Tel Aviv Diary November 5-9, 2007- - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary - November 5-9, 2007

November 5, 2007

hello? hello?.. i'm just kidding... i can hear. it was just when i woke up this morning and the ear i tore all the way along the back yesterday was red and i had a fever, i thought i'd better see a doctor.

Ah, if i could write like Hanoch Levin I'd have a farce out of that visit. But here it is straight. The doctor took one look behind my ear, made a very bad face, grabbed my hand, and brought me to the nurses' office, where there was a line of people waiting for their flu shots and another line of people going out and holding their shoulders. My doctor pushed past them all and sat me down so the nurses could see it. The youngest nurse looked behind my ear, made that face again, and called the middle-aged nurse, who looked and called the senior nurse. All agreed that I had to go to Emergency. "Don't move. Where is your husband?" "I'm not going to Emergency - it'll take me all day..." "No, it's quiet around 10. You must go. Your ear will have to be sewn." "Why, if it hasn't been bleeding since last night?" "You almost lost your ear! They'll have to sew it up!" "But will I be able to wear a bikini?" Except for the fear of infection I just can't take this seriously.

But I have not been able to see this cut for myself, and trust the doctor a little more than Ezi in these matters, so i go. I stop home for food and supplies, Ezi picks me up, and we're off. And the nurses were right. Emergency is almost empty and I get a bed immediately. After a preliminary examination, with more faces made by the nurse and the senior doctor (for possible concussion - "does it hurt here?" "not more than usual," "can you do this?" "I haven't been able to do that for twenty years"), A plastic surgeon is called, and within minutes my diagnosis is complete. "If you don't want to have an eye job there's nothing more I can do for you." I just need a tetanus shot and some antibiotics and I can go home and take it easy.

In the mean time the ward is filling up, and by the time I'm getting my shot, the beds are filled with young men. Senior Doctor calls out to the staff, "Okay, now strip all the motorcyclists to their underpants," and I realize that this is part of the urban hospital routine. It is 11:00 a.m. - the delivery guys are out in full force on the streets. Of course with the way they drive some of them are going to wind up in Ichilov hospital.

By 12 I am home and in bed for the afternoon so I can feel well enough tonight to go to see Hanoch Levin's play, "Make my Heart Flutter." I don't want to miss it because I am translating it and can't stop chuckling over the dialogue. It may have colored my 'ear experience.'

No, it will be "Thrill My Heart." Better title, no?

November 6, 2007

I was sorting books to be given away today and came across Gina Al-Hadaiyeff's book on her gradual discovery of her Jewish origins and her visit to the property her family had lost when they were forced to leave Egypt in '48. It was next to Durrell's Alexandria Quartet which also features a Jewish woman in Egypt. And there was Ruth Setton's book on Morocco and a number of other memoirs that included exiles of Jews from Arab countries. If I hadn't been piling books on the floor I wouldn't have noticed this, but there is a wealth of material about this. And because I'm really not well yet, I left the books on the floor and went back to my computer in bed where I received this article from Robert Whitehill about the conspiracy to persecute 850,000 Jews from Arab countries in 1948. A subject that never comes up, but is all over the floor in my study.

The strike at the university is following the usual pattern. A little disinformation from the authorities, a few warnings, salary witholdings, etc. Hard to believe such sophisticated authorities play such childish games. It reminds me of when I thought about getting divorced, and I went to some high-powered lawyer and he told me I have to start making my husband's life miserable so he'll make a good settlement with me. He gave me a list of standard things to do, one more repulsive then the next, and I walked out of his office, threw up, and erased his name from my mind. The university authorities must be remembering his name now.

Why did I link the two - because both are based on power games to 'achieve' the most, not on solving the problem. For example, a letter telling me I cannot make plans for the end of the semester because the semester will be extended was sent out yesterday to the faculty. Most of the faculty I know have already 'made plans' for this time a year in advance. They're giving papers in conferences, going to restricted libraries, meeting with colleagues abroad. This is absolutely necessary for the universities because in networking the faculty enrich their own knowledge and expand their connections with the world, helping to develop the reputation of the universities themselves. So the letter is not only a false method to press the faculty members, but it also hurts the people who sent out that letter. Counterproductive.

November 7, 2007

For the past week I've been trying to do without CNN. The cable company broke off with them on November 1 for financial reasons and I've been too lazy to change companies. But where can i get the news? We get Israel news a lot, of course, and do give foreign items, but the emphasis is here. We get BBC too, but they're so myopic it can only used as a weak supplement. Fox only reminds me of how shallow news can be. Oy.

November 8, 2007

I don't want to write about news. It's much better to write about news stations. When I write about news stations I kvetch, but when i write about the news, I suffer.

When in the sixties the feminist movement began talking about the difference to the world if women used their mentality and cultural training to run things, what would have happened if someone had listened to us? Look at the women in our government - Tsipi Livni, Yulie Tamir, Dalia Itzik - all of them have different political directions but all of them use their education as women to achieve positive social goals. Unfortunately, however, the other side doesn't seem to favor feminist approaches. I don't care whether it is a man or woman in charge, it's the approach i care about.

By the way, Ahmedinijab seems to be saying he's going to wipe us out by next year. And I believe he will do his best.

Around seven every night, a neighbor next door goes out to feed the cats. I wish I could remember to bring my camera because every time I go out, I am enchanted by the sight - there, a meter apart in every direction, eyes on the still-closed door, are about a dozen felines, all different colors, shapes and ages. When they are not so perfectly arranged in anticipation of their evening meal, they can be found talking to each other or accosting strangers on the street, sometimes for food, sometimes just to say hello. It's a neighborhood of elderly ladiers so they are well-fed and most are neutered, but this is not the case everywhere. In the market, less than a block from Pappa's, the cats are lean, hostile to each other and suspicious of humanity. And just now Dorit sent me an article of her's about cats in Tel Aviv (in the Jerusalem Post) which indicates that this is the state of affairs in Tel Aviv. My neighborhood is run by women.

November 9, 2007

My ear is healing but my head remains weird. I am reminded of Sheikh Khwaity's words about my having 'woshwoshat' in my head. How did he know what would happen way back in the spring?

You won't catch ME saying irresponsible things without checking them out. The only problem is that I often say things and then check them out later. So after a few letters of inquiry about the neighborhood cats, I went out to ask some of the ladies who know more than I do about them. First, I was worried about J.P's question, do they eat birds? This bothered me more than the others because we are in the middle of a migration hub, and now is still migrating time. I found one of my favorite cat feeders saying hello to a ginger cat in from of the grocery. "Do they eat birds?" I asked her. "Do you?" she asked me. What other answer could I have expected in Tel Aviv? But of course I underestood she was saying that it would be a normal diet for a cat if the bird could be caught.) A passerby turned back to join our group, "Why do you want to know?" she asked me. (What she meant was is my question innocent or do I have designs on the cats. I ignored her.) "What about rats?" I asked my informant. "Do you see any rats around?" she replied. There was no point in continuing that line - she had to protect herself as well as the cats. "Has anyone ever been bitten by a cat?" "Why should a cat bite anyone?" the passerby intervened. By this time the grocer was holding his sides with laughter. "Why do have to ask so many questions? He said. "You want to tell people about the cats, show them a picture." So I will.

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