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Ten years in Camphill Accounts of a volunteer vagabond filled with copious amounts of wanderlust

The fisherman

ROMANIA | Friday, 21 November 2014 | Views [146]

When I was a kid, one of my favourite books was The Boys of Paul street written by Ferenc Mora. I felt that I could identify myself with many of the characters, and I secretly wished to have my own “grund”.

The novel is about schoolboys in the rapidly developing Budapest at the turn of the 20th century, who defend their playground, the "grund", from the "redshirts", a team of other boys who want to occupy it. The boys regard the "grund" as their "Fatherland", constitute themselves its "National Army" and constantly use all the terminology of nationalism as common at the time in Hungary as elsewhere in Europe.

The "battle", fought with "sandbombs", ends when the smallest and weakest boy, Ernő Nemecsek, whom the other boys earlier mistakenly thought a "traitor", dies. Nemecsek, already gravely ill, dies of the effects of pneumonia after joining the battle in spite of his serious illness.

Soon after his death, the boys are chased off their beloved "grund"/"Fatherland" by engineers who inform them that an apartment building will be erected on the spot.

As I said earlier, I secretly wished to have my own “grund”, and I thought that one day I’ll be able to persuade some of the boys in my grandmother’s village to join me to form our own team in a quest to fight back the invisible “redshirts”.


Now that I think of it, they weren’t all that invisible either. All the tourists and people spending their free weekend by the riverside were considered by me “redshirts”. I loved the river; I knew all its sections lying next to the village. And I felt bothered by these tourists arriving late in the morning, burning their stakes, drinking their beers, washing their cars, fishing like amateurs.


I wanted peace and calm, because I was trying to catch a really big fish. I had a very good bamboo fishing rod which I used very proudly for a few years.

My friend and I, the two Zsolt’s, we used to disappear in the bush, competing with each other over who could catch more fish. We had dozens of techniques, we used different types of worms, bread soaked in water, sweet corn, insects we found other rocks called “karasz”. In those times there were plenty of fish in the river.


Once I discovered a place, where the fish were biting very well, and I went there with my sister to try our luck. We caught about 80 fish in an hour. We were really proud, went back to our grandmother’s house, I gutted them, and my grandmother fried them in a pan. Lots of small gutted headless fish rolled in flour and egg yolk…it was a delicacy!! And I caught them, with my sis.


I liked the quiet, and I felt that I owned the river starting from the bridge by the “bodega” all the way up to another bridge with rail lines on it. This was my river!  At times I was there with the wind, the sun on my back, changing my fishing locations often moving barefoot through the river or through a path in a sweet corn bush. The other village boys gave me tips about where I could find a good spot, where the bigger fish might be. There was a place called “the Root” where we used to go swimming in the afternoons. During the mornings this place was an excellent spot for fishing. My friend, the other Zsolt had taught me how to catch fish with my bare hands. I really enjoyed that method, and the place such as “the Root” was the ideal place for this.

I knew different types of fish. There was one, which had an obscene but funny name. It was called the “pussy cutter”. Once I caught this fish and it bit me. Hence the funny name. It must’ve bitten many other people before.


On one of the afternoons, I managed to catch a huge fish. Well, it was huge for me, it probably weighed about 500 grams, and it was the biggest fish I ever caught. I used fresh sweet corn as bait, it was still milky inside. And when I saw the float disappear very fast, then my heart started to pound very fast too. I used the good ol’ tiring technique, where I let the fish run and then slowly pull it back, and then let it go again, and carry on playing with it, till it gets completely exhausted, and then I could pull it out of the water without breaking the hook in its mouth and letting it slip away.


That was it then. I quickly packed up, and started walking back home. People on my way home wanted to buy the fish from me, but I didn’t sell it to them. I think I was too proud to do such a thing. Instead I’ve taken it back to my grandma’s house, and after the usual gutting process, my dad said that he knows of a ways to take all the bones out in one go. And with that, in the evening I ate the best fish fillet in my life…

Tags: fishing; childhood

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