John Taylor: an English computer programmer working for a multinational company in Budapest, Hungary. Andrea Taylor: John's wife, and a teacher of Hungarian.
Kati Taylor: John and Andrea's baby daughter.
Zsolt: a man who has a bar in Budapest's Thirteenth District.
Janos Szabo: John Taylor's doppelganger, a Hungarian man who died in the 1956 revolution.
Mrs Fischer:an old lady who knew Janos Szabo.
Paul Harris: an old friend of John Taylor's.
A strange meeting
I was walking home from my office one January evening. It was a Monday. The weather was very cold, and there were some low clouds around the tops of the buildings. Once I'd left the main road, there weren't many people in the dark, narrow streets of Budapest's Thirteenth District.Everything was very quiet. It felt as if the city was waiting for something.
As I walked I thought about what had happened at work. I had argued with one of the Hungarians I worked with. It was the first serious problem since I'd arrived. I was trying to think what to do about it, and I was also hoping that my wife, Andrea, had made one of her nice hot soups for dinner.
After about five minutes itstarted to snow heavily, so that the streets were soon completely white. As I was walking along a very dark part of one street there was the noise of a door shutting loudly inside a building. Then I heard the sound of someone running.
Suddenly, the street door opened and a man came out of it and ran straight into me. I fell over into the snow, shouting something like, 'Hey, watch where you'regoing!' - my words were loud in the empty street. The man turned to look at me for a moment. 'Sorry,' he said very quietly, in Hungarian, before walking quickly away.
What I saw at that moment, in that dark winter street was very strange, and I felt very afraid. Because what I saw was me. My face looking down at me. My mouth saying sorry.
Getting to know me
Perhaps I'd bettertell you something about me before I go on with the rest of this story.
My name is John Taylor, and I'm 34 years old. I'm nearly two metres tall, with light brown hair and eyes and I have a moustache. I'm a computer programmer. Four years ago, my company in Bristol became part of a very large multinational computer company - you would know the name if I told you. I was offered the chance to go andwork in their Budapest office. They needed someone to lead a young Hungarian team in an important new piece of work. I was very pleased. It was a better job in the company, and I thought it would be really interesting to work in another country, one I'd never visited.
Like many British people, I thought I knew three things about Hungary: the Danube cuts the capital into two halves, Buda and Pest;the Hungarian football team had once beaten England 6 - 3 in London, and people eat hot goulash all the time.
There was a lot to learn! And I learnt quickly.
The company sent me to Hungarian language classes at a special school. Hungarian is very different from English. I had one-to-one lessons with a pretty teacher called Andrea.
She was a lovely young woman, with dark brown hair, blue eyesand a beautiful smile, and she seemed to understand me very well. Our lessons soon became lessons outside class hours, and slowly we fell in love. Eighteen months later we got married.
Each day of the week I walk to work and back from our flat in the Thirteenth District. I work in a new office on Vaci urca, and it takes me about thirty minutes to get there. My usual working day is half past eightin the morning to six in the evening. I generally enjoy my work. The offices are light and modern, and I like the people I work with.
Andrea works at different times during the day, teaching Hungarian to foreigners in a number of schools and companies. She also teaches some students at home.
We live on the Pest side of the city, not far from the Danube. The old part of the Thirteenth District...