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Saturday, 30 April 2011 10:13

Chernobyl Commemorated

The sun was shining on Gendarmenmarkt as we approached the French Dom (cathedral). We were supposed to be at the commemoration ceremony at 1pm, but when we got there we were told that the ceremony would not start until 2pm. The extra time gave me the opportunity to look at who, apart from the organised group, had decided to spend the afternoon commemorating the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl tragedy instead of being in a park with friends and a barbeque.

We were definitely the youngest ones there. 40 students out of around 170 people in the Dom; I would have guessed the average age to be around 60. Many of the older people had to support themselves with canes or were in wheelchairs. They were "time witnesses" - people who themselves had had their lives changed by the catastrophe 25 years ago. Some of them looked like they were suffering from medical conditions, perhaps a legacy of their brief experience of Chernobyl, but I cannot tell for sure. Nevertheless, they were all dressed up, and it was clear that this moment was important for them.

Published in Live from Eustory
Sunday, 20 February 2011 13:19

The coffee is indescribable....

"The coffee is indescribable.... but it gets you through the day."

Sitting here on a balcony blogging in the morning, I look out to the river Danube, and want to claim that I've invented a new term for our growing 'European' English dictionary. (If such a thing exists, Chris...)

My new term - 'Conference mentality' - is the 'I'll sleep when I'm dead' attitude to conferences - when you experience the night life with young Europeans till the early hours, (have YOU ever seen Hungarian Karaoke....?) but are still the first person up for breakfast so you can talk about EU policy with the older, more mature participants. My gravelly voice and empty coffee cup suggests that I have the 'mentality' in abundance...

Last night we went into Budapest. Through a small gate and old courtyard near the main train station there is what seems to be an old wine cellar. It was in fact a vibrant local bar with live music of swirling melodies and heavy rhythm. The Dav Trio, a local band from Budapest, were playing and if I wrote their email address down correctly, they should be making an appearance on our new music blog soon...

Today we're focussing on the promises for the Landau convention in May. High ambitions are in the air and people have come up with many innovative ideas to involve the local population in the week's proceedings. Just one example is a 'living library' where people are the books and volunteer to tell their stories and discuss in groups. I make a short speech on E&M's role as media partner, perhaps its just my tiredness, but it all suddenly seems to be a lot of responsibility for the team we send out there...

Never mind, of more pressing concern is to venture out of the European centre and enter Europe proper... I'm heading into the centre of town, capturing some photos for the Sixth Sense, and meeting Tina from EUSTORY to share a coffee in the Heroes Square.

Which reminds me: the coffee is still indescribable, but it's getting me through the day.

Published in Live in Budapest
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