Tel Aviv Diary - November 19-23, 2014 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

November 19, 2014

The Cave of Aladdin

In memory of Taha Mohammed Ali

His shop was Aladdin's cave
filled with secret dusty lamps
that shone at the touch of a word
pearls of prayer beads and pink rosaries
sacred by virtue of proximity
to the well where the Virgin filled her urn.

Some days tourists poked in
wise visitors from foreign lands
who had seen the carved camels
and dusty silver bracelets
in finer settings
and now passed by
or bargained for a better price

Some days the little shop
was a carpet that flew
to Verona Venice Cyprus
Denmark Elsinore

or a jagged peak in Sligo
where Yeats would whisper
to the wind and to him.

But perhaps here and there
he would rub an old container
and a genie would emerge,
transport him to a stage in a stadium
where he would read aloud simple words,
words that transformed entire worlds.

if i don't appear here for a while, it's because i'm being cyber-attacked. maybe i have enemies - but why should i have any enemies in this world? As Seinfeld's mother used to say, "What's not to like?"

Still, I'm having big problems.

November 20, 2014

When our Arabic teacher let us know at the last moment that she wouldn't be leading the class today, we immediately suspected from her excited tone that someone had insulted her race or religion in school. Whether it is true or not it is quite clear why we wished she had come so we could comfort her. Hard to be a woman. hard to be an Arab woman. Hard to be an Arab woman in a Jewish environment right now.

An exhibit of Menashe Kadishman opened this evening in Kfar Saba. Small, minimalist drawings - sometimes with a bit of color or paper cutout like Matisse, Kadishman is finding it hard to work, and hard to live without working. "I am not measured by the limits of my body, he scrawls in one of his pieces, I am measured by the limits of my pain.

November 21, 2014

They promised a storm and this morning suddenly looked serious. Rain came down like someone was pouring buckets of water from our upstairs neighbor's apartment. So we decided to make cholent. Actually I decided yesterday - and bought a cholent pot for the occasion. We never have enough room for all the ingredients that seem imperative and wind up leaving out the haminados - the eggs that turn brown with the overnight cooking. Anyway this time I had enough room, and now i've got too much food. we'll be eating cholent all week. Worse, we have to go to bed with the smell of cholent tonight.

November 22, 2014

So it turned out not to be a cholent day - the weather was gorgeous until after lunch, when there was a sudden storm that was over in a few minutes. And only the family came, and of the 13 guests the 5 kids wouldn't touch the food. So we have half of a pot of cholent left over.

All this talk of weather and food is, of course, an effort not to talk about politics which is plain madness around here. The daily scene we have in Tel Aviv is of male cats challenging each other. they make awful noises for a long time, and then suddenly they're at each other's throats. So you hear "Wah!" ..."Wah!"..."Wah!" ..."Wah!"..."Wah!" ..."Wah!" and then "Wawawawawa!" We're almost there.

November 23, 2014

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