Tel Aviv Diary January 11-16 2019 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary January 11-16, 2019

Karen Alkalay-Gut

January 11-16, 2019

January 11, 2019

at the beginning of our meeting, the children sat on the floor in front of their grandparents. we were all in a circle in the grammar school library, feeling a bit uncertain about what the teacher was telling us - to find a place in the school for the interview and to come back in an hour. the children wandered off with their grandparents and eventually settled down in a classroom or a bench outside and then the children began their list of questions - where were you born, what games did you play, how different was your school from ours. then we went out to the yard to show our games. when we came back to the library the teacher asked us whether we had learned something, and all the children were very excited in their replies. The grandparents spoke less, but mentioned that they had never been asked questions about themselves in the past. And then someone said, I had no grandparents to ask questions. and we saw how important this project is, and how important our next meeting - after the transcriptions - will be.

i am willing to bet that more than half the people my age in this country never knew their grandparents.

As i sat down to write tonight i was suddenly reminded of Dahn Ben Amotz's Diary of a 9 year old boy. if you don't know Hebrew this will not be great fun for you, but if you do, you see suddenlt how the idea that the child blows up his school has a function in the history of a child whose family disappeared in the holocaust. Not only did Ben Amotz boost a myth that he had been born in Israel, and denied the family he lost in the holocaust, but he destroyed his own career by feeding stories to his biographer that would have been inacceptable in contemporary society, such as his incest with his mother the night of his leaving Europe for Israel as a 14 year old boy. I'm pretty sure that was a myth that Ben Amotz created to illustrate something about the loss of a connection to the previous generation.

January 12, 2019

Our lazy day began with finishing off the cleaning from last night's dinner. Friday nights for some reason are always more complicated than they need be and there is always a bigger mess than is right. Then we met some of our kids in the pool, witnessing for the first time the youngest grand daughter letting all swimming aids loose and swimming, diving, somersaulting - discovering the meaning of freedom. it was worth the exhaustion afterward. the exhaustion didn't come from the witnessing, however, but from our own sense of freedom, our sudden memory of the joy of swimming. the outside pool was almost empty, the covered pools were heated and pretty much deserted, and except for those moments of cold at the exit, everything was perfect.

after a Shabbat lunch for the family I was wiped out - many of my friends claim they go to their kids' homes for shabbat, or they meet with friends, and i think we don't do that enough. but in any case shabbat is time for a social gathering. even at the pool i noticed groups of older people sitting in circles, discussing their complaints - medical, familial, political. so much better than shopping, i'd say.

Especially yesterday. Oh Goodness - we went to lunch at the Grand Cafe in the Ramat Aviv mall. One of the worst places in the world for enjoying discussions, with music so loud conversations are impossible, and a waiting list so long, i managed to do much of my necessary shopping while the others waited in line. Then when the food was served the other six diners were almost finished before my meal came. I was so disturbed by the noise i couldn't eat anyway. Don't go there if humanity means anything to you!

January 13, 2019

this is the lecture i gave last week

Despite my blubbering at the beginning, i really enjoyed this magnum opus.

January 14, 2019

For a blood test I have to fast 12 hours, so i stopped eating at 7:30 last night. But for the first time I overslept. instead of my usual 6:30 I woke up at 8:30 and by the time we got to the clinic it was 9:30. In the next booth a girl was screaming that she can't bear the needle, and the nurse called for my nurse to help. "In a minute," she said, and prepared to draw my blood. "I can wait," I said, and she smiled and within less than a minute had placed a cotton ball and tape and asked me to wait with her to make sure there was no bleeding. "I'll just use it to think about breakfast," I said, and she gave me a coupon for the nearest cafe.

We went to Landwer's instead, because it has full breakfasts and we were both very hungry. It was crowded and smelled of paint because they are expanding but we didn't care. it was close and it was fast and the coffee and bread was good. the rest was just okay. We've been having strange luck with Landwers, which is all over, and extremely uneven. The worst one was in Habimah square. the best one - hm, i don't remember...

in any case the test results started coming in by 3 and the doctor called me by 7 to recommend i take more magnesium. wow.

January 15, 2019

Boy did I feel like Sharon Haziz on Allenby Street today, This clip must be 20 years old but i always think of it when i walk on this street.

tAnd we spent practically the whole day there, peeking into shops - clothes are cheap, jewelry is expensive, book dealers know where every book is.

There was a window with orthopedic shoes and my feet were hurting so i wandered into the alley behind the window, opened an unmarked door and found myself in a room crowded with boxes from floor to ceiling. there was no one there. i called and called, but there were no other rooms. resting on one box in a pile only chest-high was a watch, on another box was a bag with some food, on a third box a jacket. i would have left but i saw that near the ceiling were boxes with my sixe labeled. Eventually an elderly couple came in, but they were customers too., and the man called out "I'm going to steal every shoe in this room!" but that brought no results. so we waited. eventually a man came in, quickly sold a pair of slippers to the old lady while bringing me a perfect low boot that fit like a glove. within minutes i had bought them and wore them for the rest of my walk down the street.

We had lunch at Green Sushi, where there were three tables and a counter for four, ate more dim sum than was good for us, and continued on our journey. i bought wool for some baby hats at an underwear shop, where the owner - a man in his fifties, quickly evaluated what kind of underwear we would need and offered the exact cut of tights my friend was thinking of - two seams in the back, size, color. he was dressing us with his eyes and got it right.

We passed the crafts fair and my friend dropped fifteen shekel in the hat of some street singer to my amazement.

The clip was filmed in 1995 on Allenby from Gruzenberg St. south, and not much has changed since then.

January 16, 2019

Snow is falling in Jerusalem and we, in Tel Aviv, decided to go to the pool. it is covered, heated, and empty which makes it perfect for children in the afternoon. only i have caught a cold so i'm not going in the water. I sit by the pool and watch. like an idiot. there is a familiar white cat who usually sits outside near the poolside cafe but is now warming up as far from the water as she can get. she even sits close to the automatic doors so she can step outside if someone comes through, and then return to the heat when someone else enters.


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