Tel Aviv Diary Nov 18 - 22, 2004 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary - from November 18 -22, 2004 Karen Alkalay-Gut

November 18, 2004

After a day of building frustrations, plaster in my eyes and underwear, and climbing over boxes to get to the screwdriver and my eyeliner...we dragged ourselves to the Cameri theatre to see the premiere of "Requiem" by Hanoch Levin. I had promised to check the translation subtitles and take my translator as well as my kids, so despite total exhaustion and the rain (another big story) we went. There were not enough tickets in my name, and i had to stand in a long line to find that out. So we fell into our seats (in very different areas of the theatre) at the last moment, and I was prepared to suffer.

Since I translated the Requiem and know it by heart, and seen the earlier version (with Zephariah Harifai) I could have been bored. And because it is about dying we could have been depressed. And since what was needed for two people covered with plaster and paint was a raunchy comedy, it could have been a disaster.

But wow. Everything was done so well i didn't stop admiring the professionalism of the theater, the simplicity and complexity of the costuming and staging, and the absolute fulfillment of a complex and painful script on the stage.

And when it was over, the five minute standing ovation was cut short by the lead actor, Yoseph Carmon, who read an announcement that a proposal for cutting the budget for culture by an additional 25% was now being considered by the knesset. And of course it has been cut almost every year for the past 5 years.

But I can't find it on the government pages. here.

I DID find the petition we signed to the Minister of Finance. It's here but only in hebrew. Although there are buttons for other languages at the bottom.

November 19, 2004

As my we get accustomed to living in a total mess, and can't imagine what it would be like to have a kitchen, we take a few minutes to notice that the rain meant business, and the cold air is coming in. It is a quite amazing season: five minutes of fall is what we usually get around here.

The papers are full of great things to make up for the fact that I only have building experiences. For example Ayman Sikseck talks about her visit to the old bus station in Tel Aviv, and how she found poems of Nisar Qabbani there. I have a book of Quabbani's love poems, but can't get anywhere near it at this moment (I'm happy I can get to the bathroom). So I modified a few translations of one of his more famous poems:

A Clarification to My Readers

by Nizar Qabbani

And the fools say of me:

I entered the lodges of women

And never left.

And they call for my hanging,

Because I write poems

about my beloved .

I never traded

like others

in Hashish.

never stole.

never murdered.

I have loved in broad daylight.

Have I sinned?

And the fools say of me:

with my poems

I have violated the commands of heaven.

Who can say

love ravages the honor of heaven?

Heaven is my intimate.

It cries if I cry,

laughs if I laugh

and its stars

grow in brilliance

if one day I fall in love.

So what if I sing in the name of my beloved

And plant her like a chestnut tree

in every letter.

Fondness will remain my calling,

like all prophets.

And infancy, innocence

and purity.

I will write of my beloved

Till I melt her golden hair

In the heavenís gold.

I am a child,

And hope I never change,

scribbling on the walls of the stars

as that child pleases,

till the value of love

in my homeland

matches that of the air,

and to dreamers of love I become

a dictionary,

and on their lips I become

an A

and a B.

now if someone wrote a poem like that about me...

Oh, shucks, if only people wrote more poems like that. Maybe we wouldn't habe such a mess in the world.

November 20, 2004

When Air Force Commander in chief Dan Halutz showed no sadness or regret at the death of women and children when he authorized the dropping of a one ton bomb in a residential bulding in Gaza, killing terrorist Salah Shahade and 16 others, on July 23, 2002, I was very ashamed. Now the issue is being reviewed. And he may be removed. But I seem to remember that the general attitude of the Israeli people was one of joy at the killing of the man who sent us repeated human bombs, and the terrible guilt at the loss of civilians. And that Halutz said what he did in order to counter that terrible in quietude. Am I wrong?

November 21, 2004

Some recipes for locusts: (1) Boiled. First remove wings and short legs, then boil in salt water or chicken soup. (2)Fried: Best deep fried, in peanut oil. (3) Roasted and ground. Yum. Eilat is full of them now. But how do you catch them? Two people run into the locust cloud with a sheet spread like a sail, then throw it to the ground, trapping the insects... The cold weather coming is supposed to stop them, but they're moving north... our way.

How interesting that the day of the locust comes with the elections in the Likkud for the head.

We continue trying to 'do' something with our flat. Almost all the workmen come when they say they will, bring what they're supposed to bring, and do what they promised. Haim says he will bring the window at 9, and at 9 he knocks on the door. He takes out the rotten wooden frame, puts in the white aluminum, finishes the assembly by 10 and is out the door. I am so thrilled I can leave the house until the shelves get delivered at 11:30 I call my gynecologist, tell him I'm sick, and he says to come over to his home office. By 10:30 I am in the health clinic, doing tests, and by 11 I am on my way home from the pharmacy with the antibiotics. This is not third world. And when I compare what we are replacing in our flat, with what was put there when it was built 33 years ago (the crumbling plaster, the narrow, chinzy pipes, the miracle electrical wiring (it's a miracle no one's been electrocuted yet), I know there IS such a thing as progress.

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