As I move ever closer to the prime of my life I find myself thinking about annual cycles and their markers more and more. Perhaps because each year there are more and more...
My latest reflection came as I walked back up the delightful Pozsonyi utca early one afternoon, thinking about the chilly January wind blowing over my shaved head. This particular reflection had been triggered by my latest session with Anna, my fodraszat, or hairdresser.
When I arrived in January 2010 I looked around for a `barber's`, but all I could find were women's hairdressing salons. Not wishing to make some western European metrosexual faux pas I asked my colleague Balint if he could suggest somewhere I could go. He recommended a place on Hollan Erno utca, and made me an appointment. So one winter lunchtime I duly walked down the ice-covered pavements in the sub-zero temperatures to organise my first Hungarian haircut.
I nervously walked into the salon clutching my Lonely Planet phrasebook and mumbled "hajvagas". Anna pointed to the chair and I sat down so that we could discuss style. Back in the UK I had a No. 1 all over, but this meant nothing to her, as she spoke no English. So we experimented with a succession of ever shorter passes until we got to a length that felt right - harom milimetres, three mm.
Ever since that day, every three or four weeks I go back to the same place, smile, say "Jo napot", sit down and get my 3mm cut. So we now have a relationship, and one that grows a little each time as my Hungarian vocabulary increases.
So as I walked up Pozsonyi utca the other day I smiled to myself about our conversation that day, which had.covered the date of my last visit, where we had each spent Christmas, our presents, her favourite perfume, my wife's favourite perfume, the price of a bottle of that, and which ended.with my final, pithy male observation that "Minden nok draga", all women are expensive, an observation whose enunciation in terrible Hungarian caused great amusement around the salon.
Learning Hungarian has been a long haul, and I can still only manage absolute basics, but it is worth it for moments like that, when I can make some unexpexted connection with another human being.