The Garden of Happiness


One day I was out shopping at the mall in downtown Budapest at West End City Centre Mall…



It’s a huge five-level mall!

mall buda


Not without its charms…




A bit disgruntled that I could not find a single thing I particularly wanted to buy, I was equally tired of walking and walking back and forth on five endless levels with no palpable results. Perhaps I should have been happy to save my money, but I was looking for things I thought I needed (you know how that is).


Finally, peeved, I stepped outside a back entrance to take a break…



Along the side was a drink stand selling Virgin Mojitos. People were scattered about sitting on ledges, and at a few tables on one side. Dying of thirst, I walked over and ordered one, watching him use fresh squeezed limes, fresh oranges, fresh mint leaves and chunky ice to make the most refreshing drink I think I’ve ever had…


Walking away looking for a nice shaded place where I might sit and enjoy my drink, I noticed a rose garden down a path nearby. As I walked towards it, I was more and more impressed every second…

DSC02340~ DSC02341~


There was a fountain in the centre, and a semi-circle of benches with a high lattice trestle wall laden thick with delicate roses…




A young couple sat on one end of the bench talking, feeding each other and taking “couple selfies” under a drape of pink, purple and red roses…




In the middle sat a little old lady who looked completely sad and forlorn. She looked heart-broken and full of despair, almost the opposite of the young couple so enraptured with each other.

Sad old senior woman with health problems

I wondered if someone had died, or if she was bitter with life after many disappointments. Maybe she had no money, though she was nicely dressed.


I sat at the other end of the bench near the old lady and was enveloped in the sweet scent of the roses. The aroma wafted down and around me, light and soft. It was a perfect sunny day with the slightest of breezes. Unlike the busy mall, it was quiet, a perfect peaceful oasis…



Every shade of pink from the palest pink to coral to salmon to the deepest purple was represented in what I dubbed the Garden of Happiness, because one could not help but smile.



Some roses were full and perfect; some were browning on the edges; others were fresh and new, just opening…

DSC02343 Closer

A lot like people, I thought to myself.


I smiled at the old lady. As I gestured at the beautiful roses, the bubbling fountain and the blue sky, we began a conversation, talking about the beauty of this little spot in the middle of busy downtown Budapest.


She spoke in Hungarian and I spoke in English but we understood each other perfectly.


Entranced with the beauty of the roses, I clicked photos left and right, up and down. Then I asked if I could take her photo. She blushed, smiled shyly, and nodded.



Noticing that she didn’t have a drink, and it was quite a hot day, I offered her the remainder of my drink, showing her that I had only used a straw. She shook her head no, but I tried again. Then she opened her purse and pulled out a bottle of water, showing me, and we both laughed.


I was reluctant to leave that shroud of roses. It felt warm and safe, and I felt like I had sort of made a friend.


By the time I left, the little old lady was all smiles. That was a good feeling. Now I was all smiles too. I turned to wave goodbye, and she waved back with a big happy smile from the Garden of Happiness.


Sometimes, making someone else happy can have the sweet and unexpected result of making you happy.


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2 Responses to The Garden of Happiness

  1. That was heartwarming, Shirl – and beautiful. I think you found exactly what you ‘needed’ even tho it was in the form of emotion rather than ‘stuff’. The memories are priceless, and it’s great that the ‘stranger and you’ struck up a conversation and made each other’s day, no doubt. Reminded me of the quote – it’s hard to spread rays of sunshine and not get any on yourself….love it.

  2. travellittleknownplaces says:

    You’re sooo right! It was exactly what I really needed, and hopefully her too. I don’t think I will ever forget this simple warm experience.

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