July 22, 2003

The plan was to drive out to Budakeszi this morning first thing and show Zsolt the new book design we did based on his and Aili's and Agi's and whoever's comments. This being Hungary, the plans changed. Zsolt was in his mother's basement doing something or other with contractors who were making some repairs or some such to the basement. So, off we went to Maci's house in the general vicinity of Moskva tér.

Maci was thrilled to see me. She has fond memories of our extreme birding expedition two years ago (Otis tarda was a life bird for both of us.) She offered me a glass of milk - the only cold beverage she had on hand because she'd just said good-bye to a bunch of house guests- and we sat down to reminisce about birding while Zsolt and István talked about the grant application or some such.

Finally, the guys emerged from the basement to discuss the book design. Zsolt offered us coffee before ascertaining whether his mother in fact had any coffee in the house. Fortunately she did. We went over the book design over coffee and he seemed satisfied with it this time. This is good because I am leaving this afternoon so don't have a whole lot of time to redo all the stuff I've already done. One could wish that master pages in Quark worked the same way as templates in FrameMaker, but they don't, so I am relieved I don't have to change the format.

So we all drank our coffee and continued to discuss the Otis tarda expedition. Maci didn't even mention my falling off the cliff. She was much more interested in talking about the birds we saw. I was amazed at how active she was at age 86 and now am even more amazed at how active she still is at 88! I'm suddenly feeling old at 52!

With hugs and kisses from Maci, we headed to Budakeszi after all, because there was stuff there needed back in Budapest. So I got to say good-bye to Agi and Aili also. Didn't have a chance to pick any more plums though.

Back at the Botanical Department (why do I feel like I've traveled all over creation this morning?) Marti met us with some homemade biscuits, including some for me to take on the plane with me. Then on to the airport.

Now keep in mind that we called British Airways to confirm my flight early this morning. They said everything was find and to be at the airport 2 hours before flight time. Keep this in mind.

I go to check in. The line's not very long. This'll be a breeze. Hah! When it's my turn the poor British Airways person explains for what is apparently the billionth time this afternoon that there is a wildcat strike at Heathrow in terminal 4. That would be where my flight to Boston would leave from. "Go to the ticket counter and a British Airways representative will rebook you on a different airline." "Uh, OK."

The line at the ticket counter is slow and is growing exponentially behind me. The woman in front of me in line is apparently trying to rebook her whole family to Hong Kong and doesn't have all the tickets. This takes up one ticket agent's time for about an hour. There are only two ticket agents. When it's finally my turn, the agent types various combinations into the computer for about 20 minutes or so and finally says "I've booked you on a flight to Toronto with a connecting flight from there to Boston. Here's your itinerary." Just then István returns from a walk around the terminal and I show him the itinerary, which I haven't really looked at yet. Suddenly, we both notice the flight to Toronto leaves Budapest at 14:10 (2:10 PM) -- that's in 15 minutes! They're already boarding. There is no way I can check my bags, go thru security and immigration, and get on the plane. The agent looks at it again. "Sorry, I thought the flight was at 14:50". More typing for a further 10 or 15 minutes and I'm on a Lufthansa flight to Frankfurt with a very tight connection, but doable nonetheless.

I bid the Hungarians a fond "hello" - I never cease to be amused by the fact that they say hello to mean good-bye - and sail effortlessly through security and customs and even have time to down a Scweppes Bitter Lemon before boarding.

It's a short flight to Frankfurt, but there's some weather and the flight gets into a holding pattern. All around me people are freaking out about missing their connecting flights. Like they can do anything while they're still in the air. On the ground the freak-out people, at least 4 of whom are headed for the same flight I am, are tense and hostile and trying to get ahead of other people to get off the bus from the tarmac to the terminal. For some reason, this is not bothering me. Either I'm extraordinarily tired or I've regained some semblance of the calm I used to have before I went to work at Starship Startup.

I made it to the gate ahead of 2 of the most obnoxious freak-out people despite my walking at a steady pace instead of rushing and pushing people out of the way. And, after all this, I finally noticed that the lovely British Airways ticket agent had upgraded me to First Class. So with gourmet food from an Italian chef and a near flat sleeper seat I read St. Peter's Umbrella in style and got home tonight an hour earlier than planned.

All that in one day and it's not even my bedtime yet in this time zone.

Today's Reading
St. Peter's Umbrella by Kálmán Mikszáth

This Year's Reading
2003 Book List


Specimen of Malaysian driftwood in Zsolt's fish tank


Journal Index



Copyright © 2003, Janet I. Egan