I love my city.

It is an amazing cultural and social cavalcade. It is neither too big, nor too small, it is neither in the center of all the attentions, but yet appreciated by the connoisseurs. It is a place where beautiful historical features are mixed with nightlife hot-spots, where you can shout and jump at one of the biggest music festivals of the region or practise modern dance, go to the weirdest contemporary art performance, stand in a 2-hour line to see Klimt’s canvases, or attend a lecture of the Dalai Lama.

I never thought about what Budapest was missing.

But now I know:

you

Budapest is missing all of your 45 faces and names and cultures and smiles and tears and laughs and dances and colours and dreams and love-hearts.

You all went home to recover from the past very intense months, and Budapest has never been so empty. But I am full with you.

Thank you!

What pops in my mind about November? Definitely the end of sunny days, cold, rain, or maybe even the first snow, All Saints Day, the Beaujolais Nouveau, Thanksgiving, the approaching examination period and Christmas. Well, all this is valid. However November has also another feature that only few people know: November is the month of MOvember!

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  • The total volume of water on Earth is about 1.4 billion km3. The volume of freshwater resources is around 35 million km3, or about 2.5% of the total volume.
  • The total usable freshwater supply for ecosystems and humans is about 200 000 km3 of water – less than 1% of all freshwater resources.

  • 1.4 million children die every year as a result of diseases caused by unclean water and poor sanitation.This is about 4,000 deaths a day.
  • Washing hands with soap can reduce the risk of diarrhoeal diseases by up to 47%.
  • The daily drinking water requirement per person is 2-4 litres, but it takes 2 000 to 5 000 litres of water to produce one person’s daily food.
  • It takes 1 000-3 000 litres of water to produce just 1kg of rice and 13 000 to 15 000 litres to produce 1kg of grain-fed beef.

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On Monday, 4 October 2010, at 12.10 pm, a tsunami of toxic red sludge flooded seven villages in western Hungary, including Kolontár, Devecser and Somlóvásárhely. Over 1,000,000 m3 of mud has leaked out of the reservoir of the MAL Zrt, the 60-year alumina production company located in Ajka.

Nine people – including a little baby who slipped out of her mother’s hands and an old woman doing gardening around her house – died, taken away by the sudden flood. More than hundred people were injured, mostly by the burning effects of the mug having a PH of 13, and several hundreds of them had to be relocated as their house and village became uninhabitable.

Ecologically speaking the area is ruined too and although lands could be cleaned up, rivers may never recover from this catastrophe.

The red sludge is the largest volume of toxic waste in Hungary.  Taking into consideration that it is an amazingly lucrative business, it is likely to continue, however we should keep in mind that for one tonne of alumina, around two tonnes of toxic waste are produced, most of them stored in similar reservoirs, subject to similar catastrophes.

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Imagine a huge pink and blue baobab tree waiting to be hugged. Imagine colourful wallets made out of recycled boxes. Imagine delicious home-made snacks and a fair trade coffee bar. And most of all, imagine a bunch of enthusiastic young people from all over the world who joined their knowledge, creativity and will to make a difference in their community.

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Energia Klub, one of the leading Hungarian NGOs working on energy issues, joined in 2009 the European League of Renewable Energy Competition and launched the Suncrown Championship aiming to encourage our cities and villages to shift to renewable energy resources.

More about the competition and the winners here.

Do you know how many types of lamps are lighting the Freedom Bridge? How many wing-beats do pigeons to fly away when you step among them? Did you know that two joyful putti decorate the façade of the building at the entrance of the new Vaci street, and one of them is showing his back? That between the Freedom Bridge and the Chain Bridge tourists can spend their money in 18 different souvenirs shops? Did you know that Charles XII of Sweden took a rest in Budapest during his long journey back home, and that there is a memorial tablet in the city center reminding us this event? That there is a blurred Serbian inscription on the building next to the House of the General Assembly of Budapest? And do you know who is that horizontally challenged soldier confidently standing in Zrinyi street?

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„I am very optimistic”, said the Dalai Lama when he was asked about the future of Tibet yesterday afternoon at the Auditorium of CEU. After having found the only Chinese student in the audience, he addressed his words especially to her, emphasizing his absolute respect towards China and his conviction that the situation of Tibet will be harmonized.

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