Tel Aviv Diary April 4-8, 2020, 2020 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary - April 4-8- Karen Alkalay-Gut

April 4-8, 2020

There is a tremendous urge to just stay in bed on a day like today. But the sun is shining, the birds are singing, and we agreed to be daring and take our walk further that the 100 meters we are allowed. Amazing how guilty we felt and how exciting it was. those extra meters were amazing.

I have made a list of who i will see when the quarantine loosens up. 1. grandchildren and children 2. masseur 3. hairdresser 4. friends. I'm sure younger people have a different set of preferences, but i do not doubt that people are beginning to make their lists. one of my kids mentioned that her prayers for school cancellation are being answered, but forty years too late.

We still don't have a government - and our minister of health is still sick. why is he still our minister of health? it is so obvious that the considerations have been political and not medicinal that no one has any faith in him anymore. but the system is working overtime. there are so many dedicated people in the ministry of health they are succeeding without him, or despite him.

April 5, 2020

I open the door. My Auschwitz graduate neighbor has rung the bell. she is almost 90 and doesn't really understand about social distancing. she has probably been wandering the streets for hours now and has just returned from the supermarket. my instinct is to shut the door and spray the area, but she has to tell me about the demon who disturbs her painting night and day - the news broadcaster who has long been well-loved by all the country but she knows to be a Nazi dybbuk. How can I shut the door on her? "did you wear a mask?" "Yes yes." "It will protect you from him," i say. It is terrible to lie. anyway, she doesn't believe me. she may be crazy but she's not a fool. We trade blessings in Yiddish and she goes home, leaving me to wash my hands until they are red, gulping a glass of orange juice, and wondering if i have done a good deed in giving her some company ornan evil one in endangering myself. I've been reading too much Y.L. Peretz and his folk tales, tfu tfu tfu.)

"He Grandma," the facetime says. "How are you?" "Fine dear, how are you?" I show him some coins i was looking at that i think would interest him, and then i remember: "Should you be in home-school" "I am," he answers, "Right now. I'm supposed to call you and ask you questions." "What questions?" "Do you need anything?" no. "do you remember something from when I was little?" ithis conversation goes on for a while until i send him back to school and his sister gets on. "Shouldn't you be in school?" "Yes, but Mother needs the computer for a minute."

All this time i am changing the sheets, dusting the tables, wishing i could import our cleaner, or at least my masseur.

i'm not going to talk about the news or what you can read in the papers. my narrowly defined job is to describe daily life here. but because the world outside dictates my life, even though i've been hanging around the house for over a month, sometimes walking around the block, i sometimes have to write about the outside world as well. i've been trying to cut myself off but i can't stop peeking at the television. in the morning i do exercises with the morning show host, who has been commandeered into sharing his private routine with us, and then I just stay there for an hour or so...

So today our groceries arrived from the supermarket and there were no matzos, how can we zoom a seder if we don't have matzos on our table? so we put on our cg (corona gear) and made a list of what we still need and went to the grocery downstairs to give them the list. Usually there is one guy at the till and maybe one guy in the storeroom. Now four guys in masks were surrounded by boxes "WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE?" one of them shouted. "Why didn't you whatsapp me the list?" Now that scared me. i thought everyone was going to the grocer but us. he grabbed the list, refused to take our credit card, and sent us packing. It shook me up for hours.

and i really appreciated it.

April 6, 2020

the day was planned. morning to call old people in quarantine, finish a book, plan the zoom seder. but it started with my favorite exercise. and i made Ezi get up and join me. But while warming up he smashed his hand into the handle of the cupboard and we had to go to the trauma center to get 10 stitches. now that was an experience! mask, gloves, and social distancing. what a mess. now he won't be able to use his hand for weeks.

the interesting thing about it was that the surgeon and all the pharmacists were Arab. very good, very nice, very professional. it is quite remarkable how the whole idea of the Jewish doctor is over at least here.

mistake - the doctor is jewish - i saw it when i looked through the report. can't tell these guys apart.

Most of you now know the routine, The groceries get delivered to your door and then your work begins. spray the boxes, wash all the perishables with soap and water before storing, wait with the rest of it until the remains of the corona disappear. then figure out what to do with all the containers. exhausting.

אthe thing is, most of my students are actually sitting home and submitting their manuscripts - and me i'm swamped with housework.

April 7, 2020

A package arrived in the mail - to pick up at the post office. i went. there was almost no one there, and i was thinking - what a fool i am to risk getting sick over 2 dresses i ordered in September but got lost. but it turned out to be my book in Danish. And maybe that was risking my life for.

Maybe we're all going totally crazy staying home all the time. i ordered a dyson 11 absolute vacuum cleaner this morning and it arrived in the evening, but i was wiped out from trying to arrange the haggadah online - trying to give everyone a part and keep the thing moving. no discussion. not on hangouts!

April 8, 2020

As Einstein would have said, Happy Passover, relatively speaking.

I made the great matzo balls ever, and Dalia brought over gefilte fish and horseradish, but the meat i got from the supermarket is inedible. so thank goodness all the food tonight with be seen and not tasted. it was the same amount of work as a regular seder, except i won't have to wash all those dishes. one should always count one's blessings.

I have always hated the color grey, ever since in a high school sorority i had to pledge by wearing grey and green for months, so when the grey starts peeking through my hair, i usually spend whatever is needed to get it taken care of. But now, what can i do? I ordered from the supermarket, and since they were out of brown, they sent black. and not only do i look like i'm wearing a wig (that needs to be cut) but my shirt, my table, my towels, and my face are spotted with the color. yes, i'm a mess, but i don't have grey at my temples.

what i'm trying to say, i think, is that humans (even me) adjust a bit to variations in their lives. Our curve seems to be flattening out and - although it may just be that they've run out of tests - i think we're moving in a more positive direction. Just think: in a month from now we may be sitting in a traffic jam, or getting sand thrown in our face at the beach by some unheeding passerby, or getting way overcharged for beer at a friendly pub.. And, if my hairdresser is still in business, he may be able to fix the mess I'm in. and we may be able to get back into condition, and our muscles will start to ache again. think ahead!

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