Saturday night yet the streets of Budapest were deserted. A musical concert was going on right behind the Hungarian Parliament house. The music was nice and peppy but the language being Hungarian was incomprehensible. I lost interest soon and wandered away to a nearby Cafe. The quaint cafe overlooking the Danube had a great view of the illuminated Parliament.
I asked the owner if they had tea and Wi-Fi. He chuckled and replied ‘Yes, we have tea and free wi-fea’. We both laughed at the deliberate rhymed words. He took my order and came back with the food in a short time. After serving he pulled a chair and sat next to me. He was almost my age, not very tall, quite thin and had a chiseled face. His English was not very good but that did not deter our conversation. He said he had visited India couple of times and even been to Mumbai. He seemed quite excited talking about India. Within no time we were discussing our respective countries.
This is what I love about travelling. Travelling exposes you to new people, new culture, new food and new things. Each time I travel I come back with memories of the people I met, the food I ate, and new things that I learnt.
Unlike, Mumbai shops shut down quite early in Budapest. I left the cafe and started walking towards the deserted bank of Danube. The riverside that was brimming with tourists in the afternoon was now empty and forlorn. It was getting cold. I pulled my jacket and wrapped my arms around. I stopped near the Shoes on the Danube and tried to imagine the pain of all those who had to jump into the Danube on that fateful night when the Nazis attacked. It must have been devastating.
I was alone and engrossed in my thoughts when I saw an elderly homeless man approaching towards me. Budapest is a city where in every corner you get to see a homeless person scavenging for food and clothes. The man came near me. He was wearing dirty and torn clothes and had dishevelled hair. He was carrying a big jhola. There was not a single soul around, other than myself and this man. He came too close to me and started muttering something in Hungarian. I was unable to understand a single word other than ‘cigarette’. I was damn scared however what I understood was that he needed cigarettes. I fumbled but somehow managed to utter that I didn’t have a cigarette and almost ran away from the place. I had been warned of muggers in Europe and this man closely resembled the description. Maybe he was not a mugger and probably just wanted a cigarette but these are perils of solo travel where you cannot take risk. I didn’t waste any more time wandering on the lonely streets of Budapest and headed towards my apartment. Well, a different story awaited there.
To be continued.…..