Tel Aviv Diary December 18-22, 2008- - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary - December 18-22, 2008 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

December 18, 2008

So I'll never be a fortune teller. Livni won and Mofaz didn't. The possibility of a new world is before us. I had a moment of doubt last night. But would I have trusted Madoff? probably not - he promised too much.

The whole trick I think is to work on as small a scale as possible.

Since a few queries have reached me about where I keep my dog when I go away, I will share my secret with all of you Hagit's Animal House. Hagit is one of the best professionals I know in the business and it is worth it for me to drive into the center of the city to leave Shusha with her. Shusha is a problematic neurotic canine who had problems getting along with others, but when she's at Hagit's she behaves like the elegant dog she appears to be and comes back happy and calm.

I want to put a picture of a cat on line today - sleeping on the newspapers, looking perfectly comfortable with today's news. It may take me until tomorrow to upload it, but the news is current. Look for it tomorrow.

In general I try to take my lead about the news from the animals around me.

We've been getting the local economic newspaper, Globes, as a free trial for a month. It is wonderful because Shusha is paper-trained and can pee on the stock market, the details of the investment companies, as well as the politics of "Haaretz." A real release for me.

December 19, 2008

After gym class this morning, I raced to the university where there was a reception for Tel Aviv Stories, an anthology of short stories written by English speaking writers and published in honor of the 100 year anniversary by Ang-Lit. Haaretz describes it here. I have a little piece called "The Center."

After that I grabbed Linda and raced to Beit Leyvick in order to get the order of what I'll have to do as a hostess tomorrow evening. We arrived early and got to see a film of Daniel Galay's Opera, "Haya and Haim," in Yiddish. Then I grabbed the poems and order, and raced off. Friday is a short day and I used to find it very relaxing, but lately it is my last chance before Shabbat to get things done and I seem to have more to do. But it looks like a great program.

December 20, 2008

This morning I - there being nothing else on television (which has literally gone down the tubes around here) - was watching some show about babies and the fact that they recognize individual primate faces until the age of six months, when all primates except humans look alike to them. The explanation about brain synapses needed for human identification didn't work for me. I was thinking that maybe people only recognize others as individuals when their behavior is as as an individual. Maybe that's why Hamas made such fun of Gilad Shalit's heart-wrenching desire to return to his parents. They cannot recognize him in any way as an individual, but as part of the system they believe is the cause of their problems. Recognizing individuals is something you learn in your society. I was thinking - free associating - really, that if women on the street have their faces covered, there is no way to identify their individuality. They cannot be recognized as people.

Phyllis said something interesting today that fits in - that in the U.S. a woman has to buy clothes that do not seem different, but fit in with the model. Nevertheless the clothes, she said, should have some distinguishing feature for which a person gets compliments, which she shrugs off immediately as insignificant. This conversation took place in Comme-il-faut, while we were having lunch and then looking around at the clothes. And the business of individuality came up with the food as well. Whenever we go to Pappa's with guests from the States, they always asks for alternatives to the menu. "Can I have the Pizza without sausage but with peppers and onions?" or "What if I order the pasta from the first item, but with the sauce from the third?" They're pretty accomodating there, and of course I go to Pappa's alot, so I have gotten used to it. But recently we've had a lot of experiences where the waiter goes back and asks the kitchen and then comes back again with a refusal. At Rocca's, for example, the argument went as far as the manager. My friend wanted a hard boiled egg and was refused and the manager sat down at our table and explained that it would be impossible. Later Oren explained to me that the problem in changing items and combinations on the menu is one of inventory and cost-accounting as well as efficiency in the kitchen. But at Comme-il-faut, the waiter, Edan, managed to find a way to get us what we want, and continued to smile.


December 21, 2008

What a coincidence that St. Lucy's Day, the shortest day of the year, is the same day as the first candle of Hannukah. It's the day that really needs light.

And boy, do we need light. The rockets are falling on Sderot and can now get to Beersheva, Ashdod, etc.. and every alternative is bad.

On the other hand I find myself the funniest I've been in a long time. Take for instance as the vet was delicately cutting out the stitches from Shusha's back as I am holding on to her. "Will she be able to wear a bikini?" I ask him and he started shaking. "She could do better than that - she can go nude," he said, and pulled the last stitch out.

December 22, 2008

I don't want to talk about Sylvia Rosenberg's death. It is too much.

Instead I will mention the evening at Beit Leyvick on Saturday night. I will never understand why they don't advertise these evenings better. There is so much going on there. This evening was a muiltilingual reading of Jewish poetry. There were readings in Polish, Hebrew, Russian, Georgian, Ladino, English and of course, Yiddish. But my reading was the strangest to me - I was asked to read a poem in Friulian.

Daniel got it off this site . It took me a number of readings to understand the poem at all, but now I know it is about the edelweiss and the soldiers who were lost in World War I.

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