Tel Aviv Diary September 30 - October 4, 2006- - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary - September 30, 2006 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

September 30, 2006

In case you haven't seen me read for a long time and miss it, try here. It's last year - but I've only figured out how to do it today. The videoclips you can see here.

You would thing that today, Slichot, would be especially quiet on the streets in Tel Aviv. Last night started out that way - the streets were empty. But by the time we left the rollicking and crowded Mishmish there was as much action in Tel Aviv as always.

Yes, we were supposed to be at the Dead Sea this weekend, but we lost the energy to go after all of our friends copped out on us. I had hoped all my girlfriends would meet me at the ein gedi spa, where i have had some wonderful moments in the women's mud bath section, but 10 friends cancelled on me one by one. One had to prepare for yom kippur, one had the flu,one had a computer mess, one broke up with her boyfriend, one's car overheated....

But the city never sleeps, and I found myself in a crowded restaurant on Dizengoff in the afternoon, in the midst of a completely different population from last night. Last night was people in their 20's and 30's, animated with pleasure. Tonight the people were the usual Tel Aviv mishmash, and their interests just as varied and confused. I appreciate both crowds, but as I had a business meeting in a Saturday afternoon, I couldn't really enjoy the scene as much as i normally do. How could I have a business meeting on Shabbat Tshuva? It wouldn't be considered business because everything i do outside the university is voluntary, and, i hope, does some good somewhere.

Bracha Kopstein, the 95 year old yiddish poet, is in the hospital - beit rivka to be exact. a visit there would be a very good last deed before yom kippur.

October 1, 2006

Unfortunately, however, I have the family over for the pre-Y-K meal and had to get a few things for the last minute cooking. While in the Ramat Aviv shopping center (Lev Aviv) everything is going wild with emptying the last dregs of today's coffee and DVDs, in the small one closer by they are using the parking lot to whirl roosters.

And as we are moving in to this day of awe Lisa sends out this link with the recommendation to avoid relying on spellcheck: View from Iran.

October 2,2006

The As Yom Kippur broke, we were looking over Tel Aviv and watched it return to life. The cars began to speed down the empty Ayalon highway, lights began to go on... Then we walked past the cafe's that were just beginning to open for customers. At home again, we just missed the news programs that opened the tv stations after the 26 hour hiatus, and the phone began to ring, and ring, and ring.

And the calls were like the beginning of the building of the sukkah right after Yom Kippur - keep life going.

October 3, 2006

So Israel is out of Lebanon. So Hizballah is as strong as ever, and we're as disorganized and confused as ever. The new year is looking very much like the old one.

What I'm really hoping will change is the situation in Gaza. There are many people there who would rather have electricity than the chaos they're living in.

And I am convinced that the better the situation is in Gaza the more likely are peace talks.

Gaza has never been a good place, and life has never been pleasant there, and many people I know say that violence is part of the Gazan character. I really don't believe it.

Here's a poem from a happier time


Gaza 1974


After dinner I'm alone with the grandmother,
while the men talk business
and wives feed the children
bumping each other in the hidden kitchen.

I am a guest, an English teacher,
new to the Middle East, without tongue,
and I cannot play in pantomime—
like my daughter—with the children and the goats.

In this bare room
the old woman talks
as if eventually I must understand
her language

since she speaks in the feminine.


When I cannot answer, even after her long
probing looks, she shrugs,
takes her crochet hook from a pocket,
and points out the window where a girl dances solemnly alone.

Her gnarled hands, wound with pink wool, move easily,
and soon she is making lovely rosettes in the bodice.
I take the hook and try to imitate, slip,
slip again, finally latch through the last eye
to pull the rose together. She smiles,
I show her a stitch of my own
which she examines, unravels,
then duplicates with a flourish.

October 4, 2006

We usually postpone celebrating our anniversary but this time we suddenly decided to go to "Mandy's on the River," a new classy restaurant at the Daniel Center. It was really last-minute, and I was in jeans and t-shirt when I should have been wearing something elegant and delicate, but, hell, it's a rowing center and even though I was way out of place, I was treated like a normal human being. which was great. But somehow it seemed like another country - I didn't know anyone. That's when I realized that usually in Tel Aviv I can't go anywhere without bumping into someone I know. It's like that old joke: Two Tel-avivians are walking down crowded Oxford Street in London and one says - "So many strange faces!" and the other says, "Yeah, they must be from Haifa."

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