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"Let’s Take off Before We Die"

2006.10.24. 09:22 | ike

Since I live on Andrássy út (Budapest’s Champs Elysées sans the fancy fashion stores), I simply walk down the road to face a line of riot police blocking my way across Bajcsy Zsilinszky út on Monday, at around 6:20 PM. No traffic on the otherwise busy  four-lane street; many walk in the middle of the road. I see people covering their faces and wiping their tears off with handkerchiefs. Many of them are well-dressed tourists with cameras in their hands, some of them kids, all of them swimming in tear gas. The cloud is becoming thicker as I get close to the cops wearing helmets, armed with batons and protected by shields. About a hundred yards away, a large group of policemen are chasing rioters with grenades and water cannons that release fluid painted blue – I guess to facilitate identification.

Loud bangs, and a helicopter circling above the area. The smoke is becoming intolerable. Someone in the crowd says ’Let’s Take off Before We Die’. I agree. There must be better places to die. How about right in front of the water cannons?

I’m no Coppola, and it might not have been the Apocalypse, but here’s what I saw and heard Monday evening at Andrássy út and Bajcsy Zsilinszky út.

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