Tel Aviv Diary April 5-9, 2007- - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary - April 5-9, 2007

April 5, 2007

I am overfed, overtired and overheated. I guess that is characteristic of this period. We have met more relatives and eaten with them than we have all year together.

More festivals, more holidays, more trips, more food.

But this is also the time of papers, deadlines, work work work. So this is a time of no rest.

I have never understood when Israelis sleep. Tel Aviv really doesn't ever shut off, and only slows down in traffic jams. Today we were in Rabin Square, where no one was looking at the Rabin memorial because the square was filled with families, booths, clowns, shows, singing.

I felt like Scrooge before Christmas. And it turned out that the festivities in the square were sponsored by my bank. Come on.

At the moment, the only thing i like about Rabin Square, except for the memorial, is the fact that when you park in the lot under the center, and you pay with a hundred shekel note, you get change in 10 shekel pieces that sounds like you've won the jackpot in Las Vegas.

April 6, 2007

"How is it that you don't talk about politics?" a former student asked me today. "Don't you have any connection to the present situation?" Well, I share a Cleaner with the soon-to-be-former Minister of Finance, and read the papers and watch television. And talk about politics all the time.

But not to you.

I ate my first non-seder matzo today, and felt very much a part of the country. After all, if the Arabs are eating them, then it isn't just the Mitzva that makes them edible, right? Maybe they actually taste good. It's so hard for me to be objective about Jewish food in general. Does it really taste good? Does it depend on whose recipes? I don't like gefilte fish, but as I refused my portion at the seder I closed my eyes and described the idea of gefilte fish to myself and it seemed like it would have been a great taste to me if it hasn't been shoved down my throat as a child. And chopped liver I love. And REAL tsimmes. And cholent. And chicken soup. And kugel.

But I can't think of matzo as being anything more than symbolic bread.

April 7, 2007

Thank goodness, a boring day. Except for the neighbor's leak that is spreading over the ceiling of 3 of our rooms, threatening to have the house cave in, it has been a simple day, so far.

April 8, 2007

To avoid the fruitless banging of the plumber, who cann't find out why my ceiling is dripping, I ventured out into the generally quiet center in Tagore. The picture framer's shop was closed for passover, but the bakery was going strong and the few people out today were there. Most of our neighbors seemed to be cooking for the holiday - from the smells - but we couldn't be one of them.

And the drip continues.

The announcement of a university strike immediately following the holidays was a blow. Not that I think we should be working as we are - not that i think we should continued to be starved as an institution - not that i think the students are getting their money's worth, but i was really hoping someone would try to solve something. a billion and a half shekel were cut from the university budget in recent years. tuition is going up 20 percent, and the future for education here is dim.

Having ranted about Jewish food the other day I had dinner on ereb hag on Shenkin St. at Orna and Ella. One of the better dinners I had out in a while: the curried Sea Bass was great and the place is quiet and civilized.

April 9, 2007

As much fun as Orna and Ella's place was yesterday, Big Mama's was great today! Rena, I hope you're keeping track. We stopped cooking because both of our backs needed a rest and now we've rediscovered some of our favorite places, on all levels from the Brasserie to the shuk. Big Mama near the yemenite quarter, is run down but it's a great deal of fun, and my inside information says it will get better. Walking around the neighborhood after lunch, I suddenly found myself looking down Geula Street at the sea. It was as simple and magnificent as always. Here I was with a little child, thinking about Tina who is leaving this world even as I write this, and standing in a street named "Redemption," and everything was filled with meaning. Funny. It happens a lot around here.

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