Rigo Utca, Budapest, Hungary

Zrinyi utca
Zrinyi utca (Photo credit: Hat)

The last year I was in HungaryI lived on Rigo, Utca.

Rigo is the Hungarian name for the backbird whose song fills the air in Budapestat dusk and again in the early hours of the morning, even before light starts to show on the horizon.

Fekete Rigo, Hungarian Postage Stamps
Fekete Rigo, Hungarian Postage Stamps

I lived in a huge one bedroom flat, on the 3rd floor and my neighbor was the lead singer of a local pop band.  Whenever she learned a new song, I’d learn it, too, whether I wanted to or not!  She played it over and over and the sound would bounce off the building across the street and through the windows into my flat.

It was a musical house and I regularly jammed in my flat with Hungarian musicians.  Zsolt, who played saxophone, was the first to start coming round.  He’d take his shoes and socks off and play a little casio keyboard with his toes, and his saxophone with his mouth and fingers.  I’d ly in the floor, a blanket over my head and make sounds.  We were later joined by a Georgy – a Bulgarianviolinist and flute player who was studying at Lizt Ferenc Music Academy,  and a keyboard player.   We had fun and developed a soundtrack for a long poem of mine, called Hope, which we presented at my leaving party.  I have a recording of it – somewhere – and someday will try to get it uploaded.

I also had a cat at Rigo Utca.  I’d rescued it from the bottom of a deep well that it had fallen into during a snowstorm, and it had followed me home.  Emma was a strange cat.  I think she was part feral and would scream to get out.  If I left the windows open she would walk along the outside ledges, jumping from ledge to ledge and visit the neighbors.  She also chewed through the power cord of my laptop one day when I was on an extended digital art-making binge.  Yes, she shut me down!

I only lived on Rigo Utca for a year, and left in April 2006.  Six months later there were protests in the streets of Budapest against the austerity of the new government, and cars were torched just a few blocks from my flat.

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