Today is a beautiful sunny Sunday afternoon in Budapest. For the first time since I've lived here, I haven't seen large amounts of snow or ice built up on sidewalks and building rooftops. The weather report says that it might snow a little bit more in the next week but the high temperatures will still be in the mid 40's Fahrenheit, a far cry from the 17 degrees and snowing that I encountered when I first arrived a month ago. It looks like last weekend's casting the coffin of winter into the Danube did it's magic. I can't wait until Spring rolls around for good.
I've been reading a lot of fiction and non-fiction about Hungary and Eastern Europe while in Budapest. Its partially an effort to get myself into the local mood and partially entertainment since I don't have a TV. So far I've finished Enemies of the People by Kati Marton, which I started reading back in America. Its a non-fiction work about her family's life in Budapest in the 1940's and 1950's. Her parents were the last independent Western journalists operating in Hungary and they were both eventually arrested for espionage by the AVO secret police. While in Budapest I also read another book by her, The Great Escape, which has nothing do to with the movie of the same name. It chronicles nine Jewish intellectuals who fled Budapest in the 1920s and 1930s to escape fascism and their impact in their fields in exile. Right now, I'm currently reading Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer. It tells the story of a Jewish-American who comes to Ukraine to find the shtetl where his grandfather lived before the war. I hope once the BSM program is finished to conduct my own journey. I know that I have a distant relative living in Ukraine now. I'd like to visit her and the town where my dad's mom, Sadie, was born in Lithuania. There is a movie of the book which is good, but the book itself tells a much more complex story, woven through 400 years of history. I'm only 50 pages from finishing it and I don't think I'll be able to do any math homework until I do, so I might as well get it out of the way.