Tel Aviv Diary January 1-5 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary January 1, 2019

Karen Alkalay-Gut

January 1, 2019

Well, what do you know- a new year. it crept up on me. We got back from visiting 98 year old lady from Zhedtl in Gilo and we went straight to a new years party where we collapsed. at 6 in the morning Ezi was on his way to the the hike across Israeli - 10-11 kilometers, and i, who had made breakfast and all that stuff, went to finish my lecture for thursday and then to make some progress on thursday's lecture. i've tried to interest some friends to listen to the 19th century poems, but everyone changes this subject. even last night among close friends, i tried to tell them what it is like to be a 'patient' in a victorian hospital, but they change the subject on me twice. today, when i went to visit my poor friend in the geriatric rehab this afternoon, she was sitting at a table with three completely unsuitable people to her. we all got into a conversation about how the doctors in their rounds talk to each other and ignore the patient. i was so sorry they couldn't understand the poem i just read that talks precisely about this. the old Yemenite, who was thrilled that i was sitting so close, made the first complaint about not knowing what was going on with him. Then the Russian chemist chimed in. why couldn't i just spend my time with them?

January 2, 2019

here's what i did from 3-7 this afternoon: shot some baskets with an eight year old, and then played a bit of pool until i had to pick up the six year old from her girlfriend down the street. she didn't want to leave but eventually we went out into the street where she met 4 boys from her class and a mother. they urged her to join them and the mother too expressed her enthusiasm, so the went there inviting me to return at 6. in the meantime the eight year old had to be brought to his ju-jitso class and it was in the opposite direction. all this within a ten block frame. on the way we met other boys going to other classes, other friends houses, all accompanied by a parent. i then went back and brought her home. then him. And i think i wish i would have grown up here, with the friendship and community...

so unlike the politics right now.

January 3, 2019

So here is the situation: imagine a lecturer in Hebrew university, with students of all cultures in your class, some wearing hijabs. one student comes in wearing an army uniform, and an Arab student begins to complain, interrupting the class, that the uniform offends her. the teacher doesn't say anything but catches the soldier after class and berates her for offending the Arab student with her uniform. What is the proper response? Step one: 1. berate the Arab student for interrupting the class 2. berate the Arab student for voicing offense at an army that is defending the country in which she lives 3. berate the Arab student for offending another student 4. berate the Arab student for attending a university subsidized by the same institution as the one that subsidizes the army 5. berate the soldier for offending her classmate. Step two: 1. the university apologizes 2. the teacher apologizes 3. the soldier apologizes 4. the other student apologizes 5. the class apologizes for allowing the harrassing of the soldier 6. the class apologizes for not driving the soldier out of the room. 7. some of the above.

I'm about to go into a class later on today and know exactly what i would do. and as an administrator i would put the teacher on notice for allowing such harassment to go on during a class. it reminds me of the old Osho story. the train is speeding along the track and the conductor suddenly sees a couple lying across the tracks making love. He sounds the whistle, but they do not pay attention. he sounds the whistle again. they continue their occupation. finally, he pulls the emergency cord and stops just in time. he jumps out of the train and begins to shout: "Did you not see the train coming? Did you not hear the whistle?" "Yes, says the man. But she was coming, I was coming, and the train was coming. But the train had the brakes!"

since Ezi says he didn't get it, i will add the final lesson: the lecturer had the brakes.

In case you are dying to see the photographs of my reading last week at Mashiv Haruach < a href="">here they are.

I'd rather go for the video of the talk i gave today about poetry and the history of modern medicine, but it's not ready yet. i'll let you know.

January 4, 2019

Zelda Harris launched her book, "A Widow's Tale," today in her tiny apartment. Ninety years old and still going, she invited a wonderful motley audience and great musicians and readers to present her book, English, Hebrew, Arabic. I got to read a chapter with a cellist and i loved it - this is what i was meant to do - to present the work of wonderful people.

I also managed not to watch the news this evening but read poetry instead.

January 5, 2019

the weekend ended for me when a grandchild spilled my just poured mug of coffee on my laptop, my ipad, my phone, my new slippers, my new handbag, my charger... enough. after a day of cooking and washing dishes. but a tiny bit of naches returned when two of them managed to learn basic embroidery from me. not too much, but a tiny bit.

After all, I'm still reeling from the damage Avi Gabbai did to the Labor party. After all I rejoined the party years after i quit, and then I met Gabbai and decided he had a chance as long as he didn't have a conversation with any intelligent individual. and he screwed up and showed his true face in front of the country by divorcing Zipi Livni on air.

and now i have learned the truth that will carry me into the future: There is no way i will support someone who interrupts me mid-question with a supercilious answer. There is no way i will follow someone who brags of his past successes when he has shown no present action. And that means I will probably have to isolate myself from the world.

i am very proud of the lecture i gave on thursday about the beginnings of modern medicine and photography and the exploration of poetic forms and i will put on the university channel very soon. Despite the fact that my papers were flying in the air all the time, and, as usual, i stuttered and lost my place, i was thrilled with the result. So sometimes things work out.

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