Tel Aviv Diary December 18-22, 2005 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary - December 23, 2005 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Overextended is an understatement at the moment. Among radio programs, the Jerusalem Review, performances, planning for further performances, student grants, etc., I am stuck with a problem that plagues many people in Israel at this time of year. There is a holiday, and part of the population is on vacation, but I AM NOT. So there are celebrations, parties, dinners, all accompanied by candle-lighting sessions and songs. And I take my nose off the grind to wish ...grumble grumble grumble.

You can see that mood in yesterday's note about ramat aviv g. Today was shopping for the weekly festivities and stuff like that. And my impatience makes it all much more difficult. Why on the eve of a jewish holiday is the traif butcher so crowded? And yet, Diana, the butcher's wife, has the check-out counter down to a science, and moves them out fast. While the Vietnamese woman takes and sets up the phone orders, the Russian guy cleans up, and all the typical Israeli customers move through the line with an efficiency uncharacteristic of this part of the world.

And what is all the world doing in Ikea? Don't they know not to come on a Friday morning? But they're all there - Everybody's got stuff to buy for all the different holidays. We wind up sticking to necessities, and don't go near crowded Tiv Tam which is full of Christmas decorations and a festive spirit.

It goes on and on. At Home Center I look for a new warming tray. Ahmed doesn't understand what I am asking. Finally he says, "Oh, a shabbas plate! Nah, we're out."

December 24, 2005

I wish i could curse - i wrote a long piece about Calandia and forgot to save it properly before my password expired - lost the whole thing. To summarize, a woman i was talking to today to goes to the checkpoint at Calandia to make sure the soldiers don't abuse the Palestinians. The soldiers are more nervous than usual since one of them was knifed recently. Of course they're going to behave more agressively than usual to the people, innocent though they may be. What's the solution? peace. nothing else is going to work. and as far as i'm concerned it has to come from both sides.

December 25, 2005

Hope you forgive me. I would love to write more about that, and about Christmas in Bethlehem and about politics and my search for the perfect doughnut... but my recurrent flu really has the better of me.

In the mean time, here's a site you should check out if you live in Israel. It tells you where the cellular phone antenna are in your neighborhood. I don't recommend it for the faint at heart. They're all over the place.

Which takes us back to my original theory about local politics- our willingness to screw anyone we can.

December 26, 2005

At least one thing good came out of the last week - there is a lot more talk about strokes. And since that's the favorite choice of my family as a mode of exit, I am fascinated by all the new research.

As the final touch of the first new issue of the Jerusalem Review, some of the editors interviewed Shimon Peres today on the issue of the role of culture in peace-making. Here are the visual results.

It was at the end of a long, hard, day, but Peres was bubbling with great ideas. The first thing he talked about, for example, was the privatization of peace. He went on to talk economics and internet and stuff like that but my mind went going on the poetic relevance of this.

The responsibility of each individual to live their lives in such a way as to increase a private peace.

December 27, 2005

The story of Eli Cohen is well known to anyone who has any association with Israel. There is now an effort to get his remains released from Syria, after over 40 years, for a proper burial. The petition is here. Consider it. At the very least, you'll get a good lesson in history just by reading the letter of his brother, Maurice.

I am not at all sure I comprehend the Hannukah obsession with doughnuts. Thinking that perhaps I am just a holiday grump, this afternoon I ate one of each of the five different kinds we had bought for our family's hannukah party desert. Not one of them had any taste. Not the creme, not the chocolate, not the dulce de leche, not the jam, not the whipped cream. It was all paste and shaving cream and cough syrup to me. Of course this might also be due to the wonderful goulash and potato kugel and fresh fresh salad that preceded it,but I think one should always be ready for dessert. And this was not worthy of the name.

Yes, it's true, they were bought in that place known for its bad taste, Ramat Aviv G. But they were not unlike all the doughnuts served at all work or school parties (except of course for the university, which never has parties).

I write these lines as I watch a shouting match on tv about dividing jerusalem. Will the likkud divide jerusalem, will maarach divide jerusalem. the whole argument becomes an ad homini smokescreen. Someone notes that jerusalem is and has been divided since 1967. They are all, as we say in Hebrew, grinding water. As far as I'm concerned, until we get realistic about the actual demographics and needs of that city, we're never going to get anywhere.

We'll be much more successful talking about improving the doughnut situation around here. Why can we make beignettes for channukah?

think outside the box

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