I go around Csepel Island in Hungary quite often as my parents live in Szigetszentmárton. It’s a very chilled, stunningly beautiful place where time seems to have stopped. While driving out of the island, I noticed a lonely guy sitting on a hay stack, so I stopped the car and approached him. His name is István, 37 years old and he has been a shepherd since 14. At the time I was there, hundreds of sheep were peacefully staring and chewing around, making no trouble at all. He takes care of each, every day, including the weekends as he says “the animals do not stop, they are hungry on a Sunday as well” . The money is little, but food and accommodation comes with the job and he loves being outside in the nature.
His main concern is how difficult it has been finding a girl who would put up with him being “just” a shepherd. Dating opportunities are limited in the village and online dating sites rarely bring luck. I asked if he honestly advertises himself as a shepherd and he does, but nobody believes him. The sour surprise (his words) arrives together with him on the date, when the girl realises he was not joking around about his occupation.
He has three dogs, two of them are called Fürge (Sprightly) and one of them is Morzsi (Breadcrumb) who looked at him like he was GOD. All capital letters, yes, it was written in their eyes. He needed to say no words for the dogs to chase lost sheep back to the herd. I met another shepherd just the day before and in both cases I immediately noticed the unbreakable bond between man and dogs. They both talked about the dogs with upmost respect and referred to them as friends. Funnily enough, the other shepherd’s dog was called Morzsi, too.
As it turned out later on, he was checking Facebook on his smartphone while sitting on the hay stack, which I found a bit bizarre – having an ancient profession, while surfing around on Facebook, liking posts and sharing photos certainly made me feel ambivalent, not only about the fact itself, but about my own silly assumptions.