Prague: August 18, 1991...
took my final day as a Prague resident entirely in the leisure of Daniel's quiet apartment, playing stereo music, writing letters, pursuing the rare indulgence of my own cookery. Now beyond mid-August and lulled by the ambience of this mellow Sunday, I hadn't any doubt that I had come through summer's worst rigors. I could see myself tripping lightly down the slope from here to Greece, all my hassles behind me. It was a nice dream.
I had written to Geza in Budapest, weeks earlier, that I'd be there close on the 20th, which left me just enough time to squeeze in a taste of Vienna. My only problem was how best to get there - both quickly and cheaply. The railroad fare from Prague was a horrid $15.40, which I didn't understand at all. It was ten times the cost of the rail-ride from Domazlice, but only three times as far. The only possible explanation - and the correct one, as it turned out - was a several-fold increase in the rate structure when international borders are crossed. The railfare to Bratislava, nine-tenths of the way to Vienna but still in Czechoslovakia, was only two dollars!
But breaking off at Bratislava would merely shift the problem: the day's only train, according to the big board in the cavernous station, was an afternoon departure that wouldn't get there until 9 p.m., too late for either going on to Vienna or finding a stopover host. And a night of paid lodging would wipe out more than the rail savings. Seeking some way through this catch-22, I started playing with the public service computer in the waiting area. I had to fiddle with it awhile, because I couldn't understand the Czech instructions; but when I finally got into it there was a choice of languages - and from there on it was easy. I learned that a secondary rail station at Holovice, just a few subway stops away, had trains leaving for Bratislava all day long.
I was out of Holovice at 9:10 that morning - a five-hour rail ride, uneventful except for the enjoyment of Czech countryside from my favorite passageway window post. The schedule proved just too tight for a quick Vienna connection, however. I was faced with a four-hour wait in Bratislava for the next train, and hardly a chance of making it to Vienna before the American Express agency closed for the day. I'd be unable to retrieve the host list that should be there waiting for me. Another option suggested itself: to head for the nearby border on foot - it was only a mile or two distant - and hitch the forty miles to Vienna from there.
Outside the station I found myself amid traffic rushing in all directions. My way toward the border was blocked by the Danube, crossed by a bridge that had no provision for pedestrians. I hopped quickly on a bus headed that way, not at all sure it would even cross the bridge. But it did, and even took a turn on the other side to my advantage. I stayed with it for a half mile, and from there it was a straight walk in open country. I crossed into Austria at four o'clock and had my ride thirty minutes later with a middle-aged couple who spoke no English at all. We rode in silence, for the most part, but managed a bit of exchange . . . as when I registered amazement at a massive tower structure straddling the road, going into a small town, and they told me it was "tausend jahre" - a thousand years old. Uppermost in my mind, however, was the tightness of time: was I going to get my host list, or not?
On reaching Vienna, I used my universal word: "centrum," and showed them the American Express address that I had. They took me practically to the door . . . only minutes after it had been locked. I got absolutely nowhere with my frustrated waving at the people inside. They just smiled and went on about the business of shutting down for the night, leaving me with the familiar old question: What next?
In my haste at the border, I hadn't even paused to get any Austrian money, so that was obviously next. I was right in the heart of town, by the Stephensplatz, a great mall area where automobiles creep along in complete deference to the pedestrians milling around them - a strange sight. But every change bureau was closed. It took me half an hour to find a machine that returned Austrian schillings for deutschemarks, probably at a vile rate of exchange. Later, I would get a full infusion of Visa currency - but I had now a bit of working capital for buses and phonecalls. Definitely not a hotel, however. Nor a hostel, either - not in high-priced Vienna.
What to do? Without my usual host-list grab-bag, was I back down to the basics - a night under the stars? I found a bench in the shadow of St. Stephen's Cathedral and sat down to consider the matter. St. Stephen's, standing prominently in the center of its large 'platz', is a startling surprise, with its brilliantly colored zig-zag pattern of roof tiling. A cheerful flash of almost impious levity, that softens the cathedral's sermonizing severity. Gazing up at it, I was suddenly struck by the thought that there must be a GN regional coordinator, here in Vienna, and I dug for my master address list. Sure enough . . . there was one.
I quickly reached her on the phone, told her my dilemma and asked if I could get a local list from her. I got a moment of silence, and then a note of disquietude in her voice, as though I might have upset some protocol. "Well . . . it's inconvenient, but I guess you can come by for it . . . if you have your letter of identification with you."
Getting out there was difficult, for I had no street map as yet. I found a bus to the right part of town, but the driver provided little further guidance. I got directions from people I passed, stumbling through the language difficulties and that momentary apprehension that suddenly grips people approached by a stranger, on big city streets. When finally I reached Greta's address and climbed three levels to her apartment, I was met by a thin and rather nervous woman in her middle years, who seemed uncomfortable with my very presence. She invited me to put my pack on the floor - but not to sit down anywhere - and went to find the list that I came for.
I couldn't imagine what must be going through her mind, encountering this roadweary traveler backpacking it in his sixties and seeking only a friendly host in this city of strangers, with darkness hardly an hour away. It was so unlike the GN people elsewhere . . . she didn't even offer use of her phone. But I got a clue as to what might be lurking, there, when I considered her response to a final question, asked as I headed back down the stairs. I wondered if there was any certain host she might recommend to me, thinking there could be someone particularly easy with such short notice. She thought but a moment and gave me a name that I looked for on the list after I was out on the street. I saw, then, that he was merely a daytime host - one offering local assistance, but unable to provide overnight shelter - which she should have known. It puzzled me until I saw that he was in his seventies. Nothing else but my age, it seems, had gotten through to Greta!
WITH A HOST LIST in my hands, the world of possibilities opened anew, though I had only the leavings of daylight, now - a very late hour at which to request lodging. On my second phone call I reached a rather hesitant fellow who eventually submitted to the urgency in my voice and said I could come over after 8:30, as he'd be out for awhile before then. Hardly two hours had passed, since I sat in the Stephensplatz, in a city entirely unfamiliar to me, sure that I was destined for a night in the rough. In ten continental weeks, I hadn't once had to sleep in the open, as I did a half-dozen times in Britain.
But as the evening progressed I began to wonder if that might not have been the more satisfying course. He was very taciturn at my arrival, and didn't even read through my letter of introduction to get some idea of who I was - nor did he reveal much of himself. All I ever found out was what I could see: a dark-haired serious fellow in his early forties, with self-importance written in his features, who chain-smoked and had neither the sense nor courtesy to open a window and let some air into the room. Some hope arose that the interaction might change when a young woman stopped by and I was invited out with them for a pizza dinner. But they spent the entire time of it privately conversing in Italian, though they both spoke perfect English. I wasn't even offered an explanation for the strange event.
He let me have the smoke-filled room, when the time came to turn in, and the first thing I did was to open both windows as wide as I could. And I left them that way when I departed quietly, very early in the morning - early enough so as not to trap him in a reluctant farewell, for I felt no reluctance myself. This might seem a bit ungrateful for the free lodging received, but it felt, for the first time, like I was merely being hosted from a sense of obligation to some commitment or principle, rather than as a welcome guest.
Downtown again, I managed to find a free city map, and then I returned to the American Express office for the packet of host lists that I wasn't able to get the night before. They covered the rest of my journey, and I could move on in confidence now. I wondered, in fact, if I wanted to linger any longer in this city of strangely unsociable people. Vienna had always been high on my list of places worth seeing, and I hadn't really seen any of it yet - but was it worth the cold chill I was getting? I'd make one more attempt at finding a welcome mat.
This time I came up with a winner. It was a city residence number that I called, but it was pure luck that anyone answered, for the family had removed to a summer lodge in the nearby mountains. Gertrude had returned that morning, by pure chance, for some belongings. Helmut worked in the city as a computer engineer and she gave me his number so I could arrange to be whisked away to their mountain aerie when his day's work was done.
Their summer place was fifteen miles out of Vienna in a rustic Alpine settlement - it wasn't even a village, really, but a cluster of neighborly log homes, so perfectly Tyrolean that the setting could have come right out of a travel brochure. Absolutely lovely! With a welcome that was just as heartening, and conversation to round it out. Soviet politics was the day's hot topic, for this was the moment that Gorbachev had been put under arrest in the ill-starred putsch that tried to unseat him. But these folks were alive to the wide world, quite fluent in their English, and our talk touched many other bases. A pair of youngsters made a family affair of it, and the ambience felt good enough for me to remain with them a second night.
The evening air was no longer warm at this altitude - a potent reminder that time calls back its gifts and makes no undying friendships. For it wasn't just the altitude, but the imminent change of seasons and all that one could read from it. I am quite familiar with this late August moment of transition, when the energy of time quits and things do not complete . . . like the blackberries that fail to ripen at summer's end. Those who wanted to depose Gorbachev had picked the year's worst moment for it.
I was feeling this urgency of time, next morning, as I rode into town with Helmut to see Vienna, as I might, while he was at work. I suppose I was hampered, too, by preconceptions of Vienna. I went looking for the sort of charm I had always read about, or seen in Hollywood images. Ah, yes . . . magical Vienna: inspirational source of the great romantic music, heartland of Europe's late 19th Century lilt and flair. Vienna, in a class by itself as the embodiment of Europe's fin de siècle era. It was all gone, of course . . . if it had ever been more, indeed, than a memory elaborated by time. I found only the tiniest courtyard remnant, barely enough to satisfy the vision, in a junction of narrow streets at odd angles, with overhead arches buttressing the low buildings against one another. I indulged in a big delicious bowl of creamed spinach soup at an outdoor cafe, there, and tried not to think about the four dollars it was costing me.
For the rest of my day I had to be satisfied with a very vital, very cosmopolitan city - not at all disappointing in its own right, but not the city I wanted to find. It has not even remained very well in memory, except for the political demonstration in the Stephensplatz urging a continuation of the Soviet move toward democracy. That, and the one place I won't ever forget: the building where Sigmund Freud once carried on his work. Though its meaning for me may be slightly askew from the psychoanalytic.
I hadn't even been all that interested in seeing it; but Helmut knew the locale and said there was a small cafe across the street where we could meet for our return ride into the mountains that evening. The time we set was 7:30. Helmut worked at a pace of his own on the job, and often put in overtime.
I was there ahead of time, supposing there might be something worth lingering over, but there wasn't. It was just a commonplace stone building rising many stories, in an area of trade shops, with nothing of related consequence except a small plaque to mark the great man's association with the place. I wasn't really surprised, that Freud had no better personal style than to inhabit such a building.
It left me with an annoying amount of time on my hands, to wait around for Helmut. There was no cafe directly across the street, but one halfway up the block and one halfway down, so that I couldn't confidently have waited in one or the other. But I probably wouldn't have, anyway, so it was no problem. The problem was that Helmut wasn't there by 7:30. Nor by 8:00. Nor by 8:30 - by which time the problem had begun to assume disquieting dimensions.
I didn't have the vaguest idea where their country home was located, not even which way from town. Every bit of my belongings was out there. Dumb me! . . . alone in the middle of Europe, and I hadn't even the common sense to take their phone number with me. I had no choice but to stay where I was, and if Helmut didn't show, I was stranded and adrift for the night.
The measure of my desperation, by the time it took hold, was such that I made a phone call to Greta on the vague chance that she, as coordinator, might know how to reach them at their country home, or be otherwise resourceful enough to suggest some recourse. She reacted to the recognition of my name with something markedly less than enthusiasm. When I explained what was happening, she said there wasn't anything she could do for me, her voice sounding a bit strained - at which point my exasperation suddenly swung from Helmut to her, and I started itemizing things she very well might do for me: come and pick me up, find me an emergency host, call the police for me . . . I suggested just about everything that crossed my mind except that she might put me up for the night, herself - waiting for her to think of that one, but she never did. She just got more and more frantic, saying it wasn't her problem, she wasn't being paid anything for this, people have no right to impose . . . and no, No, NO, she couldn't do a thing.
Halfway into it I could tell that I was just goading her out of pure meanness. I wanted somehow to shock her out of that self-centered focus. Of course she wasn't obligated to do anything for me, and I knew it - but I still had a charge from the insensitivity she had shown at our earlier encounter and this was the perfect occasion to let it out. It was a wonderful release. I hated myself for it as soon as I hung up . . . and laughed quite shamelessly, all the same. I'm sure Freud would have had a few things to say about it.
But none of this was solving the problem. I thought about calling the police, myself, simply in the prospect of getting into a cell for the night. But they'd likely find the £680 in travelers checks stashed inside a pants-leg and push me toward the nearest hotel. Anyway, it wasn't yet late enough for either desperate measure. I just went back to waiting. Perhaps some other bright idea would pop into my head.
Along about nine o'clock, there came Helmut casually sauntering up the street - with a look of surprise when he caught the exasperation on my face. Oh, yeah . . . he guessed he was a bit late - but . . . never to worry, he always picks people up when he promises to. And I admit I felt a little foolish, after having regaled him and Gertrude, the night before, on my Que sera, sera way of going through Europe. I made a point, before we went home, of calling Greta back to let her know everything was okay . . . and felt a little relieved that she was still answering her phone.
THEY WANTED ME to remain another night, and I probably should have, if for no other reason than to let that fresh mountain air and sunshine nourish my waning enthusiasm for the journey. But I was already overdue in Budapest. Helmut drove me to the depot on Thursday morning, in good time for an early train that would take me into Hungary. But wiser to the way of rail rates, now, I intended to hop off at the border stop, quickly buy a ticket for the remaining distance to Budapest and board again, all within the fifteen minutes of scheduled station time.
The adventure fizzled at the last minute. I got cold feet when I saw the line of border guards posted trackside the length of the train. Fearing I'd run into passport and baggage hassles and lose the whole thing, I stayed on board. Now it became a gamble to make it as far as Gyor, an hour further, without my ticket being examined. This one worked. A new conductor came through just as we pulled into Gyor, but she smiled and let me go by without bothering to check the passage I had purchased.
Another country, another language, and an hour and a half to wait for the next train to Budapest. Another currency exchange, too - and from now on I'd have to be careful with it. Eastern European money is a paper game, and the exchange is simply buying tickets for it - non-refundable tickets. I wasn't going to get stuck again as I had in Poland, with currency worthless outside its country of origin. With Visa apparently unacceptable in the old East zone, and the travelers checks reserved for absolute emergency, my remaining 1350 Austrian schillings could easily be all the negotiable cash I'd have for the next couple weeks. For right now, I traded a thousand of them - $78 worth - for Hungarian forints . . . like buying chips in a casino and going out to find the most interesting game. The day was bright, the streets busy but uncrowded, and the morning mood infectiously cheerful.
The game I found in Gyor was at a counter-service refreshment shop, where I stopped for some tempting, inexpensive pastry and decided to ask for a cup of tea with it. The menu board listed KAVE, KAKAO, and TEJ, which pretty obviously meant coffee, cocoa, and tea. So I pointed to TEJ, the counter woman nodded, and I stood aghast as she put a ladle full of cream into the cup before pouring any tea. I had become so used to tea being served black, all through Europe, it never occurred to me that I might be in another country that drinks its tea with cream like the British. Before I could catch her attention, I watched in frozen disbelief as she poured a second ladle of cream into the cup - and then my sanity returned, in a rush of realization that TEJ didn't mean tea at all. I had ordered milk! Tea in Hungarian, I later learned, is . . . TEA.
My day's journey resumed on a slow train making every stop along the way, taking two and half hours to reach Budapest. The rule of thumb, coming into a great city where everything is strange, is to sit tight until the station where everyone gets off the train. But this time we seemed to be heading out into the countryside again before it ever happened. Responding to my apparently evident concern, the young fellow who had been sitting silently across from me suddenly revealed a fluency in English, telling me that we would circle back in a short while to the main Budapest terminal. Bulgarian, and on his way home, he'd been through here many times. He surprised me, then, by contributing part of the hour until his own journey resumed, to be my escort for a mile of subway passage into the heart of the city. Another angel!
Budapest pummelled me with rapid-fire and contrasting impressions. It was a mix of contradictory moods, more so than any other city I had seen. Vitality, elegance, a settled and sure sense of identity - yet: its wide boulevards ravaged by too much vehicle traffic, with all the attendant noise and fumes, a contrary drab silence in the non-arterial streets, and everywhere, the crowds and lines of a recently revived economy.
This was a scheduled mail stop, my first since Munich, and I headed directly for the post office. But the day was hot and I was tired, and anxious to go find Geza. I hadn't the patience for the normal frustrations that attend the postal trip . . . the predictable collision of language hassles and long waiting lines, often at the wrong window, and further complicated by the uncertainty of whether my first name and last were both fully searched - the constant predicament of a name like Thomas. The general delivery function - 'poste restante' in Europe - is invariably the shabbiest of a half-dozen orphan-child services lumped together at the same window, not all of them even postal matters to begin with - but every one of the others taking more time to service than the simple retrieval of personal mail.
I might have held my cool if nothing more than the above had complicated this particular inquiry. But there was one more thing, a trick not so rare in Europe. Just as I reached the window, after twenty minutes of line time, somebody else edged in from my left side with `more urgent' business.
I was primed to explode. Whether from one too many irritations of this sort, or my immediate impatience and general weariness . . . or because August still had too much leftover charge. Whatever the fuel, this was the spark and I let go with a blast - at the woman who had intruded on me, at the postal clerk who accepted the intrusion, at the people behind me, at anyone within hearing range - probably raving all the more because I knew nobody could understand any of it. I carried on like John Brown in his abolitionist fury, until finally the woman who had edged in on me (probably a postal worker, herself) turned around, and with a narrowed eye of the sort shown to insignificant underlings, simply said, "Shutup!"
It's funny now, but it wasn't then. It shut me up, alright, though I kept rumbling, half to myself, like some punctured volcano preserving its dignity, as they took care of their business. After all of that, there wasn't even any mail waiting for me.
I RECALL LEARNING, as a youngster, that Budapest was the joining of two ancient towns on opposite sides of the Danube: Buda and Pest, and I thought it very funny at the time. The Pest side is the city's commercial portion, its heart a half-circle grid of avenues radiating like ripples from the river-front, and sliced by boulevards into pie-shaped segments of high urban density, both business and residential. Behind the shop fronts that line the avenues are compact apartment structures, in one of which I would find my friend, Geza. He was close to a central boulevard, about midway along its mile-and-a-half stretch between the Danube and the railway station.
For the second time, I was about to meet someone I had known for years through correspondence, with never an opportunity to know him in person. My mail connection with Geza went back even farther than that with Rachel - far enough, so that its origins are a little vague; each of us remembers it a bit differently. I think it was 1977 when Geza contacted me through an alternative newsletter that carried something either by or about me. How that newsletter ever reached Geza, in those Iron Curtain days, I do not know.
He wrote in a curiously florid English, with quaint twists of usage and grammar that made his letters adventurous reading quite in their own right. But being in touch with a socially perceptive, environmentally aware attorney from behind the Soviet shield had been an adventure of a higher order. I relished every letter received from him. They were not frequent - perhaps three or four in a year, at most, and we may have even lapsed for a year at a time. But over that fourteen-year span, the content had shifted from the purely surface cultural curiosity of our earliest exchange to deeper waters of philosophical concern and Geza's personal frustrations in living under the Soviet system. Strong transcendentalist leanings had made the realities of his life exceptionally burdensome, and a spiritual rapport began to grow between us. He was a lawyer, yes . . . but forged by heaven as a philosopher and a poet.
It had never seemed possible that we should ever meet in person. Initially, of course, the Iron Curtain formed an absolute barrier; but even with that down, nothing in either of our lives suggested any likelihood of international travel. Least of all in my own. So this walk through rain-freshened streets to finally meet Geza in person had more than the usual high, of excitement in a new city, that by now had become familiar to me. The very atmosphere of Budapest seemed charged with the wonder and uniqueness of the correspondence that had set this occasion up.
I wouldn't have guessed that there were courtyard residences behind the busy shops and office buildings that fronted on these avenues. Living near such a constant thunder of traffic was impossible to visualize; Geza's address was just fifty feet from the roar of a major intersection. Yet, the noise vanished as I entered its inner court and gazed up at three tiers of encircling apartments set back on walkway balconies. This enveloping structure silenced the traffic outside as surely as it eliminated the sight of it. Even from the top balcony, no street noise at all could be heard as I knocked at Geza's apartment.
The man who opened the door caught me entirely off balance. I'd had a photo of Geza, long ago, and had not been much impressed by it. One among a group of people in what amounted to a snapshot, he looked average in height, balding (as I recalled), with what I had characterized at the time as a Leninesque growth of beard. But this man at the door was tall and decidedly good-looking with short, greying hair - not at all balding - and a very trim beard that suggested no such personality comparison. In fact, if he put me in mind of anyone at all, it would be an Omar Sharif or a Ronald Colman - albeit with a Slavic flavor . . . a certain brooding, regal touch in his features.
We greeted each other like old friends - which of course we were - and I was immediately introduced to his wife, Ancsi, who spoke no English at all, and then his youngest boy, Peter, about 14, whom I suspect knew a bit more English than he could be persuaded to try. Geza's English was perfectly good, far better than I ever sensed from his writing.
Ancsi had a strong yet easy nature, the balance and ballast for Geza's diverse currents. She and I could not talk directly, but she sent revealing glances, flashing with wit and sensitivity, as Geza translated between us. Nothing seemed to ruffle her. She was clearly a stabilizer for Geza's turbulence, and probably tempered his passions. She was lively enough, on the other hand, and attractive enough to feed the healthiest of his passions.
That week was a fine mix of exploring on my own, going places with Geza and his family, then Geza alone, dining with them every evening - occasionally dining out - talking with Peter in the mornings (which became a game, to see what we could get across to one another), watching TV with them in the evenings, browsing Geza's floor-to-ceiling shelves of books, and generally getting a recuperative rest. I could hardly know it, but some of the journey's roughest passages lay yet ahead of me, and the rejuvenation in Budapest may have been vital to my well-being.
It was also a particularly poignant time in Geza's life, for me to be there. That full week was a pageant of upheaval in the Soviet Union, which we watched every night on TV. Gorbachev had returned in victory, and then immediately proceeded to outlaw the Communist Party. Geza's entire life had been dominated by the influence of that party on Hungarian affairs. He was alternately ecstatic and disbelieving, as the news nightly burst forth like a display of fireworks.
"Can you imagine, dear Irv . . . the Communist Party . . . abolished!"
He left no room for a response from me, but went right on . . . comparing the event, for my appreciation, to the inconceivable outlawing of democracy in America, or the sudden nullification of our Bill of Rights. All of which would hardly equate, for me, to the psychological burden suddenly lifted from Geza's world - which he well knew, but there was nothing else of such impact and magnitude with which to frame an appropriate comparison.
Geza had lived through devastating and traumatic events arising out of their proximity to the Soviet Union. He took me to see the streets where house-to-house fighting had taken place during the 1956 uprising. Geza was a grown teen-ager at that time, a young man, and it stays with him in terrible detail, the block-by-block defeat of Hungarian hopes. Earlier, he had seen his mother wounded by deliberate rifle fire and then been forced, each morning at school, to honor the goodness of the Soviet regime and pledge his allegiance to the puppet government.
He studied law as a practical matter, but his heart was never in it. Choosing to learn English, reading Thoreau and Emerson, he was regarded as a pariah among his professional peers. He found his relief in ferreting out obscure American periodicals that dwelt on the more timeless elements of human life. But his career suffered in consequence of his rebellious ways, and he was hard put to keep his family at better than the barest economic level. His letters to me had often been testimonials to frustration, mournful agonies over what must be and what could never be. I always wondered if the reflections I sent on my own free life might not have been more hurtful to him than helpful.
Then came the changes. Suddenly, a lawyer who could read and speak English was in demand. He found himself with more work on his hands than he could keep up with - though in an economy now in continual danger of foundering. As yet, very little of real benefit from it had filtered into Geza's personal world, and he still had to contend with a profession that was not personally fulfilling. But at least he could now speak out on matters that no one had wanted to think about or dared to, before. People turned to Geza, now, on environmental issues and he had even become a local resource for bio-regional thinking.
In fact, he made positive use of my presence there by setting up a half-hour local radio interview with me. We sat before a vintage microphone - the two of us and Mrs. Maruka, the young woman doing the interview, with Geza acting as translator - and talked about how and why I had come all the way from west coast America to eastern Europe. For Geza, it was an opportunity to spread some light on the values inherent in a deliberately simple lifestyle, relating it to environmental concerns. I doubt if it made much registration in a country striving for a toe-hold of economic sufficiency, but Geza was pleased and I had my moment of celebrity in Hungary.
Geza is not a stranger to lonely causes, nor does he discourage easily at such a prospect. That much is obvious from a wonderful poster over his desk in the little office/study/library that served as my quarters, in their five-room apartment. It is a cartoon filled with thousands of sheep, as far as the eye can see, coming forward en masse, only to plunge like lemmings over a cliff, headlong and heedless into disaster. A single sheep, however, heads in the other direction, patiently working his way against the multitude, saying: "Excusez moi . . . excusez moi . . . excusez moi . . ."
Thanks largely to Geza's and Ancsi's hospitality, and a bit to my juggling of railroad fares, I came in with a very low-cost week, spending only $80.56, to bring my eleven-week average down to $94.08. But some unexpected cash demands were about to be made on my resources.
"...obscure American periodicals..." Manas was the periodical in which Geza claimed to have first seen my name. No longer published, it was, for over forty years, the bi-weekly source of some of the richest social commentary of its time.
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