentialism that is present in every aspect of life and sometimes can be overbearing. It can also appear in the least expected context like the often discussed “shelf modeled toilet…” But I guess, these are some of the things that makes Hungary and Central Europe authentic and different from the rest of the world and also why we all like to go there.
CLICK HERE ——> http://youtu.be/RIDbKXnfDJk
to be continued….