Saturday, July 29, 2006

On a slightly greener note

And just to show that things aren't entirely bad, my balcony is in full bloom (almost) ...

Welcome to Israel ...

[start rant]

My friend Alexander (whom I wrote about here) has just called to tell me that his landlady, the very same, friendly, let-me-cook-for-you-and-sew-your-curtains-how-wonderful-that-you've-come-to-live-in-my-country landlady who, only last week, was threatening to become his best friend, has decided to put the apartment that he has just moved into - from overseas - up for sale.

And to add insult to injury, she is now complaining that he and his partner's objection to this is a sign of their failure to be flexible, "not like us Israelis," she adds haughtily.

To which I say, dear Mrs. Landlady, that sort of behavior is excremental. If you rent out an apartment for a year, then you rent it out for a year, especially to someone who arrives in the country, from overseas, to live, in the middle of a war!

[satisfying scream that wakes up neighbors having afternoon sleep]

[end rant]

New Look Blog

My old profile looked a bit to stuffy in my opinion, so here I am again with a brighter, whiter blog!

And, well, it seems a lot more mediterranean than the old profile (except for that strange Cape Cod looking contraption in the top left-hand corner ... anyone know what that's supposed to be?)

Friday, July 28, 2006

My own little milestone ...

10 years today since I made Aliyah.

And even more impressively (perhaps), 3 years in the same apartment.

I guess that means I'm here to stay ... ;-)

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The word on the Street is ... 'baaa'

My doggie is a white miniature poodle.

I am used to people stopping to pat him, and totally ignoring me - after all, he is a dashingly cute, fluffy white poodle. I can see the attraction in stopping to pat him. I myself do it every so often.

I am also used to children pointing at him from their strollers and saying things like "WOOF"!

That is cute.

What I was not prepared for, however, was the child who, two days ago, yelled out from his stroller as he was being pushed along Sheinkin Street - "Look Mum! It's a sheep!!"

I guess it's time to take him to get his hair cut again ...

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Life Goes On

This week, I had a rather unique, and exciting opportunity to make a difference to someone. And I wasn't really even aware that I was doing it (which makes it all the better, doesn't it?).

I have a virtual acquaintance from Greece whom I met via the internet last winter. Let's call him Alexander, as an illustration of his Greekness. We immediately hit it off, finding all sorts of common subjects of interest - particularly comparative religion, mythology, and (of all things) plants. But what pervaded most of our conversations was his excitement leading up to his move, this summer, to Israel, with his Israeli boyfriend of 5 years - whose name, for the purpose of this narrative, shall be Guy (I have no idea why ... it just sounds right).

As the months rolled on, I became a virtual answerer of questions for Alexander (where can we find a roof-top apartment? Where can I buy lots of nice Israeli natives (of the plant variety, in case any of you need that kind of clarification) for my roof-top balcony garden-to-be? Will they make my life hell at the airport when I arrive? - those sorts of things ...). I was more than happy to help this guy out, as it seemed to me that he was really looking forward to this move, and his enthusiasm to come and be part of this mad country, stirred something possibly long-lost in my own motivations to come here almost 10 years ago.

About a week before he was due to leave Greece, Alexander informed me that he'd sold his computer now, and wouldn't be logging on again until he arrived in Israel, and bought a new computer. I gave him my cell number, and told him to SMS me when he arrived.

And then the war broke out.

On the day the war broke out, he SMS'd me, still full of joy - he hadn't seen any news yet, and by this time he had no internet connection. I wrote back to him saying that I wasn't going to tell him what's going on, because it might all be over before he got here, but that he should probably watch the news.

I didn't hear from him for a few days, and I knew that they were busy packing everything up to get ready, so I hadn't really been expecting to hear anything. Nevertheless, something in me told me that I should write him a message. So I wrote the following:

"Just wanted to tell you that whatever you might be seeing in the news there, life here goes on. The situation is not ideal but don't be afraid. You have to take the good with the bad sometimes. Looking forward to seeing you!"

I left it at that.

Two days ago, I received a phone call from a Greek phone number.

"Hi," the voice said, "It's Guy, Alexander's boyfriend. You don't know me, but I owe you so much."
I said "What did I do?"
He said "Everyone was putting terrible pressure on him not to come to Israel now. He was threatening to cancel, you know. And I told him that I was going back anyway, with or without him. Even though I didn't want to come back without him, but we had been planning this for so long, and I wasn't going to let some war get in the way. We almost broke up over it. And then you sent your sms, and suddenly he said to me 'this was my idea in the first place. This is what I want to do and I want to do it with you'. You saved my relationship, and I have to thank you for that."
"Wait," I said. "Are you in Israel?"
"Yes," he replied. "We arrived yesterday."

So we met on Friday. Alexander is suffering a little from culture shock, but he told me he's not at all concerned about the war. He's more concerned about the fact that Israeli yoghurt is not Greek yoghurt (well, it isn't, he's right). And he's worried that his landlady is going to want to become their best friend (she's already been around with cakes and offers to make them curtains). But he's not concerned about the war.

Because, he said to me, life goes on, and you've got to take the good with the bad ...

Friday, July 21, 2006

Judging by the way she's dressed ...

Judging by the way she's dressed, it looks like she was definitely planning to hit one of the night clubs in the new port area.



Why oh why oh why do people get to the tops of escalators, and just stop?

Have they, in the long journey from one floor to the next, forgotten where they wanted to go?

Or are they simply bewildered by the technology and disoriented by the fact that the stairs, for some reason, have stopped moving?

People! When you step off an escalator, you've got to keep moving forward! There are other people behind you ...

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

In which I became a taxi company for a few hours

I didn't want to be a taxi company. Truly. I don't even own a car.

However, this did not stop me from receiving dozens of calls this morning, from about 6:00 am, all of whom wanted me to send them a taxi.

Now, I want to preface my rant with a sub-rant. I used to turn the ringer of my phone off at nights, in order to prevent myself being woken up by unsolicited callers (like my mother, for instance) at ungodly hours of the morning (say, 10:00 am). But now, I have a new-fangled Bezeq digital hands-free flashy silver-looking space-age telephone, with all sorts of whizz-bang features. You might be forgiven for thinking that one of these features is "turn the ringer off". You might be misled into thinking this by the actual existence of such an option on the phone's menu. You would be wrong. On this phone, 'turn the ringer off' actually means 'turn the ringer down a little'. This is a phone that simply doesn't want you to miss a call. I have a feeling that Bezeq has an entire laboratory full of Jewish mothers, designing phones that are guaranteed to wake their sons up at all acceptable kvetching hours.

However, my mother, it should be noted, has gotten the hang of things, and these days never calls me before 10:00 am anyway.

[End of sub-rant. Begin main rant]

So imagine my surprise when I hear the phone ringing this morning at 6:00 am ...

It's in another room (because, as I might have mentioned, I can't shut it up, so it can at least be as far away as possible), and by the time I got to it (and don't forget, I had to go and try and answer - after all, we're in a war here), it had stopped, but when I looked at the number that had called (what a great feature that is), it wasn't one that I recognized.

I shrugged at my dog who had come to have a look as well, turned around, and went back to bed.

As Murphy would have it, no sooner had I fallen asleep than - you guessed it - it started ringing again. I missed it again, but still didn't recognize the number.

Finally, at about 8:00 am, I managed to get to it before it stopped ringing. And on the other end was a very angry woman shouting that she'd been trying to get hold of me for two hours and could I please send her a taxi. A taxi?

I told her that I am many things, but I can't help her with taxis, and that she'd be better off phoning a taxi company for that. She didn't sound convinced. "You don't have any taxis?" She asked me. "Not now, and not ever," I replied. "Not possible," she said. "I called the _____ taxi company". "But you got me," I said, "and I am not, and have no desire to be, a taxi company".

Since she wasn't sure, she tried ringing again. Of course, she got me. I explained to her that I still wasn't a taxi company.

I was about to phone Bezeq and see why they had me listed as a taxi company, when the phone rang - a different number this time - but still, asking me to send them a taxi. Once again, I explained that I was not a taxi company, only to be told by the guy on the other end that that doesn't make sense, because the number that he'd called was the number of the taxi company. But the number he'd called was not my number. This was getting weird. I told him that I'm going to phone Bezeq and find out what's going on. He suggested I do that, indeed.

Then he called again and asked me why I hadn't called Bezeq yet. I told him that I was trying to, and if he'd get off my phone line, I might even manage.

The woman at Bezeq was helpful - in her own special way. She explained to me that most likely, someone at the taxi company had forwarded their phone line to my number, instead of to some other number of their own. The problem was that we weren't sure which number had been forwarded to mine, since the taxi company in question has several numbers, and Ms Bezeq couldn't find which one had been forwarded to me. "Perhaps," she suggested, "you can just wait and see if it resolves itself."

Yes, that's exactly what I should do.

In the meantime, I think I'd better invest in a few taxis. There seems to be a demand ...

Bombs and Black Outs

Having checked where my friendly local bomb-shelter is (just in case, not that I'm panicking or anything ...), I decided to take a look at it yesterday while walking my doggie (it is on our normal pooping round). And yep - it's there. And there's a lovely shiny padlock on it, keeping it very firmly and convincingly closed. Good to know. We have a minute to get there if a siren goes off. I just hope that the 'Gingi' with the keys - whoever he may be - doesn't chose that minute to take his Yediot Ahronot to the toilet with him ...

In other news, we had an electricity black-out this morning. I was sure that something big had been hit. And apparently the black-out was almost country-wide. But rather than it being the result of someone targetting our electricity supplies, the Electricity Company explains that (as quoted in Ynet in Hebrew) some sort of switch blew, causing the Ashdod Power Station to simply crash.

Now, I don't know about you people, but I know that in my place, if I have the aircon on in one room, and the hot water boiler on as well, I can't for instance, turn on the kettle, because it will short out my entire apartment. This was, I thought, a given when living in Israel. So I can just imagine the look on the face of the little guy in the Ashdod Power Station who plugged that kettle into that socket that's falling out of the wall (you know the one, right? with the five extension cords attached to it?), and then let out a little "oops!" before running off to pretend that he was really in the bathroom when it happened.

Once again, I am forced to think, that the people in the Electricity Company are simply being paid too much ...

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Club Med?

From today's New York Times online edition (the one what I get in my inbox, like).

Bombings Bring Season of Fear to Seaside Resort
The Hezbollah stronghold of Tyre, Lebanon, has become a
target of Israel’s bombing campaign.

I can just imagine the conversation in the tourist bureau:

Travel Agent: "Well, we do have an opening in Tyre, which is in Southern Lebanon"
Prospective Tourist: "Ooh, that sounds exotic"
TA: "Yes, very exotic. It's an ancient Phoenecian city, you know ..."
PT: "Ooh, Phoenecian eh? Lots of ruins then, I guess."
TA: "Oh yes, lots of ruins. Beautiful seaside really ... um, there is a bit of a catch though."
PT: "Oh, what's that then?"
TA: "Well, a militant Islamic group are using it as a stronghold ..."
PT: "Oh" [thoughtful pause] "pretty cheap in the off-season then is it?"

Monday, July 17, 2006

No pain, no gain

Following, as always, in Savtadotty's ingenious footsteps, I decided that I need to have a plan to see me through this war. This is not because I fear that Tel Aviv might soon be a target. Apart from the fact that I am, as ever, alert, it is also my personal (and therefore completely unfounded) opinion (read 'desperate hope') that if Nasrallah had been going to hit Tel Aviv, he would have done so by now.

No, the reason I need a survival plan is that I need to have something that's going to actually physically pull me away from the television / internet / other medium of choice and stop me from turning into part of the furniture.

Therefore, I have just returned from the gym, which I have just joined.

Yes, once again, I have parted with a not-inconsiderable amount of well-earned money, in the hopefully not entirely vain hope that this time, as opposed to countless other times, I might in fact make use of my gym membership.

I have two reasons for thinking that:

1. The gym has a pool
2. There's a war on

I figure that at the very least, if I end up looking like this then it can't have been all bad, and if I don't, then I can always blame the Hizbollah.

I celebrated by swimming a whole kilometer (with breaks of course!). And I'm now a little achy ...

Dan Gillerman at the UN

It's a little long (10 mins) and requires RealPlayer (... no comment ...), but if you go here you will find a link to Israeli Ambassador to the UN, Dan Gillerman's informal comments to the media, after yesterday's security council meeting. There's a nice bit at the end about Mother Theresa.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Friends in the Blogosphere

Just because she did it to me, I'm doing it to her ... LOL.

My friend Noorster's blog.

Now, all I need to do is work out how to blogroll and I'll be ready for anything Nasrallah wants to send my way (except, perhaps, his bombs ...).

Panic? or just Getting Ready?

Not sure if this is a sign of panic, but I've just noticed three things about myself:

1. I went out and bought a six-pack of mineral water - and I never buy mineral water.

2. I have the radio on - and I never have the radio on.

3. I actually called the municipality to find out where my local bomb shelter is, and checked that I can take my doggie there (and yes, I can).

Now the only problem is - I haven't got a thing to wear!

Be Alert!

I just woke up, once again at the crack of noon, to read that Ynet, here, (sorry it's in Hebrew, the English version of this page hasn't come out yet) is reporting that our Rearguard Forces are warning residents of Tel Aviv to (and I quote) 'Be Alert'.

The article quotes military sources as saying that they've reassessed the Hizbollah threat and based on their reassessments, places as south as Tel Aviv might be a target (this means, of course, that they always knew Tel Aviv was a target, they just weren't going to tell us).

This comes after the renewed attacks on Haifa, killing 8 people this morning.

So they got it wrong before, they changed their minds, and now they want me to be alert. I can't help thinking just what that means. I mean, the delapidated building I live in has no common bomb shelter, and my own apartment hasn't got one either, nor do I have a "secure living space" as required under modern building codes, as this place was built before there were such requirements. I don't know where the local bomb shelter is, or if they'll let my dog in there (they probably will, he's totally cute).

But the important thing is, they want me to be alert. Alert for what? Bombs? I think it's going to be a little late to be alert if I can see the bombs already dropping. What am I supposed to do? Point at them? Shout: "there they are!!"? I'm supposed to be alert.

Reminds me of a joke my father tells: 'Be alert, the world needs more lerts' ...

Friday, July 14, 2006

I'm Ba-acccccccccccccck!

Ok, well, we're at war, apparently, so I've decided to revive my blog. I think that's the sort of thing you do when there's a war going on. Particularly since I've found myself feeding off other blogs and news-sites for information and desperately wanting to have my own say - so here I am! I expect you all to applaud in your thousands!

I came back to look at my blog this afternoon, following a lonnnnnnnnnng absence, to discover that somehow I had attracted the interest of two spammers (see comments section on immediately previous entry). I am totally intrigued by the wonders of spam and how they just get in everywhere, which is why I'm leaving the comments there in the meantime.

Anyway, this is just to say I'm back, and isn't it wonderful that I am, and all that.

Of course, no-one except the spammers is reading this right now, but heck, even they deserve attention. After all, we are at war.