Tel Aviv Diary - November 30 = December 4, 2010 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

November 30, 2010

Last night we went to a mad party at the visitors' hall of the recycling center at Hiriya. Food, singing, dancing - everything to celebrate a birthday and encourage recycling. The hall is magnificent - trash artistically hanging from the high ceilings - ironing boards, bicycles, hair dryers, clothing, thousands of items to make Duchamp proud. The effect is not only to lower the extremely high ceiling and give an effect of intimacy, but also to raise the discarded items to a higher level than the viewer.

Aside from the simple but wonderful food stations, the dessert freezers with ice-cream cones, and the generous bar, there was a recycling art station, with all kinds of leftover materials, wools, a sewing machine, and bottles of beads and strings. The whole place was enthralling - I wonder if tourists ever go there.

Did I invite you to my book launch? I am really proud of this selection of poems that just came out and am inviting everyone to share a glass of champagne with me at Pappa's on Friday afternoon at 4. Pappa's is on Hillel Hazaken 12, on the corner of Najara Street. Both are small streets just behind the Allenby theater next to the Carmel Market.

December 1, 2010

When there was a blast on Dizengoff Center onMarch 6, 1996, and many people I knew well were there and I was looking for them, I was sure that cellphones would be a necessary addition to this country. After that all of us got cellphones. We didn't anticipate all the social changes - such as the differences in the lives of young people in villages who'd always had to get calls monitored suddenly connected directly, made dates, etc. But today the cellcom system broke down, and there was no network communication. The news says that everything is okay now, but until a few minutes ago my phone said, "No network communication" and now it says "Emerg. communication only." All this would normally not disturb me too much personally. I'm not in business or have small children or have to be on call at the hospital. I don't even use the phone very much. My only problem might be all the radio shows and stuff I have to do for this new book. But the very thought that someone could successfully mess with our communications chills my bones.

You know what I mean.

December 2, 2010

If you're in Haifa this morning, visit me at the cinemateque at the international conference of writers for peace. I backed out of organizing it because it seemed too complicated, but Bluma Finkelstein persisted and created an impressive group!

December 3, 2010

Just past midnight

As we were driving to Tel Aviv at 11:15 today a pillar of smoke rose from the carmel hills. I barely noticed it and went right to the university to teach for the day, but when I came home at 6 I switched on the news. The fire was raging out of control, a busload of police and prison guards were already dead, thousands homeless and no end in sight. Every moment now it gets worse and worse.

December 3, 2010

We went to a Hannuka party last night despite the fact that all we wanted to do was sit by the tv and pray for a different kind of hanuka miracle. I might have cancelled the book launch - we certainly weren't in the mood to celebrate. But as so as we began we got into it. It was only after the wonderful reading, the joyful occasion, we turned on the radio and discovered the situation is worse. The fires seem to be arson, but once they get going, even the pine cones explode like firebombs and ignite distant brush. Didn't God promise Noah that the world would be destroyed by fire next time?

December 4, 2010

We wake up to turn on the television, first thing on Sabbath morning. The Minister of Interior is sanctifying this day with prayers, while the Greeks, the Cypriots and the Russians are fighting the spreading fires. The Prime Minister spent yesterday asking for international help, and even unasked is getting it. But the fires keep getting set. Kind of puts the traditions of Hanuka into proportion, eh?

Guy Shahar sent these pictures of the raging fare.

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