It’s easy to love Budapest when you look only on Buda and inside the Körút. In fact, you don’t have to be a tourist to do that: most people, who live and work in this central part of the city, never need to visit outer districts. But those, who can’t afford this “luxury” and have to shuttle daily from the suburbs, have very different experiences about the city.
There are two main types of suburbs in Budapest. On the edge of the city, quarters for family houses have been built. Here you have a feeling like being in a village: the streets are quiet and neglected in the daytime. These are the typical sleeping towns of Budapest. A little further in you can find housing estates in socialist style, which often leave a lot to be desired as most of them haven’t been renovated for decades. People live like rats in cages in these negligent “socialist monuments.”
However, some disadvantages are also visible even from the city-centre. Take the BKV for example. And I’m not just talking about the forty years old metro-trains, which regularly start to fume at different times for some mysterious reason. I’m talking about the conductors, who are always standing in groups at metro entrances to control passes and tickets. The BKV – which is famous for its huge debt – somehow has money to pay them. However it has no money to set up an automatic ticket-controlling system, which would be more efficient and much cheaper to run; or have the money to buy new metro carriages or even to renovate the old ones. Strange, isn’t it?
The other striking problem in Budapest is homelessness: in the last period, there were attempts to criminalize homeless people, but of course it would do little to improve the situation. After the Constitutional Court banned this idea, immediately signs appeared next to the undergrounds walls with the words like “caution, wet floor” and “working area” on them. The obvious reason for these was to keep homeless people away. This was not a well thought out solution, but more a temporary one, due to the opportunity of criminalizing homelessness was later written into the constitution.
Well, the capital reflects perfectly the regular attitude in Hungary: how not to solve a problem.
by Beáta Bakó
Photos by: Michael Hadfield, Blikk, Index, MTI