Friday, September 24, 2010

"It's not only enough to be Hungarian. One must also have talent"

The name Bartok struck me when I was listening to the music tape sent from my New York friend. I loved his Violin Concertos which are unique and different and wondered where he was born. He was a Hungarian, although he immigrated to the U.S.

I saw photographs of Robert Capa. His real name was Friedmann, a Hungarian. Then one day I saw Andrew Grove, President of Intel in San Diego. I read his memoir Swimming Across and found he was Grof Andras Istvan, a Hungarian. Upon returning to Japan, I had a chance to listen to Peter Frankl, a genius mathematician and a professional road juggler, a Hungarian now residing in Japan. He wrote many books in Japanese, including his autobiography Why I speak 11 languages.

Over a dozen Hungarian scientists are listed as Nobel Laureates, including Eugene Wigner, who was involved in the Manhattan Project; Rubik Erno, who established the International Rubik Foundation; George Soros, CEO of Soros Fund Management; Biro Laszlo, an inventor of ball point pens; and Neumann Janos, mathematician / physicist best known for his game theory. In 2002, Imre Kertesz joined as the first Hungarian writer to win the Nobel prize for literature. He wrote his semi-autobiographical novel Fateless dealing with the Holocaust.

According to Peter Frankl, who serves on the Hungarian Academy of Science as an adviser, research conducted on the Hungarian genes did not reveal any uniqueness compared to neighboring nationalities of Serbians, Romanians, ...,etc. Hence the teaching "not only to be Hungarian, he has to have a talent." The same applies to the Japanese as well, all the more.

I had a friend in Budapest, who studied Japanese in Kitakyushu. Her Japanese is excellent. To speak Japanese that fluently, one would have had to spend at least a couple of years in Japan. Her English is also superb, as she had studied in Australia. During my trip there, her boyfriend, who was also a friend of mine, visited Budapest from Mexico. We got together for a little reunion. What a combination between Hungarian and Mexican! They met in Kitakyushu. She was applying for a job with a Japanese manufacturer and she was told her interview went well. In a cafe, we toasted to her success.

I stayed in a Buda side hotel, by the Deli Station for 5 days because of its proximity to the Gellert and Castle Hills and the hotel where the Hungarian Toastmasters met. I moved to the Pest side hotel one day before leaving for Vienna from Keleti Station. I took a day trip by train to rustic Szentendre on the Danube Bend, and a boat ride coming back. It was a wonderful sunny afternoon to view the Chain Bridge and the Royal Palace. The waltz "Blue Danube" was written by Johann Strauss for his Hungarian friend / writer Carl Beck.

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