Tel Aviv Diary October 11-15, 2007- - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary - October 11-15, 2007

October 11, 2007

And nightmare it was. I have no patience for details but just imagine sitting on the tarmac in chicago for hours with only a prosletyzing Hindu for company. "You sound like the Bhaggavad-Gita!" I cried disparagingly at him at one point. And he almost swallowed his tongue for joy. My irony was born of the Jewish dislike of being told what to do, especially in matters of religion. But he remained convinced that his master's voice must always be heeded.

Appropos. our dog calmed from her shrieking hysteria when we picked her up from the kennel, only when she appeared to kiss the ground in our back yard.

And now from the trauma of the trip we are unable to move. Fortunately, most everything can be done by phone and internet around here -

Because I have an eternal ingrown toenail and I have given up doing it myself, I invite Natasha over every month. Usually she is cheerful and even with her broken Hebrew we communicate easily, but today she was overwrought because her mother in Moscow is very ill. When I tried to get her to talk about her mother, she came out with innumerable tales. This is one:

In the military laundry at Tobolsk--
Where they cut a hole in the riverís ice
To get water for boiling,
The uniforms that came from the Front
Sometimes unfolded surprises
Like limbs or intestines.

In the waters of the Irtysh
All was made clean
All that is left
Is the memory of a dying woman.

October 12, 2007

Well it's only a draft - but it was as close to what she was saying as i could get.

Now to the present. There are at least 520 refugees from Darfur in Tel Aviv. They need clothes, stuff. Get your extra stuff together and I'll tell you tomorrow where to send or deliver it. This is the kind of stuff that is not advertised but it is ever present. I can't remember whether I even wrote about this but when we were coming back from Eilat on June 29, we stopped at a gas station/diner and I noticed a bus full of very black people in sweatsuits. What could they possibly be doing? When I went to the bathroom I saw two girls washing themselves in the rickety cold water sink, watering down their bodies and hair even though there was no soap. Their language was unrecognizable to me. Later that day I saw on tv that there were many Sudanese refugees deported from Israel, and that there were many who managed to stay here. But these are among those who have arrived more recently.

We delighted at Pappa's today. The article atWalla doesn't even begin to describe it. The pictures do.

eidl fitter began today. Blessings to those who celebrate it.

October 13, 2007

Our jet lag is so bad this time that all we can do is watch tv. The House on Chelouche Street kept me alert for a few hours. A film more credited than discussed, it is probably not as well known as it should be because the translation is so bad, but the combination of Hebrew, Arabic, Ladino and English is part of the atmosphere of social negotation in pre 1948 Palestine. An Egyptian Jewish widow and her children find themselves in Neve Tzedek from the terrifying days of the British Mandate to the War of Independence. I think I didn't see it before because it was received with the usual Israeli cynicism and the few words you may find about it on the web concentrate on the political simplicity, but I didn't find it simplistic at all. It was clear that the enemy changes all the time, and the widow can only concentrate on trying to keep her children safe from all of them.

Isn't that what we all try to do.

October 14, 2007

There is so much going on here - I watch the news and can't absorb the innumerable events that effect individual lives. I talk to a friend to get updated and it takes an hour on the phone. I'm walking down a deserted street and a black cat suddenly joins me, looks up at me and begins meowing as if he too has much to relate. Too much going on.

What are all these cats doing on the street? I can't figure it out. For years it has been the policy of the city vet to grab the cats, neuter them, and return them to the streets. But this one was definitely not neutered. Maybe that's what he was complaining about, that the municipality is after him.

Or maybe that the program to have their batteries removed is inhumane and he is a second class citizen.

Although there are millions of issues around here they are all related. or perceived to be. Apparently the family trips for Eidl Fiter caused an overload on the Safari today and the guards had a hard time supervising the visitors, making sure they don't get out of their cars in the dangerous areas. A child was gored by a territory-threatened hippopotomus and people were complaining about the lax zoo supervision. Who gets out of their car in wild animal territory?

October 15,2007

Yes, I know this whole country is wild animal territory.

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