25 May 2007

Dancing to BBC World

It's been an intensively social week back in Budapest, so much so that I am in some ways looking forward to travelling to the alcohol-free environment of Qatar tomorrow. In keeping with Nomadicity's strict policy of protecting the guilty through the use of nicknames, each of the numerous people I have been sharing thoughts, space and beer with over the past few days has been assigned a nickname, using Nomadicity's unique nickname generating methodology. In order to keep real world identities secure, and to prevent readers of Nomadicity from illegally profiting from information that might be used for inside trading purposes, this methodology employs a unique and powerful randomisation engine. How this works in practice is that after a random number of beers, I randomly ask someone who happens to be sitting nearby to randomly suggest nicknames for themselves and the others at the table. In this case, I was sitting at Bar Ellato -- my favourite in Budapest -- with a friend who designated himself "Akido Monkey" and then unhesitatingly declared the others to be named C3PO, Jaba the Hut, Han Solo and Adri. (Actually, he wanted Adri to be named R2D2, but C3PO insisted she already had the nickname "Adri", so why mess with it?). You might think from this response that Akido Monkey is some sort of nerdy Star Wars freak, but in fact, it's simply that he is a Scotsman with a somewhat limited imagination, and he was probably remembering those names from the commemorative glass he picked up at a Glasgow McDonalds 3 years ago that has since become a treasured possession. He undoubtedly used that glass earlier that day to serve himself a bracing belt of 18-year-old Glengoyne, inadvertently imprinting those names into his short term memory in the process, and they popped out of his consciousness again when prompted by me for suggestions.

C3Po is the latest in a series of petite women who have decided to take on the not insignificant challenge of being Akido Monkey's girlfriend. In exchange, Akido Monkey teaches her Akido self-defence techniques and English. Adri is C3PO's best friend, and both of them are prime examples of why Akido Monkey and Jaba the Hut decided to move to Budapest. That night in Ellato I asked a group of male expatriates "Why Hungary"? The instantaneous consensus response was "the women." Nobody seemed to think the food was particularly good, although "climate" came in a distant second. Apparently, I am the only foreigner in Hungary who would like to move there because of the national internet domain name, ".hu", which -- as far as I am aware -- is the only country domain that sounds like a sneeze when you say it, and thereby prompting others to say "bless you" every time you finish pronouncing your email address.

9 out of 10 expatriates polled believe "Hungarian women" are the best reason to live in Hungary (the 10th has since been demostrated to be clinically brain-dead and very possibly gay as well). Nomadicity plans to explore this issue further through a series of in-depth research projects.

All this fun was having a profoundly negative impact on my productivity. Sunday I spent mostly recovering from Saturday. Monday I managed to get a bit of work done, but Monday night found me back at Ellato, and Tuesday was another lost cause. Wednesday I managed to get a bit done, and then went to an excercise class led by a former ballet instructor named Zsolt, a powerful but compact trainer with almost no body fat and even less body hair (or head hair, for that matter). After the class, I was feeling pretty good (despite Zsolt's comment to me during the class that "I think you do not dance, no? Am I right?") and feeling optimistic that I could finally catch up on some of my work the next day. Then Akido Monkey suggested we go to Ellato "just for one drink."

I don't recall every detail of the next 9 hours, but the evening ended with four of us back in Akido Monkey's flat, polishing off his supply of Russian vodka and Scotch whiskey, and dancing on the hardwood floor as the sky was growing light. Actually, I'm not sure if C3PO agreed that what I was doing could properly be called "dancing", as she noted with some amusement that I have "completely no rhythm," and "I think you do not dance, no?" Gypsy-blooded girls like C3PO go through life in time with a powerful internal beat that carries on even when the music stops playing. She had proved this a couple days earlier when she and Akido Monkey demonstrated their ability to dance to a BBC World news cast.

Fortunately for me, Akido Monkey made the spontaneous decision to depart for Croatia early the next morning (in other words, about an hour after we finally went to sleep) with JtH and Han Solo. I didn't get out of bed until about 14:00, and spent the rest of the day nursing a terrible hangover. I went to bed early and this morning was up at 5:00 and have since spent 12 highly productive hours finishing off the Mexico project and a few other loose ends. Or maybe they were simply "productive," rather than "highly productive." It was a welcome distraction from my work when Adri and C3PO joined me for a final drink in Budapest earlier this evening, but Akido Monkey -- being a rather clever monkey -- discovered how he could be almost as disruptive remotely as he could in Budapest by finding an internet café in Split and -- not having anything better to do -- spending a few hours drinking expresso and sending me annoying messages via Skype. I do have to credit him for the fact that I now know how to make "mooning," "puking," "swearing," "middle finger salute," and other socially dodgy emoticons on Skype thanks to this interchange, a skill I will of course rush to add to my CV and make a point of highlighting during my next job interview. All concerned also agree that Wednesday night's drunken fiasco was entirely Akido Monkey's fault. Tomorrow I'm off to Doha, in Qatar, for a new project and possibly a new life.

As I suspected would eventually happen when I made the decision to start this blog without having sorted out my own nickname, I am pleased to announce that inspiration has struck, and that I will henceforth being signing off under the moniker "BlognDog." I have no explanation to offer for this choice, but am thoroughly pleased with it for a number of linguistic, cultural and personal reasons, including the fact that I think it has a nice rhythm to it when articulated. Not that I'm any sort of expert on such things.

25 May 2007

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