As I’m preparing to leave for a short trip to Hungary – to experience the Paprika Days in Kalocsa for ChiliCult – I’m reminded of a thought that came up in my prior writing about being at home in a place: the thought, that is, of our being like tourists on this world not only when we seek to be super-homeless (a.k.a. location independent), but even when we live in a place without paying much attention to it.
There is, however, a nature in and around it. A climate, weather patterns, seasonal cycles. Birds and other animals that pass through or stay – and some changes to how it used to be some years ago. Yes, time passes.
They say that you shouldn’t go running along the same paths all the time; it gets too boring. It doesn’t, I find. After all, it makes a difference whether I see the fireworks on New Year’s Eve or tracks in the snow, experience spring rain or summer heat, see plants’ buds get bigger or fruits that fall…
There is a history to it, too. The thought of the unknown home surfaced so strongly because I have only been to Hungary once before – and it was still Communist, Soviet-controlled, then (as far as that could ever be said for Hungary).
However, the very East of Austria where I once again live (and grew up, but wasn’t born) used to be a part of Hungary all through the time of the Austro-Hungarian Empire – and if you count it in terms of bioregions and cultural regions, it was a part of the East even in the times of the Romans.
The roots of this village thus lie somewhere other than where it now politically belongs. And given that Croatian settlers were moved here, the population itself had other roots again. More rarely now, but sometimes, you still hear older people converse in Croatian…
When I was younger, I was sometimes treated as a stranger for not having been born here. By now, nobody bats an eyelid at my wife being Chinese… and as I learnt, around 1900, there used to be a Croatian, a Hungarian, and a German school here.
Thus, things change – and don’t.
Human life continues to be about what it’s always been about: learning something, making a living, having a family, seeking some measure of happiness.
Looking into history, and if it’s only to what things were like during the time of grandparents and great-grandparents, puts a lot of the context, now and then, into a different perspective, though.