Tel Aviv Diary - December 28, 2009-January 1, 2010 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary - December 28, 2009 - January 1, 2010 Karen Alkalay-Gut

December 28, 2009

It is as if we had an electronic book of Kafka that we actually could enter, as if the long halls and the clerks sitting outside the offices for the sole purpose of keeping us out had come to life. Even our accountant can't figure out what's happening to the Israel Association of Writers and the Bureau of Income Tax. We have a government deadline of January 3 and cannot apply for the grant we're eligible for without a certificate from Income Tax. The clerk, who seems to be there every other day, or every day we don't call, answers our urgent question by snail mail, and says she needs documents that haven't existed for well over twenty years. I call up the chair of the Federation of Writers' Unions for some moral support, but he can't talk to me because he's busy filling out tax forms and trying to figure out how he can account for some money donated to his organization well before he joined it. I'm grateful it's not really real, that it's only a fictional reality, a kind of video game. But I can imagine us disappearing into the screen, getting lost in the virtual mazes of the castle.

Bureaucracy is actually much easier in this country that it used to be, the banks are easy to work with, utility bills are easy to pay by standing orders at the bank, i can usually get to a real person and discuss any problems i might have with service and/or payment, etc. etc. But those big bureaus, they're murder. The rules get more and more complex so only the most "sophisticated" people can get through.

December 29, 2009

Here's an interesting note. On the UN map of Israel, there is no capital city. Take a look" here. And there are some other irregularities one might find strange. Actually I found the whole UN site a bit strange. Is it me? I have a photograph of myself at the age of nine, standing with my uncle Leibe and my father in front of the UN. We are all very proud - two Holocaust survivors and a 'free' girl - secure in the fact that the existence of the UN would now mean there could be no more injustice.

December 30, 2009

We are about to embark on the last day of the civil new year. Our plan is as follows: we are expecting to be exhausted at the end of a long hard day of work, but would like a proper glass of champagne on this occasion, and not on an empty stomach. So we're setting our clocks back 2 hours, ordering in early, at 10 will celebrate midnight with a lot of kissing and drinking, and be in bed by 11. We wouldn't be able to get a reservation at a decent restaurant anyway, and have no desire to be out there taking the new year seriously, and don't want our friends to be driving with all those crazies out there.

More to the point, this is not the kind of year I want to celebrate. I know, I know, there were no suicide bombers in Israel this year, because they few there were met with opposition on the way, and just a couple hundred rockets by my count. But I can't get the memory of the Hizballah building and arming before my very eyes just opposite Metulla, and I don't know if we're going to have a brilliant 365. If there's no war, on the other hand, I expect a wonderful year.

December 31-January 1

After having celebrated new years in Ecaterinburg (at 9) and Budapest (at 10) we forgot about the closer neighbors and the holiday at home and fell asleep. But too much champagne has a negative effect on my nervous system and now i am up for the night, watching the news about the Grad rocket attack on Netivot. Something like a new years promise.

January 1, 2010

It is very strange to see films in Israel. Not as strange as it used to be, but I remember when it was the wild west. The first movie I saw in this country was in 1965 in Beer Sheva. I think it was a Belmundo film but the film itself didn;t matter - the and everyone laughed, or threw things at each other over the rows... ah, the film didn't matter at all. Tonight we saw the Coen Brothers, "A Serious Man," which is completely different when the audience knows all the languages and linguistic references, but few of the social references. America of the sixties is strange to Jews who grew up here. So my laughing sometimes echoed hollowly in the theater, and sometimes was countered by a silent accusation of antisemitism. But everyone understood the Yiddish, the Herew, and the religious references. I myself thought the film the Jewish version of "No Country for Old Men."

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