Friday, June 11, 2004


One of our neighbours took the roof off his house the other day in order to build another storey onto it.

There's a rather sad, bitter and twisted old crone who lives opposite us whose verdict was thus.

"Those with nothing better to do take the roof off their house."

At first glance, a perfectly nonsensical little utterance but one which gives an insight into the workings of the minds of those who live in this suburb nevertheless.

First, a little background. Kanizsa was originally two settlements, one big(ger), Nagy and the other small(er), Kis. Nagykanizsa developed into what we would recognise as a small town whereas Kiskanizsa remained very much a rural village. The two have, to all intents and purposes, merged geographically but the town/village divide is still very real.

To the denizens of Nagykanizsa, chickens and vegetables are things one finds in small packages in the supermarket. Here in Kiskanizsa they are things to be beheaded and yanked out of the earth respectively.

Kiskanizsans view their town dwelling neighbours as arrogant and as lazy, idle rich whereas those from the town have, due to their ability come harvest time to strip a field/garden of it's produce in a matter of minutes, given the Kiskanizsans the nickname of locusts.

To this must be added an awareness of the general Hungarian mindset of, "I don't mind if my horse dies as long as my neighbour's horse dies, too."

Hopefully, we are now in a position to attempt a rough translation of the old crone's observation.

Firstly, it expresses envy that a neighbour has the necessary readies to perform such a task and secondly, the fact that she is far too busy to even contemplate such an endeavour. There is also an undertone of "I could also afford to do it, really," despite the reality of the situation having already been expressed in the envious bit.

Me? I just keep my head down. I'm only a trainee locust after all.

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