There’s no denying that my neighbourhood, Kiraly utca, is moving up in the world. We have the swanky new Central Passage, which doesn’t lead anywhere special, the four star Hotel Carat, and as of last week, the city’s newest, most pompous hotspot (Donatella’s Kitchen), where the lights are made from antlers.

Imagine my surprise then, when on Friday afternoon I stepped out of my front door to find the streets awash with bric-a-brac. It was refreshingly ridiculous - a stained mattress occupied the doorway across from Donatella’s, a doll with a smashed head lay near Hotel Carrot, and a homeless man trundled a rubbish-filled trolley past Central Passage.

It was my district’s first Garbage Throwaway Day for 2008, the twice yearly opportunity for residents to step out of their house into a pile of junk. Chairs, tables, sofas, televisions, bookcases, toilets and planks all lie there, waiting to be snapped up by scavengers or collected by orange-vested men from the city council.

These rubbish festivals last for around thirty-six hours, and as far as I can tell, are an opportunity for people to toss out unwieldy household items, things they might otherwise have had difficulty disposing of. Not that anyone pays too much attention to that... I spied a few things that looked perfectly wieldy… a used nappy, for example, which could have been wielded directly into an upstairs bin. A newspaper from 2005. A torn picture of Roberto Carlos. A Trivial Pursuit board, with a corner missing. A pair of over-exposed family photos. Dolls. Foam. String….

By the second evening, the piles always start to look rather forlorn - only the rubbish rubbish is left, and just the desperate are still digging through it. This Saturday evening on Kiraly, bemused tourists were stepping gingerly over broken glass and around the empty shells of televisions. Rubbish piles stretched up the street, like a series of unlit bonfires.

Then, on Sunday morning, they'd gone, and Garbage Throwaway Day was over for another six months. Call me sour, but I enjoyed this particular one, if only because it succeeded in taking some of our more upmarket neighbours down a peg or two. I'd even say I learnt something this weekend... no matter how you dress yourself up, pretending to be classy/special is a damn sight harder if a fat man is at your front door, beating the crap out of a television.

Andy T.


  1. Uncle Drew said...

    Gritty Budapest is receding but somehow I can't imagine them ever being able to sterilize it completely.

    It would be swell if the people making the decisions would get a clue that a lot of people - Hungarians and foreigners alike - do dig places that are real and imperfect.

    If there were any vision they might even consider dedicating derelict buildings to remain open-air drinking establishments. Certainly they are a draw for visitors to Budapest.

    Uncle Drew - Hungary's podcast  

  2. Anonymous said...

    Hi, I just moved to Budapest on Kiraly/Paulay Ede, in the "swanky" Central Passage indeed. Well, I have to say "Swanky" is no more the right word (except for the price...); it actually does look good until you experience the Passage Club, a genuine deep dive phenomenon... Someone thought that this "swanky" housing complex needed a lame and very loud half-outdoor karaoke/disco place as THE appropriate last touch. Dear readers, you wouldn't believe it, it is as if my bedroom (on the very last floor...) was their main bass speaker... this is now every night until 3am... I am afraid I am bitter, I got indeed profoundly screwed up taking this apartment for a 9-month initial period... So so looking forward to escape! Dear readers, simply avoid this one.


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