Routes of Passage

budapest1Someone getting to know a new country may go through many rites of passage, which sometimes take the form of routes. For example, it’s important to learn how to take public transportation from the airport to your destination. Why? It’s about one-tenth the cost of a cab, it’s more fun, and once you know how to do it, it’s easy (or can be). So I was excited to take the bus to the Budapest city center.I was going to take the metro from Astoria to Keleti, but I walked instead. This picture, taken from the bus, gives a sense of the ride.

Another important route has been vertical, through a glass elevator at the Baross City Hotel. When I ride, I feel swept up into a low-key elegance. The Baross is modest, as far as hotels go–comfortable but not fancy, gracious but not unctuous, and one of my favorite hotels yet. It seems to hold several eras at once, through its neoclassical architecture, mechanical and electrical engineering, internet connections, and daily comings and goings. Here I am not sure what the rite of passage means, or where the route may take me, other than up and down in glass–but I’m enjoying it. I have some jet lag but must get some more sleep, as I leave for Szolnok early in the morning.

budapest2

 

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    Diana Senechal is the author of Republic of Noise: The Loss of Solitude in Schools and Culture and the 2011 winner of the Hiett Prize in the Humanities, awarded by the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture. Her second book, Mind over Memes: Passive Listening, Toxic Talk, and Other Modern Language Follies, was published by Rowman & Littlefield in October 2018. In February 2022, Deep Vellum will publish her translation of Gyula Jenei's 2018 poetry collection Mindig Más.

    Since November 2017, she has been teaching English, American civilization, and British civilization at the Varga Katalin Gimnázium in Szolnok, Hungary. From 2011 to 2016, she helped shape and teach the philosophy program at Columbia Secondary School for Math, Science & Engineering in New York City. In 2014, she and her students founded the philosophy journal CONTRARIWISE, which now has international participation and readership. In 2020, at the Varga Katalin Gimnázium, she and her students released the first issue of the online literary journal Folyosó.

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    On April 19–21, 2014, Diana Senechal took part in a discussion of solitude on BBC World Service's programme The Forum.  

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