I grew up in a little village (Maroslele) only a stone’s throw from two international borders in Southern Hungary, one leading to Romania, and the other to Serbia (still Yugoslavia back in the day). Now this village is a “sleepy hollow” indeed, as if time would have come to a complete halt there. Of course you don’t really get to notice this while you are sheltered by this very “bell jar”. Maybe this is why I never got to cross these two borders (or any other borders) until I was 20 years old. Eventually, my belated first longer cross-border trips led not to the two nearby Southern countries but in the opposite direction, to Slovakia, to Austria, to Germany, a 2007 train journey being my most significant travel experience then.

Ten years later I faced an opportunity to travel to Cluj-Napoca/Kolozsvár in Romania. I decided right away that I’d celebrate the 10th anniversary of that trip to the North/West with a similarly extensive train journey to the East/South. And of course, I wanted to play a bit with the old photos, reproducing variations of some of my older pics. So many things have changed (most importantly, I spent three years working in one of those neighboring countries), and it took a while to realise that one of the most powerful forces shaping my life is this enduring tension between East and West.

Sitting on the train watching a photo taken while I was sitting on a train
My reading (an English book) then…
… and now (a Hungarian book)

And in the rest of the series, YOU decide which is West, which is East