Hip HIPA Hurray!
Photo by Mark Milstein
Click photo to enlarge
The Hungarian International Press Association (HIPA) has just celebrated its 10-year anniversary! I feel like a proud father. (The creation of HIPA and the organization of its initial meetings was largely the brain power and elbow grease of myself and Hungarian publicist Ferenc Blaskovics.)
I don't actually recognize many from the photo of the event beside Kester (standing in the back), Duncan Shiels (seated, left), Florence La Bruyere (seated, right) and Adam LeBor (standing, back right corner). A few other faces look familiar (I know I know the guy in the red shirt all the way to the right, but I can't place him (is that Nick Thorpe?)). Please ID any others you can.
Continue reading below to see Kester Eddy's email account of the anniversary party (Kester is HIPA's newly elected president), as well as some of my own recollections of the early days of HIPA that I sent to Kester as an email for him to read to those assembled.
From the feeback last night everybody seemed to enjoy it, certainly seemed a great atmosphere to me, so thanks to everyone who came and helped make it go.
For those who did not make it, we had around 30 faces, some from pre-history (Nick Thorpe, Duncan Shiels, Florence La Bruyere, Tibor Vidos, me....) to recent arrivals (Mark Milstein, Gareth Corsi...) with a smattering from all years in between. Agi and Eszter (of course), and Amar, whose staff did a great job on the catering side. (At the end we had a group photo or two, including all the restaurant staff. The cooks in particular seemed thrilled to be acknowledged and invited out for their picture to be taken with the group. Thanks Mark.)
I originally invited Amar to say a few words about the cuisine, but he said let it speak for itself, so after tucking in for an hour Duncan and I gave a short, very potted history of HIPA's first decade, including pre-natal stage, with some input from Rick Bruner via email.
Florence added a little known anecdote about Medgyessy which nearly meant an end to diplo relations between Budapest, HIPA and Paris, and Nick stood up to say even his wife thinks we are a good bunch (so we can fool people after all).
Whether many of us will be here to commemorate the twentieth birthday of HIPA I don't know, but I wonder if we can turn this date (well, say the last Friday in January) into a regular event ?
That way, old hands thinking of visiting Budapest around this time could actually plan any such trip around the event.
Here, meanwhile, are some of my own recollections of the early days of organizing HIPA, from an email I wrote to Kester before the event:
As for HIPA, by all means, give them my regards. The only anecdote that stands out in my mind about the whole thing was my forgetting to show up at the inaugural meeting. To remind you, HIPA was actually, as I recall, the idea of Hungarian political publicist Ferenc Blaskovics, and I eagerly went along with it -- or we both had a similar idea simultaneously, or something. I did my part to rally my foreign-press contacts to attend the kick-off meeting. I think we might have had a brainstorming session or two (in some beery pince, I vaguely recall) first to assure ourselves there was indeed interest. So we then scheduled the official first meeting at which we would elect officers, etc.
Somehow, however, I was scheduling two things simultaneously -- a reporting junket / vacation with Adi, and this HIPA meeting, and I failed to observe they conflicted. I was sitting on a train down to Slovenia when I suddenly sat up and shouted, "*$&@! What's the date?" Meanwhile, back in Budapest, so I've been told, they sat around waiting for me for 45 minutes, assuming I would chair that meeting, till Duncan stepped up and volunteered. Naturally, he was subsequently elected president, which I never regretted, as he did a great job leading it that first year and I had more than enough on my plate back then. Anyway, certainly an amusing start to things, from my point of view, in retrospect, anyway.
Also, I remember cooking a Thanksgiving dinner in the restaurant of the Hungarian Press Club for HIPA members and Hungarian Press Club members, some 75 people or something, as I recall. I was most grateful that not a single American besides my dad showed up, so they couldn't observe how far off a real traditional Thanksgiving dinner it was. Was working with the head chef of the Hungarian Press Club, who was completely baffled by the point of this odd meal. Worst was the pumpkin pie, cooked not in small round pie pans, as it should be, but in large industrial rectangular pans. The pie crust (always the hardest part of a pie -- I always buy them pre-made in the store here when I make pie these days) was like shoe leather. All the diners, however, seemed to be very impressed. Or, at least they were very polite about it.
Would love to hear the recollections of any of the rest of you on this (especially Duncan, as he saved my bacon that night), or comments on how it has progressed since then.
hello from Emmanuelle Richard
Cheers from Los Angeles,
A quick introduction to explain a frog's presence on this site: I went to Budapest in December '94, at the age of 22, to fulfill my dream of living in a country I had fallen in love with in the late '80s, thanks to a Hungarian Cure fan and penpal. I had spent the summer of '93 as an intern at The Daily News, the English-language weekly from the MTI agency, while writing my thesis about FIDESZ. In France, I was actually a subscriber to the Budapest Week, so when I moved to Hungary, I already loved the paper and knew all these people's bylines by heart.
In Budapest, I gradually became a freelance correspondent for various French media (my first published article from Hungary was for a communist weekly!) and wrote quite a few stories for Budapest Week in bad English. Learned a lot about journalism thanks to the editing of Chris and Julius, as well as Adam's advices. I fondly remember my time at the Budapest International Press Center on Liszt Ferenc Tér, with one phone line for the 5 freelancers sharing the room, and Cafe Incognito right at the corner. I met my husband Matt when he was managing editor of the Budapest Business Journal. Some people remember the birthday party for me he organized at the Gellért Baths, sponsored by Lifestyles condoms, and our farewell party at the Rudas in December '97, which made Anita Altman's column in the Budapest Sun.
Then it was time for us to leave town. After a silly attempt at moving to Cuba, we settled in Los Angeles, where we're both freelancing and leading a happy life under the sun. I often dream of returning to Budapest, but in the meantime it's important to keep in touch with friends from this magical era. You can contact me through my site emmanuelle.net and click email.
More pics of the Pezsgô-fueled New Year's eve party in Budapest
Hi from California,
Four pages of superior DJing and silly dancing here:
Someone mentioned that the songs played at our parties are still the same 10 years later... So is the energy level, if you look at the 2 men in red in particular.
Sylvie in Thialand
Sylvie Csorba, who held a range of jobs at BpWeek in the early years, including design, distribution and business opps, has surfaced. She just sent an email with photos from her recent trip to Thailand.
Rick's Budapest SnapsGranted, I'm no Bruno Bourel, but I snapped a few shots of street scenes while in Budapest that I thought you might like to see.
Reunion Party PicsDamn, we're all still so interesting, successful and good looking!
(Click pics to enlarge and then follow the built-in navigation links from one to the next.)
At the moment I’m in San Francisco and love it. I lived in Budapest from 1993-1995 and worked at Budapest Week as the advertising rep. and for Anderson Consulting as an overpaid assistant to the General Manager. I left in 1995 and traveled through India, Nepal and Southeast Asia before landing in San Francisco. And for the record, I didn’t get deadly sick in India like everyone in Budapest feared. I met a Brazilian in 1997 while traveling in Egypt. We did the back and forth thingy for a bit, I moved to Sao Paulo, Brazil for a year and then we relocated to San Francisco in 2000. We eventually split up. Currently I’m a marketing manager, but hope the economy here has improved enough to make a job/career change in 2004. For fun lately, I’ve been taking Spanish classes, traveling to Spanish-speaking counties (did the Inca trail to Machu Picchu in Oct. '03), and learning how to tango and swing dance. If you’re ever in San Francisco, look me up.
New Year's, Budapest, 2004Names have been omitted to protect the innocent, guilty and privacy nerds. Suffice it to say, much fun was had by all.