Discover more from Random Minds by Katherine Brodsky
I’ve arrived in Budapest nearly a week ago and there’s something rather comforting in its familiarity. I appear to still know my way around. At least as well as I’ve ever known my way around. And two of my favorite coffee shops happen to be located within a short walk of my loft. Worth mentioning is that this is my first time staying in a loft and the high ceiling certainly seem to suit me.
What was less than pleasant is the acute heat and humidity that had greeted me upon arrival. The prices have also gone up, while the Canadian dollar has gone down, so I don’t feel quite as well off as I did on my last visit. It makes me wonder how is it that Hungarians still manage to fill the cafes, despite their salaries being below $2,000/month. What a difference a year makes. Also flooding me are bittersweet memories, but it’s best to avoid that topic or else I can feel a general wetness in the vicinity of my eyeballs. It’s allergy inducing.
Of course, unlike the prices, some things don’t change. The other day, I passed a Hungarian restaurant and spotted a server who had previously…well, served myself and a companion. He was one of the worst servers ever. With an attitude of not wanting to be there…or anywhere really. You’ll get what you want when he gets to it. There’s something both repulsive and charming about that. But I remembered him, didn’t I? On the other hand, my existence was hardly a flicker for him. Some people are like that.
So why am I even here?
I’m here on a fellowship for a think tank for several months. Several seasons too, which made it difficult to pack and resulted in extra fees.
My research area is AI and democracy. There’s no shortage of people tackling the topic these days, but I hope to come up with something of interest to more than me. While here I’m meant to live like a local, take in the city, and I’m hoping to record some podcasts with interesting characters from this part of the world. I’ll also be writing, a lot. Especially on AI. And maybe I’ll do a talk or two here. It was easier before I had LASIK and couldn’t see the audience.
That is all to say that I’m excited about my new home and project and you’ll be hearing from me a lot more frequently, whether you’re a paid subscriber or not.
I’ve also brought along my camera, so I’ll be taking pictures of dogs, people, and beautiful things.
Weirdly enough, I’m excited to be able to buy groceries locally. I have an odd fetish for local produce, but am never in one place long enough to do more than window shop.
I’m also particularly excited to have conversations with people here. I’ve already managed to have a few. Even though we had points of disagreement on some things, everyone I’ve spoken to engaged in good faith and the discourse allowed me to better understand both why they think what they do, as well as stress test my own thoughts. What more could I really ask for?
Many of us have lost the art and skill of discourse. We walk into too many conversations trying to change someone else’s mind, or else react. But what about just exploring together? What about getting to the root of an idea? What about just having curiosity about other people’s background and ways of thinking?
We don’t all need to think alike. It’s okay if we believe different things and lead different lives. The key is figuring out how to get along.
I’m looking forward disagreeing more, finding areas of agreement, and most of all…listening and asking questions. Without the right questions, we won’t be able to find any answers.
But getting there is part of the adventure.
PS. Let me know in the comments below if you’d like me to combine some travel related writing (and photography) along with my AI and culture-related posts.
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