It is surreal to be sitting her in Budapest, a little way from the Basilica watching the new Chinese elite pose for photographs, with not a care in the world. There is an endless stream of them, literally, going both ways, to and from the Basilica. These contemporary decendants of Chinese Communism have exchanged Mao suites for Pravda, Gucci and Armani. Whilst still seeing “China” as one country. But it appears to me that only one fifth of the country’s people are able to enjoy this new found wealth.
I am viewed with curiosity. Not by the Hungarians. I try where possible to say in broken Hungarian, hello, thank you and please, which is appreciated. No I’m viewed with suspicion and wary caution by the Chinese tourists. They know, immediately there eyes focus on me, I am not like them. I am not Chinese as they are. I am not mainland Chinese. I am not Taiwanese. I am not Asian-American, I’m not even Hong Kong – Chinese. Though my t-shirt further gives them cause for confusion and concern. My t-shirt says Hong-Kong The World Premiere Sevens Event. I see a flicker of doubt in some of their eyes. Were their initial instincts wrong? They collectively frown. They can spot a fellow “country man” a mile off. Just as I can spot someone in the UK and know whether they are English, British, European, Chinese, Japanese or from Hong Kong. But for me it’s just an observation. I clock it and move on. But for these Chinese tourists who scrutinise me it is an inquisition. They want to question me, but they do not. Instead their eyes linger on me just a little too long.
But I don’t care. Here in Europe, I feel safe, for the time being.
With all that is going on in the world, it seems wrong for this un adulterated display of hedonism to be coming from such an unlikely source, Chinese tourists. It feels like they are playing a collective fiddle as their Rome burns.
And what’s my excuse? To be sitting here watching them, watching me? Well I’m actually working. Filming, so I’m doing more sitting around than anything else – for the time being.
And all the while I’m in Budapest. This soulful, beautiful city. But beneath its grand and wonderful architecture, there is a melancholia. Formed from the city’s past, its tragedies, its conflicts non of which have been forgotten.
It all seems so wrong. Being in the position that I am, having the freedoms that I have, that I more often than not take for granted.
Sipping Madagascan hot chocolate writing a blog entry that in other regions of the would have me at best “reprimanded” at worst incarcerated.