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YKRA FACES: ANNA OTT

It’s time for a fresh round of our YKRA FACES series, and this month we’re back with another exciting guest, Anna Ott. She’s been a long-time fixture on Budapest’s literary scene as Café Hadik’s Artistic Director and will be giving us a peek inside not just her YKRA gear, but also into her everyday life filled with books, coffee, dogs and more!

Hi there Anna, could you please tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do?

I work in literature, but what I’m really interested in is the reading part.


For the past seven years I’ve been the Artistic Director of Café Hadik, and it feels like my main job. I take care of all the art and cultural programmes, as well as the café’s communications and image. I’m also part of the team that organises the Margó Festival of Literature and Book Fair - it’s held twice a year, and is definitely my second great love.


For the past two years, I’ve also been teaching at Metropolitan University. In one of my courses - Cultural Spaces - we visit theatres and publishing houses, and get to meet with musicians and artists. Basically, it’s super interesting as we're looking at where and how culture is evolving in Budapest. In my other class, we managed Margó Festival’s online communication. I always missed the element of hands-on, real-life experience from my uni years, but here we can take a different approach. It’s been a challenging and new experience for me, but I’m really enjoying it. 


So to sum things up, I would say my job revolves around these 3 areas. 

 

What does a typical day of yours look like?


Well, we’ve been living in unusual times and after a year of such hardship behind us, with the pandemic and all, my work has not exactly “closed”, but the places themselves have been closed. Everything we had planned was cancelled. 


I get up early, have my morning coffee, take the dogs out for a walk (our fave spot is at Three Border Mountain - Hármashatár-hegy) and then I like to have an hour to myself to just read, because it really sets the tone of my day. Also, I try to only schedule meetings for after my daily dosage of reading and then I usually work from home or attend meetings with the team at Hadik Café or Margó Fest.


Reading books is the basis of everything I do, so I have to consciously set aside time for it. I can't just “read when I get around to it”, as in a way, it’s actually my job. 


I remember telling my Mom that one day, I’ll have a job where I can drink coffee all day - and I think I pretty much nailed it! Of course, there are stressful periods too, but I love what I do. Right now, we’re in the middle of organising Margó, so it’s intense.


At the end of a day, well, my evenings are made for wine, either at home or with others.

What about your bag, where’s it from?


Actually, that’s an interesting story. I’ve loved YKRA for ages! But the reason I never had one was because I could never just decide on just one... “Which one should I choose?” was always my main question!


Luckily, we started organising wardrobe fairs at Szatyor Bar, which we’ve been doing for the past three years. I ended up getting both of my YKRA bags there. In the past few years it’s almost the only place I've been buying clothes and gear, as I don't have to pick them out, they're simply there, there’s only one, so it’s way easier to make a decision. Plus I find the treasures grow on me, as they already have a story. 

What’s in your bag?


Book: I discovered the works of writer Péter Nádas during quarantine, and it’s been such a blessing! I’m reading his first novel, The Bible.


Notebook: Ever since I can remember, I’ve been taking notes by hand. I just can’t write memos on a laptop.

Fountain Pen: I got this pen as a gift from graphic designer Balázs Sikó for my 30th birthday. It’s really grown close to my heart and I carry it everywhere with me.


Lipstick: I love lipstick, and although I haven’t really been able to use it in the past year (thank you masks) I still wear lipstick for Zoom meetings, and sometimes even at home! For some reason, lipsticks are a big part of my life.


Jewelry: I really treasure these family heirlooms, and I’ve been wearing them a lot lately. The earrings were my Mom’s, while the necklace was my Dad’s. Just like my YKRA bags, these are also pre-loved and have a story of their own.

Photos by Sára Petrák

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