Tel Aviv Diary - May 19-23 2009- - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary - May 19-23, 2009 Karen Alkalay-Gut

May 19-23, 2009

May 19, 2009

If you're a Hebrew speaker, you might want to check out Orit's article on Ynet. If you can't read Hebrew you probably have problems with languages, perhaps as a result of ADHD - in that case you really NEED to read this article....

ADD and all those disorders seem to me to be a result in part of the tempo of contemporary life. too much to give attention your to.

Certainly it is hard to focus. I walked past two of my students in Zara today, and said in my usual academic tone, "Shalom." They kept walking, conversing in Arabic, and five seconds later turned around, and slowly a shocked look appeared on their faces. Then giggles all around.

But the business of context appears all over the place. Just before Zara I was getting rid of the feeling that I might have picked Ezi's flu up by stocking up on Lancome. "I heard about you," the salesgirl said. "This guy told me he was surprised you speak Hebrew - he says you only spoke English in class." Turns out the perfume guy took some classes with me. But I maintained my cool until she added, "Then he told us some of the things you say! My goodness!" I think i bought an extra lipstick just to cover my embarrassment.

May 20, 2009

ich shtarb avec - i had barely managed to begin to kvetch about catching Ezi's flu when the great computer divinity swooped down and restarted me. and you know i write on line (sometimes on this site first and sometimes on the other one - but always with a quick paste into the other one before i save.

Forget it, the unsaved is best forgotten.

Tomorrow is student day at the university - i used to enjoy it so much but nowadays classes end at 12 and the students go off and we have to stick around to figure out how we can possibly manage this semester. I should be better by tomorrow but i'd much rather be able to get into the spirit of 'almost summer' of the students then 'the winter of our discontent' of our faculty.

And we all know our students deserve the very best - equipment, teachers, support - most of them only get to university after army service so they are much older, and many many have to work to support themselves (at least 20 hours a week) so they are not allowed to live the life of the American or British campus. When I was a student I was pretty amazed by the special treatment I got, and the money and the encouragement was the cause of my success, such that it is. The students here have to have much more determination than I ever needed to get through a degree, that's for sure.

May 20, 2009 Jerusalem - I manage to avoid it as much as possible, but next week and the week after I've got to be there - in Parliament one day, for readings another day, and then for filming a student film. But even though I try to stay away from wandering in the city, I know - as everyone who has been there knows - it is already divided. The wall is part of it, and the separate populations are another. Walls are all over the city - there is almost no mingling of peoples. So Bibi's little reassurance today that Jerusalem will always remain 'united' seems an empty statement.

But who am I to judge the holy city? I who just don't like being intimidated by my environment... It's not really an objective view, but i prefer a neighborhood that accomodates my needs.

I did a little circle around the campus to see what was going on with Student Day, but was sufficiently unimpressed to go home after my first purchase. My purchase looks promising though. it was a series on learning Arabic from Minerva press - book and disk. The last time I bought one it was Egyptian, and the accent and the focus was wrong. I don't need to know about hotels and ordering in Cairo. I need more local vocabulary. Some people could carry on a conversation with the Arabic I have, but me i need more confidence and control - only if i'm really in trouble will the words come out. The same is true of French and German. And Italian too now that I think of it.

Maybe that's my problem with Jerusalem too - i need to know more.

May 21, 2009

As part of our Sabbath preparations, we found ourselves in little kosher Sweden, the always crowded and frightfully expensive Ikea. (It's still cheaper then buying local) We used to shop Ikea in the U.S. but that always seemed like a regular American outlet store with pretensions of sophistication. The Ikea here, as anyone who has shopped there or read my diary knows, is multicultural - with as much Arabic, Russian, and French as Hebrew. People here seem to treat it like a disneyland for adults, and today i noticed a (rather large) family going around from living room to living room and taking little family portraits, even going so far as to dismantle a little crate of wine glasses so they could toast the camera.

We followed that experience with a little visit to Tiv Tam, which has much more of a foreign flavor. It's the Russian supermarket, and you will find little that is Jewish there. As I waited in line for a chicken, waiting for the woman before me to get her ham wrapped and conversing with the butcher, I suddenly realized I understood their conversation. I only needed a few words of Russian for this: Sabaka (dog) Amstiff (mastiff) viechera (dinner) and Bog'zniyet (God knows). So I turned to her and said to her, in Hebrew, that I could follow what they said. She looked at me blankly. Later the butcher confided that lots of people in this country dont understand Hebrew. There was no need to learn.

The time has come to vote. which blog do i keep up? Why not comment here

May 23, 2009

I had the dream tour in mind today - Neve Tsedek, lunch at Suzanna's, a walk through the grounds, past the cute shops, some ice cream. We wanted to make Marita and Joe's last day ideal. (You can take a virtual tour of your own here). But the sun or too much lunch made me black out and we forgot to tell most of the great stories about the place. So our tour went something like, "Hey, Chelouche Street! Ezi, aren't you related to that guy, Chelouche?" "Yeah." Neve Tsedek means oasis of justice, and there are innumerable tales to be told about almost every house in the neighborhood. I didn't even remember we did a Hebrew video clip there Saper-li in which I play an aging shrink who tries unsuccessfuly to seduce a patient. The best part of the clip is when he races down the street and passes the band sitting on the steps, or in the park. You can even see Shusha there.

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