Senses are the most important connections to our culture, to the place where we were born, grew up and plan to rest. The sights, smells, smiles, gestures, sounds. Yes, yes and flavors, of course. I think it is true for all Central European nations, but speaking for Hungarians, the most amazing moments since we moved to the US are when I unexpectedly encounter one of the senses similar to my home. A license plate with words “Nyuszi” (bunny)… GOOSEBUMPS. Hungarian conversation – GOOSEBUMPS. Hungarian music – GOOSEBUMPS. And music is the thing I want to tell you about, because if you’re an American expat, it’s just not the same. Your culture is everywhere.
I think Hungarians, along with the Balkan nations (oh yes!), have to offer some of the most powerful emotional songs, songs that play with the rhythm of your heart so that for a moment your heart stops pumping blood and pumps tears into your eyes. And I blame the gypsies and the peasants! The Hungarian gypsy and folk music can make an instant and deep mark on your soul. It is a powerful tool we use to treat ourselves for unsuccessful love, a sad life, death of a loved one or any other strongly felt occasion. Hungarian men do not cry! But our folk music calls forth tears from a deeper place.
Yes I know everyone can say the same about their culture. But did I mention that Hungarians had the highest rate of suicides per capita for many years? Do you know what was the most popular song to finish your life? The same one that was popular in American and was forbidden for a long time. Oh yes… Gloomy Sunday, written by my childhood favorite Seress Rezső (although I liked his other song about having the last coffee and leaving his broken life behind). Eventually in 1968 he did jump out of a window, and when he survived he finished himself with a wire in the hospital.
Do Hungarians suffer? Are we a gloomy nation? Do we always complain. No, no and, well, yes. Music is something that accompanies wine, the tonic to flush the sorrow out of your system. As we say, “heavy stones fall from my soul”. Depending on your sorrow, you might need to do this treatment repeatedly or even do it as preventive measure but on the end of the day we are a nation with fulfilled senses. People who love smells, tastes, sounds and feels of home. Also, you have to make sure which song will play at your funeral, right?
So what is this post about, is it a homesick person talking who is intoxicated by some Hungarian folk music? Yes partly, but I also wanted to show that music and food make us creatures with feelings. And I wanted to share with you my discovery that has been making my evenings feel more like at home. It is Diveky radio, playing a great selection of heart-warming music from all over. So whatever I have a mood for cafe music, old record, operett or gypsy music I can pick the right station and enjoy my food or wine. Give it a try and use all your senses!