Of Gardens and the Shelf System

Hello I’m back.

In case you are wondering how I’ve been since my last post, I have been okay. One big news since then, is that we have moved out of the hotel and found a nice home here in Budapest. We found a really nice duplex, which is yes, definitely bigger than that expected or what we agreed we would get, but fingers-crossed we hope to stay in this new house for duration of our posting here in Hungary.


Buda and Pest divided by the Danube

I mentioned in the last post, that the capital is divided into main parts, and our little new home is at the Buda or the hill side of the city. This area is mostly residential, compared to the Pest part where most of the businesses district is. But mind you that this being the capital many still live in Pest, but most of them live in apartments or condo-like buildings. Here in our side of the literal river, are mostly houses with fences, gardens, and the occasional guard dogs.


The Pest side 


Buda Side

Finding a place to stay in Budapest wasn’t that difficult for us, I guess the challenge was to find something within a reasonable budget and something that we knew we could handle. The same in Muscat, here you get connected to a real-estate agent who will help you look into potential places, that are again narrowed to the specifics that you prefer.

There are some takes, most all homes are furnished, it’s just a matter of it being fully or semi stocked. A semi comes with the essentials like a stove, a fridge, a washer, sometimes a bed. A fully comes with the extras like furniture, a dryer, a dishwasher, and most important of all for me are closets and storage places.

Back in Muscat we opted for small, and just added stuff as we went along, but the thing that I learned there was that unless you consciously want to live a uncluttered life you had to take into consideration accumulating more stuff as time passes. And when you are living with a hoarder of fan-boy collector that kind of dilemma doubles by about five times.


I took this when we first came to see the house, sorry this is all I’ve got to show, maybe when our stuff arrives and we’ve done some decorating I can post an update.

JG doesn’t like throwing away stuff, this includes the boxes the toys he buys online or elsewhere comes with. He has also recently developed a foot fetish that came with his new found love for getting fit, with a pair of shoe for his weightlifting, one for his running, one for his casual walks. So aside from the space of the house, its winning factor for me was its variety of storage space.

Now, this new home is (knock for jinx) close to perfect, but there are two things that I may have overlooked in my excitement to move out of the hotel. The second one is going to be a bit gross and personal, so I’m going to give you a heads-up if you are squeamish and would want to skip that part. But if you are curious I apologize in advance for the TMI; but quite frankly, there are many things I cannot discuss in my life, both for personal and mostly as a matter of etiquette, so give me a break on this one, as I really find it weirdly funny and one that may never forget about my stay in Hungary.

Okay so the first one is the garden, the house came with a front lawn, some side plants, and not one but two huge pine trees (JG has aptly named them Dipper and Maebel). Which is nice, but as with living and growing things, they come with some caring and maintaining. As far as green thumbs go, mine are whatever the opposite of green is in the color wheel. When we were in Tripoli, I was the guilty neglectful murderer of two front lawns and a small vineyard. Our next door neighbor felt so bad for the garden, he would water it from his side of the fence.

Here in Budapest, the rent comes with a “common cost” fee, this is for the up keep of the stairway for apartments or shared gardens. We don’t share our garden with anyone and our landlord who lives next door helps me out each week. But I guess maintaining two gardens can be too much for one guy, so one day he asked us if we could please try and water the plants and the lawn at least every other day. So for now that’s what I’m trying to do. I do have a motivation, since we live in a duplex the other half of the lot is almost identical to our house, and their garden is impeccably kept. Have you ever heard an advice that says, never stand close to someone taller or better dressed, so as not to magnify the contrasts? That’s how I feel about our garden right now, so in this aspect wish me luck…


My number two problem with the house is the toilet, the actual bowl (bowls, we have two) to be exact. Here in Hungary they have an old school version, which is designed quite differently. Not sure how to describe it, but while ordinary contemporary ones are shaped like a bowl that drops down to the center (thus its name) ours have a sort of… plateau. There is a flat surface before the actual drop, and the flush system works to wash it forward then down… sorry I am doing my best to describe it to you. As I write I am still considering whether to post a picture, and have now decided not to, so if you are curious just google it. Someone called it the Shelf system, and comes with some setbacks.

I did not notice it at first, when we went to see the house, my main concern with the bath/wash room was always that water pressure is good and that there are no leaks or major glitches. So when I tried it upon inspection and water came like the Niagra falls, I was happy and in retrospect did not know better. So the morning after we moved, JG and his love of absurd toilet humor comes in the room and says, “Spoiler alert, get ready to get intimate with your poop.” At first I thought there was a clog problem, but after much persuasion, JG starts to tell me about the said Shelf system. And for the next few days I struggled. Struggled to see my poop in all its 3D glory, struggled to get a stronger whiff of its aroma, struggled to make sure everything goes down without leaving any signs of its short daily appearance.

I thought about whether this is a bad case of sharing too much, but I decided to write about it, because as I said earlier these are things I find interesting about our life. Moving our bowels is universal but the way we live with it is different with each new place. Just as we have cultures and history for architecture, eating, dancing, our everyday routines have its own unique, sometimes quirky, sometimes dark, sometimes funky smelling characteristics. And I find it interesting to think about how where we are and their way of life affect the things we are used to.

As for us, the garden and the toilet is something I have to learn to live with. I honestly don’t know how things are going to go. I think of the garden as a learning experience, a chance to make amends for the previous two that I sentenced to a slow death. The toilet is not so bad once you find ways to get around the “setbacks”, plus it’s going to be a challenge finding the new local friend who I will one day hopefully be comfortable enough, and vice versa as someone who will not be mad at me, for asking a very weird questions about the origins and explanation behind the Shelf system.




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