A Travel Vignette
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From a Hungarian Travel Diary (1997)

Hungary's Rent-a-Government

A Bob Djurdjevic Column, September 1997

BUDAPEST, Sept. 28 - Guess I am getting too old for this sh... (pardon my "French"). You know... the "gala" cocktail parties like the one I have just attended.

The event was nothing short of revolting. Yet yes, I admit, I did eat and drink my share of the goodies which were dished out (and for which I helped pay, by the way, with my conference registration fee). Guess I should have left when I realized what sort of a globalist crowd I was in. Now, the only thing left is to throw up. Which I've already done - mentally, anyway.

This evening's cocktail reception was held (literally) under the cupola of the Hungarian newly-renovated Parliament (with some of the $10 billion of the NWO money which this tiny country of 10 million got in 1990-1995 vs. The $2 billion which all of Russia's 147 million people got in the same period).

Can you imagine a Donald Trump, for example, renting the Capitol dome for an evening of fun and games; salmon and caviar; cold and hot delicacies? If you can (imagine that), then I must have just seen the U.S. Capitol by the time the Clinton/Gore crooks are finished with their stint in DC, circa 2000. After all, they've already used the Lincoln bedroom for the same purpose.

After Alex V. (an Arabic-looking conference chairman) finished his opening remarks under the Hungarian Parliament dome, he introduced a Hungarian minister who said next to nothing in the next two or three minutes of his speech. It was as if he couldn't wait to get to the buffet in front of him.

"What is he a minister of?" I asked a FORTUNE magazine reporter who happened to be standing next to me.

"I beg your pardon?" she replied.

"What is this guy a minister of?" I repeated. "Of the seafood or of the goulash dishes?"

The reporter looked at me in stunned silence. "I don't know. I think he is a minister of commerce," the FORTUNE reporter stuttered.

"Are you sure?"

"No, I am not. But he sounds like one."

"You mean he sounds stupid enough?"

She gave me another stunned look. "What is your name?" she asked.

I told her. I then turn my name badge to her so that she could read it. "Sound familiar?" I asked.

"I am not sure," she replied.

"I am glad," I said. "For, if you were, chances are it would probably not be for complimentary reasons."

At that moment, a group of British reporters and editors joined the conversation. "Hi, Bob, how are you doing?" one of them asked.

"I am doing just fine. How are you?"

The FORTUNE reporter seemed stunned once again. And out of it, too.

"How's Brussels?" a British lady reporter asked me.

"How's Brussels?" I repeated. It was my turn now to give her a surprised look.

"Yeah," she said smiling. "We've been plotting your travel reports at our London office trying to figure out where you might be landing next."

And here we were. Right under the Hungarian Parliament cupola. We all laughed.

"Bingo!" I said. "Your longitudes and latitudes have just crossed."

The British press kept me talking long enough to have made me miss most of the warm goodies at the buffet tables. As a small compensation, however, they did ply me with the good Hungarian red wine.

As I drifted off, alternating my conversation partner from the president of IBM Japan, to the former head of the IBM PC Company, to several ladies who seemed to be on the make for the next bachelor "Bill Gates" (they sure blew it for wasting their time on me!), I finally ended up talking to that Arabic Frenchman, Alex V., who organized and chaired the whole event, and who had been badgering me to attend for several years now.

"So what do you think so far?" he asked me, naturally expecting a complimentary answer.

"Wow," I said, looking at the gold-plated dome above us. "It's impressive."

He explained that they (meaning he) try to stage a conference in an ambiance which is normally not accessible to business people. Next year, for example, he said he was hoping to organize it in Jerusalem.

"So you sort of 'rent-a-government' for the occasion?" I asked rhetorically. And sarcastically.

I don't think he quite grasped the sarcasm in my remark.

"Sort of," he replied in the affirmative.

My next conversation partner was a brunette from Montreal. Which was followed by a blonde from Los Angeles. A blonde from San Francisco came later....

"Aren't there any Hungarians around the Hungarian Parliament?" I thought, but did not say anything.

Actually, there were. They were serving wine and liquors to the "distinguished guests." In "their" own Parliament.

So I spent most of the rest of the evening talking to the Hungarian Parliament security guards. In German. It was more fun than talking to the male or female globalist bimbos under the Dome. And besides, it was the only way. The guards spoke German better than I could speak Hungarian. Which is not at all. Which was roughly the equivalent of their English.

We had fun, though, as the guards tried to explain to me why the whole democracy business was a charade and why. I pointed out across the river at the former Hungarian king's palace, and said, "isn't that why?" (this is a charade).

They didn't quite get it, but they laughed politely anyway, especially when I tried to tell them that they'd run out of good wine before they'd run out of Western business people willing to consume it for free at a cocktail party no matter who was throwing it.

We all laughed. But I also cried. Deep inside. For, both for America (the master) and Hungary (the slave) lost some of their dignity this evening. The Hungarian kings, buried across the river, probably would have had a good laugh and a cry, too, at the kinds of (crass) people who are now being treated as if they were royalty.

"Have you been to Budapest? You haven't? Oh, you must go. It's just gorgeous."

I can't quite make out if it was Fred's or Barney's wife who said that first. But I am quite sure it was one of the "Flintstones." They are alive and well in Budapest.


Red Carpet

BUDAPEST, Sept. 30 - Another example of garishness and extravaganza was today's luncheon, held at the "Vigado Palace" (they seem to have more palaces in downtown Budapest than even McDonald's!). A red carpet was laid out for two solid city blocks, from the conference hotel to the palace, so that the invited guests could find their way. As the weather was windy, they must have had several dozen people stepping on the corners of the rugs to keep them in place. One way to provide employment, I guess...

I am longing for my blue jeans and tuna salad sandwiches...


The "Gala" Dinner at the Buda Castle

The "gala" dinner at the Buda Castle was another exercise in garishness. As we entered the plateau in front of the former Hungarian Royal Palace shortly after nightfall, there was a row a beautiful looking young Hungarian women dressed in national costumes, each holding up a torch. On the other side of the entrance, a group of men also dressed in national costumes stood erect, as if they were the old royal guards. After they had served champagne on the terrace, three buglers announced it was time to move in. All the pomp reminded me of the Olympic ceremonies.

Once inside the palace, which is now a museum, I was shocked by the "communist look" of the place. Whoever did that, must have ripped out the old beautiful royal interiors and built the cold, square, bland looking marble columns and walls. Everyone I had talked to and said that, immediately agreed with me. Yet no one seemed to have noticed the contrast between the palace exterior and the interior on their own. Strange how people can't see for looking...

The dinner itself was abysmal and the service worse. I was bonked on the head twice by the waiters' trays. They didn't even apologize. My dinner partner, the head of a Silicon Valley PR firm, and the managing partner of Arthur Andersen (who was one of the dinner sponsors!!), both remarked how this must have been a communist company still doing the catering.

In the end, we could not wait to leave. But wait we had to - for the buses never showed up till about 11 p.m. (the dinner had "started" at 7:30 p.m.).

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