The cimbalom-player on the promenade appears to have died in mid-percuss. He's leaning slightly to one side, sitting up in front of his instrument with eyes wide open but devoid of movement, as is the rest of his body which stays there for minutes, then hours, without offering a note. This convinces the pigeons to assemble. One jumps on his instrument and strikes a delicate, faint glissando. Another nibbles at his laces. Eventually, a policeman — having paced this way several times already — comes across and, on receiving no response, gives him a tap on the shoulder. As the musician crumbles into fragments, each of a strangely-tinted glass, on the asphalt of the tourist-frequented promenade beside the scenic river, all possible tunes are struck — if only for an instant — in the chink of shard against shard.

Municipal workers sweep him away and normality resumes. White clouds floss the Danube. A hunched-up beggar on the Chain Bridge, seeing a tourist, puts her hands together and adopts a beseeching pose. On the far side, the kilometre zero sculpture marks the exact spot from which all distances are measured. This casts it into an eternal present. . . . something that any visitor can share, if briefly. I place a coin in its orifice, for luck, and return it to my pocket. Re-crossing the bridge, however, I find that it is hardly enough for alms. So I shrug my shoulders and the beggar mutters either a blessing or a curse — something that is more of a mutter than either alternative.

So the beggar mummifies, the bridges rust, the shadows melt into the ground like mushrooms and the city re-arranges itself around the zero stone. Time hammers us with its sticks, the minute and the second hands. . . against which, the thought that there is one week left, of a two-week holiday, seems not only trivial but absurd.

from Inscriptions — Pannonian voyages