Tel Aviv Diary February 12-16, 2016 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary - February 12-16, 2016 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

February 12, 2016

I've been translating poetry from the poet '48 war. It is very depressing. the loss, the hope.

enough of that.

today was grandparents day in Omer's kindergarten. The older generation, who have time on their hands and need to be needed, sat around watching the children sing and dance about how important family is. And all I could think about was Raphael Klatchkin and his songs of mourning and hope for the future. I was the dark cloud hanging over the heads of the seniors.

February 13, 2016

i know it's freezing everywhere in the world, but we're about to have a heat wave here. So if you're thinking of travelling in the middle east, this might be the week. Me, if i dared, would be in Cairo. I read Naguib Mahfouz and dream of walking through the neighborhoods he describes in his novels. i know people say it's dirty and smelly and neglected and dangerous and all that. But i can dream.

Actually our only travelling today was going to be to the Tel Aviv Port, but the kids went there first and they couldn't get in. EVERYONE was taking advantage of the sun. So we went to the little neighborhood playground and found it taken over by some really 'colorful' people. Their kids were running all over the place, getting underfoot by the swings, getting stuck way up on top of some jungle gym, and dropping the snacks they weren't without all over the ground. But they weren't the problem. The parents drove me up a wall, spouting foolishness at each other while their kids were hanging by their hair. according to them their eight month old baby has to drink 2 quarts of water a day, and refuses. the tibetan au pair was swinging the kid in a swing that i was sure he'd fall from so water wasn't on my mind. but the clincher was when the pregnant mother gave the baby "Bamba" a popular chip-like stack, while explaining to some guy that children shouldn't get to try peanuts until they are 4 and with a doctor in the area. Because of allergies, stupid, she said, as the men questioned her. What she wasn't perhaps paying attention to was the fact that the taste of Bamba comes from peanut butter.

Now all this would have been a simple irritation were it not for the tv programs i thought i'd watch when i got home. Political debates. And they all sounded like the pregnant lady from the park. saying one thing and doing the opposite to each other. Even Ahmed Tibi has entirely lost his sense of humor and politeness and he has always been my model of a man of state.

February 14, 2016

So I go to the seamstress this morning to take in my pants. This particular seamstress does not do alterations so everything has to be tried on first. There were two ladies in front of me in line. one was trying on t shirts to be shortened, and the other was holding a baby so she couldn't get herself ready for the seamstress. I took the baby to get things moving. But imagine my surprise when i discovered the lady with the baby was trying on t shirts to be lengthened.

why didn't they just trade shirts?

I wish there was a political parallel to make this a significant story. maybe you can think of one?

February 15, 2016

I could not watch Olmert going into prison. i could not bear Uzi Landau's badmouthing him on TV. If Uzi Landau knew he was a crook all along he should have done something about it. That's also true for all the other politicians in the municipality of Jerusalem. They have no right to say anything now. Everyone knew he was a crook. All I could do about it was vote against him.

Why do I write so little about my grandchildren, some people asked me recently. It is quite amazing. Even though i protect their privacy by restraining myself I am in love with each one of them. The great writer Avraham Shlonsky was criticized for pride about his grandchild. He said, "any cat can have babies, but only humans have grandchildren."

February 16, 2016

A friend is visiting from the U.S. She was advised to come and live here. Why? she asked. It's more interesting, she was told. I thought about it for a while - since it would be wonderful to have her here. but this really doesn't feel like the right time. maybe if there were elections, and she helped changed the government...

But it is certain that there is much more cultural action here than anywhere else. it's just a bit more hard to find. in the past few years i've discovered that much of the artistic activities i've been involved with don't get into the papers. it's facebook or nothing.

So on Thursday at seven there will be a tri-lingual poetry reading at the Yiddish Writers' Home. Beit Leyvick, at 7:00 p.m. I'm cohosting it with Daniel Galay. 30 Dov Hoz Street.

Liz Magnes and I are doing this gig in NY, in the Cornelia Street Cafe, on 29 Cornelia Street, on April 11. Thought you'd like to know.

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