December’ Children

A l’ombre des jeunes filles en fleurs

This post is dedicated to the many young girls and boys who no longer have their abode in good old Buda – to be clear: vajjon s mikor lészön jó Budában lakásom?

There is a joint on the Buda side of this town still under Turkish rule after more than four hundred and fifty years of Ottoman occupation.  It is easy to find this place if you wish to contemplate the future and conjure up the past.  Both can be productive endeavours.

The café or pub goes by the name of Murok, and you can find it on Turk Street just off Main Street.  It is not an orthodox Muslim joint as alcohol of great selection is being served here for the evening crowds.  Turkish sherbet, too, is served for the faithful.  Jews who drink booze are also welcome for Hanukah.  They get hot latkes, and on this day only they can pay with Hanukah gelt.  You can light the second Menora candle on this Friday.  There is a schism here, as it always is with these smart Jews, between those who light the second candle adjacent to the first one on the left side and those who light the second one on the opposite right side of the Menora.  These are important traditions.  We see adherents of both lighting methods here.

Folks of the Christian faith are also welcome in this lovely place, why shouldn’t they be, and many of them show up in red or green Christmas jumpers that display a great variety of reindeer and moose.  Trained eyes who have spent a few Decembers in Minnesota can tell the difference.  Reindeer have proportionally greater antlers.  Moose have funnier looks.  The place is packed with Z generation patrons.  The two of us, proud boomers, hardly find a small table with two narrow stools to sit on.  You order by the bar, this time we go for two large cups of mulled wine and a shot of Slivovitz Plum as chaser.  For snacks, besides latkes, they offer porcini paté on toasted bagel.

When you pick up the food, you’ll find, immediately by the wall, two young women playing chess.  They are in the midst of the game.  The white chess army seems to have the advantage.  It is hard to resist not looking and commenting on the possible outcome.  You do notice the women, too; what can we do, they are attractive.  You neither share this observation nor comment what the black team would need to do in order the change the outcome of the game.  It is time to relax and rest your eyes on the tumultuous company at the corner table.  Each person is wearing his or her Christmas jumper, some sit around the table while others are just standing in front of us, sipping beer from the bottle.  Who might they be?  This must be a year-end holiday party of a tech start up, one would first think then on second sight, you want to correct yourself: start-ups do not have such a large staff.  All right, they are finance folks, investment advisors or consultants.  Some may have flown back from London for this weekend.  Others will soon end up there.

Music is being played here in the background, solid instrumental techno, here and then a quiet Taylor Swift or the like.  What you do not have here are Christmas carols and jingle bells jingles.  And painfully, the Boss responsible for music for this evening does not know much of the workings of Start Me Up or Dancing in the Dark.  This music has been forgotten.  So, we are not starting up nor do we start a fire without a spark.  Though there are many bright sparks around.  They make a grown man cry.

The young women, the music notwithstanding, are just getting started, they do, indeed, make a grown man cry.  We are still far from dancing in the dark.  They are very alert, explain, argue, show lots of emotion, express a desire to enjoy this evening.  It is plain for any observer of life in the fast lane that they are going to end up with an eventful evening – no matter what the event will be.

A couple on the makeshift mezzanine seems to be less up-beat.  They just sit face to face, move hug to hug, try to comfort each other about something that may easily be an it’s all over now.  Things like this happen my friends, and no one can direct them not to happen on these festive days.  Yes, there are sad cafés.

When you pick up the second stinger (the same plum brandy), the chess game is over, the girl leading the white team secured the victory.  There will be no rematch today.  Nor would the victorious player offer a simultaneous play for the grown men in this pub.  The Black and White players need to go to another party.

The Murok coffee

As the evening goes by magic works here for each generation.  Apparitions appear, they come and go, melting in the air, young girls en fleur become grandmas, there is a sense that somehow today we will find old times perdues.  The sisters of mercy arrive a bit late, as usual, they buried the hatchet for today and will play the next chess game by the wall.  Three witches walk off the wall and prophesize with live apparitions for those who can read their clues.  Their rendition of the future is not very encouraging.  But who said these ugly witches cannot be wrong.

Surely, just around 10:00 pm there is a sense in this joint that anything could come tomorrow or even today.  These young folks in their red and green uniforms, together with all reindeer and moose, may start their revolt against their lot in this world outside Murok.  And then they might march through the bridge to the other side of this town where they would demand that all their demands should be met.  December is just as good timing for a healthy revolt as any summer month for expressing our displeasure: we’re not gonna take it (never did and never will).  Well, that is what they sing.  One may just add that we’re gonna break it, gonna shake it, let’s forget it better still.

At this point one boomer tells the other: they do not need us for the ensuing skirmish, we will read about this Decembrist Revolt on Meta’s Facebook or You Know Whose Twitter tomorrow.

Let’s just call it a day here, says the other boomer.  Fine, says the first one: let’s rip this joint.

Andras I. Hanak

PS.  The revolt failed this time.  But there is always a tomorrow – who knows, in March, July or October?  Any time will do.


  1. I have not seen dylan at party – i may have been overly consumed, as always, with the sisters.

    Ha ha

    ps. hate to prophesize: 2024 will be a nasty leap year.

  2. Lovely description including your not so subtle references to Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen.
    Happy holidays to our dear editor/publisher! Peace on earth and hope for change in Hungary.

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