Tel Aviv Diary Oct 14-18, 2004 - Karen Alkalay-Gut


ıTel Aviv Diary - from Oct 14 - 18, 2004 Karen Alkalay-Gut


ıOctober 14, 2004


Catscans and cats

Yes, that's what I'll discuss today.

Last night I had to do a catscan on my sinuses. Because they need to work the machine around the clock my appointment was for 1 a.m. So at 12:30 we left for the 25 minute ride to the health clinic in Tel Aviv. It's right off Shenkin and the traffic was heavy with night people. The contrast between the revellers and our dreary purpose was kind of interesting. And once inside there were a few other sleepy patients who had also come straight from bed. And a Russian clerk who was having trouble functioning because he was so upset about Russia losing the soccer game to Portugal, and although he processed us with great speed, just couldn't control his expectation of leaving work at 7 a.m. I don't remember the scan - i think i fell asleep - but I was home by 2, even with the traffic jams.

Now the cats. I'm always using the cats in these pages to prove - if only to myself - that what is considered instinctive behavior can be changed in the right environment. And the cats, whose characteristics were charted in the streets or in the home, here live in the protected garden of our apartment building. So as I noted long ago i think, there were kittens that were nursed for over a year - even months after their mother was picked up by the municipal vet, spayed, and returned to the yard; there have been cases of adoption, of spayed males pretending to mount cats in heat, of the lost house-cat, a white declawed persian, being allowed to join the group, and sleeping (higher than everyone else) on the window sill... And now there is the male cat who has adopted an orphan kitten. The tiny male kitten sleeps in the circle the male cat makes for him with his body; they play together, they fight together, and NOBODY bothers that kitten. And if you ask nicely enough, I'll post some pictures.

The point is, of course, that part of the nasty character of the Palestinians and the israelis is due to our situation. change the situation and we'll be nice people.

Yes, it is much nicer to write about cats and catscan than the world outside, today's events or history. By chance today I found myself in the Land of Israel Museum. A 1940's photographer named Roy Goldman with scenes of public Tel Aviv - speeches, news events, etc. And then suddenly there was a photograph of a woman from the neck to the waist. She was wearing a black wool blouse and pulling the collar apart so that the photographer could show the tattoo on her upper chest which said in block print "felden hure," field prostitute. Her Auschwitz number was tattoed beneath. I reeled out of the museum and drove to my dentist appointment without even knowing how i got there.

When I got home I looked it up on the web - it is mentioned on the web that Jewish women were tattooed with the stamp, "Feld Hure," whores for Hitlers troops. Frauennews

It's a loose translation.

October 15,2004

Ramadan Mubarak!

Thank goodness the conflict at Temple Mount was resolved today. It looked like we were on the brink of a religious war because the Jerusalem cops were sure that the building was in danger of collapse. But then there were some "corrections" made and everything worked out. Now all we have to worry about is the war between the religious JEWS and the government.

October 16, 2004

As we came home from a rousing party last night at 2 in the morning, we found our neighbors playing with the cats, and exchanging stories of their bizarre behavior. All agreed that the protected environment for still-wild cats encourages this behavior, and added stories about the hierarchy that includes everyone, but in different degrees of power. The male who is - apparently - allowing the kitten to actually nurse from him - is one of the marginally powerful - but with his new status as adopting 'uncle' he has gained new respect.

And surprisingly, the neighbors I talked to all proposed the strange theory that this was what the kibbutz should be - a protected environment that includes and promotes eccentric and original behavior that can perhaps redirect the society.

I always wanted this country to be that kind of kibbutz, and for me it has been in many ways - allowing me to sometimes develop strange dreams and in this way contribute to the community.

October 17, 2004

Bassam Zuamut died today. He was 54 but i heard he'd been sick for while - an Arab Israeli actor who worked in coexistential comedies, he was a man i admired. I am so sorry the world is without him.

October 18, 2004

The computer was not in my hands most of the time yesterday and i couldn't jabber away as usual. i wanted to point out a photograph that was in friday's haaretz - a man tattooed with Jewish Pride on his lower back. It suddenly seemed to me that my life-long horror of tattooes have another meaning here - there is something defiant in allowing a peek of a tattoo like that when the shirt pulls away from the jeans in the back.

i can't find it on line though.

My book, So Far, So Good, should be out tomorrow. It should be on amazon within a few days. Co-publishing with Babylon Books (Oxford) and Sivan books (Federation of Writers Unions in Israel). Because the Israel Federation of Writers Unions is still waiting for the 2 years back funding that the government owes it, i'm worried about whether they'll be able to function at all this year, much less promote any publications. But culture really is last on the list of importance around here nowadays.

Uzi Chitman was buried today - the author of so many peace songs for children we have entirely incorporated into our culture - died of a heart attack at 52 yesterday. Bassam Zuamut was perhaps two years older. The two of them should have been watched more carefully, and i am sure that the political situation shortened both of their lives.

October 18, 2004

Sharon has been saved from the fall that seemed imminent - what a country! - always expect the unexpected - you never know what can happen.

We live on a fault line - figuratively and literally - and a few years ago I began to notice very big cracks in the walls of our apartment. It must have taken me at least a year to get anyone to pay attention to them - i don't remember - but ezi didn't seem concerned at all. At some point I got some neighbors in on this and we started inquiring into the cause. It turned out some of the columns under our building were sinking and we turned to the municipality to allow us to build some kind of support to make sure we don't completely collapse in the next earthquake. We probably didn't go about it properly, because what sane municipality would make us wait 3 years for a permit? But this summer we finally got it, and a team of Russians began to build these strange walls that the architect designed. The reinforcement walls are finally finished - and now i can fix the fissures in our walls. At least one thing we're relatively safe from.

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