I blame the cameraman

Budapest Travel Blog

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I was in a riot a few months back. Police in riot gear. Tear gas. Tanks. Cars exploding. 5000 chanting, surging Hungarians trying to break in to a TV station. I was 15 feet from a tank firing a water cannon into the crowd while cowering behind a 5 foot monument trying to keep the camera out of the water stream. But let's back up to the cameraman.

Fish (that was my roommate Darren at the time) and I had arrived in Budapest the day before. That night walking back to the hotel we noticed people crowding around televisions but we didn't know what was going on. Something had to be up, but if Fish spoke Hungarian he's kept it from me this whole time, so we didn't have a clue what was so interesting until we got back to the hotel.
Once in the room we hurriedly turned on the TV and found the local news. Tear gas. Live coverage of tear gas. Of course there's the obligatory crowd throwing flaming beer bottles at a barricaded door but lets talk about what caught my attention. The front door. Great big double oak doors. Even through the haze of the gas, stumbling future convicts, madness and mayhem, I recognized the doors. I recognized the whole damn building. Which was a miracle because the cameraman was shaking like a leaf in a blizzard. We'll get back to that. I had a picture of those doors. Those doors were a 1/4 mile down the street from our hotel. We had taken a different route back to the hotel but basically walked right by it. Just a few blocks over. You'd have thought I would have heard something.
Fish is deaf. And had his iPod on. But still, this looks loud. Actually I don't know what it looks like anymore because the god damn cameraman is running in the opposite direction and all I can see is his feet fleeing across the ground. Seriously, you were a hundred yards from anything and the wind was blowing the gas the other way... Finally he turns back around and zooms back in. I'm just getting a good look at the flood lights being turned on and someone just drove an SUV into the side of the building. It looks like they're trying to... GODDAMIT he's running again!!!!

It went on like this for 30 minutes. He ran at the sirens. He ran at the crowd. He ran at the cops. He has this 10 thousand dollar camera zoomed as far as it will go through tree limbs and over people's shoulders trying to get us a grainy image of a riot that is now further away from his camera than it is from the TV I'm watching it on.
It's about that time that I turned around to Fish and said "This guy sucks. I'd be twice as close as that." You know guys / men / overgrown, overly machismo boys. You know how we are. So Fish turns to me and says the only thing he's allowed to say at this point. "I'm just waiting on you." And I of course put my shoes on. Now, you can call names and shake your head all you want. We didn't make a decision of our own free will to blatantly walk right in to a tense situation as foreigners unfamiliar with the surroundings or the locals. It was the F'N cameraman. We had to up the man quotient to make up for his pansy ass.

So then. A car blows up. We make our way closer to the center. I take some pictures of rioters picking up steel guard rails to use as battering rams.
The police rush us. We run. We return. Things catch fire. Windows are broken. We find a physicist that speaks english. Seems the Prime Minister wrote a little note about corruption in the present government and his involvement. Seems the TV station got a hold of it and aired it. Seems some people got peeved. God the rest of that vacation was boring in comparison. A Pearl Jam concert has some raucous moments don't get me wrong, but half way through it I leaned over to Fish and yelled "LAST WEEK A TANK WAS CHASING US DOWN IN A F***ING RIOT!!"
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photo by: Chokk