Fostering relations between countries and within the family - this is the main theme of the article written for the Witty Leaks section of a recent issue of Diplomacy & Trade by the Deputy Head of Mission at the Embassy of Iraq in Budapest, Dr. Diary Ahmed Majid.
Many people say that diplomatic life is like the life of nomads since diplomats change their place of work and residence every few years and ‘migrate’ elsewhere. This saying is true to some extent.
I have personally changed places four times during my ten years of diplomatic work, coming to Budapest twice. True, the first time, I was moved from Prague to Budapest for only eight months, but this time, I have been working here since 2011. Since my appointment is for four years, it expires next year, which means I will have to move again.
I have to admit that this posting in Budapest is a bit like being a diplomat at home because Hungary – and Budapest in particular – is like a second home for me. There are two reasons. On the one hand – as they say in Hungarian – half of me is Hungarian because my wife is a Hungarian girl. We have been together for 24 years, married for 17 years and have brought up two children. Our son, Armin is 14 years old while his sister Lisa is 12.
The other reason I feel at home here is that I graduated from university here after seven full years as a student. Also, I had been coming to Hungary regularly to conduct academic studies before I acquired my PhD diploma. As a result, I am so familiar with Budapest that while driving around in the city, my mother-in-law often asks me: "are you from Budapest, were you born here?"
Perhaps, some people would think that this is not as interesting as when a diplomat first goes to a country. My response is that Budapest is a city where you can always find something new as it is constantly evolving, changing and all the time serves as venue for more and more political, cultural and social events.
I always tell my friends that it has been a great opportunity for me to live in the most beautiful cities of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire: in Vienna, of which an Egyptian singer of the 1930s wrote in a song that "the air of Vienna is like heaven"; in Prague, which is a beautiful city; and in the magical Budapest which no one will never want to leave.
I am not the only one who says this, but also many other foreigners with whom I have had the opportunity to talk about Budapest. I know a lot of foreigners, former students – not only from the countries of the East but also from European countries – with whom I once studied and who eventually settled down in Hungary.
One of the main advantages of diplomatic life is that there is the possibility to get to know different cultures. This especially has a very positive impact on the children of diplomats. We, my kids, not only have this advantage, but also the advantage of living in a mixed-culture marriage, and this is not only beneficial in terms of learning the language but also allows us to belong to a wider, broader, bigger ‘world’.
In Hungary, our children attend a bilingual school where we know many other multicultural families. In addition, our son and daughter have several hobbies: handball, horse-riding, capoeira, ballet. We often organize joint programs with other families.
During the first meetings, we usually hear questions about my work as a diplomat, how I speak Hungarian so well, why the license plate of our car is blue, etc. My answer is that the job of a diplomat is to foster relations between the two countries, and jokingly add that for me, there is a double interest because it is not only the two countries' relations that are nurtured but also the relations of my family.
On the way to work
Just like in other families, my kids must be taken to school in the morning during the school year. It's my job, and then, I go to my workplace. I do not really like to drive a car in the city, so, during the summer school holidays, taking advantage of the situation, I leave the car at home and go by public transport to the Embassy.
This is positive in many ways. First, I get some exercise. Also, there is no traffic stress. But the best thing about this is that on public transport, I can observe and learn a lot of things. Many people go to work and, taking advantage of the time, they read, or – thanks to new technology – fiddle with their smartphone. However, as I have noticed, a lot of older people who wake up early, travel in the morning, maybe just out of habit to go somewhere.
Another good thing in going to work by public transport is that at the subway stations, you can get very fine bakery products. My favorites are the freshly baked scones and cheese burek. The fine smell reaches me from afar; I cannot resist temptation and I consume my breakfast in transit – complimented by coffee at the Embassy.
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