Friday, September 29, 2006

The State of the Nation

I spent 70 shek last night trying to get out of Jerusalem and I failed. I literally sat on a bus for an hour but there was so much traffic that we just sat there on the road not moving. It was very frustrating. I started talking to the person sitting next to me, and eventually she knew my entire life story which actually didn’t really take so long to tell. It got to that awkward point where now you have exchanged pleasantries, you know that you don’t really want to keep talking but since you are stuck on a bus sitting next to each other, the ice has been broken and so now it’s rude not to acknowledge the other person’s presence So you have to talk, which was also annoying. Luckily the friend I was meant to meet was very understanding of my predicament and based on her advice, I got off the bus, Maybe I was just a bit even more frustrated because I am sick of this conversation which I am translating into English;

“Tell me your Hebrew isn’t exactly 100%, Where are you from? America?”
“No, I am from Australia”
“Aaaah Australia! It is my dream to go to Australia! It’s very far away!”
“ I Know, it’s at the end of the world and then left.”
“Tell me? Why would you leave Australia? Isn’t life easier there?”
“Well I am a Zionist! I guess for the same reasons that you stay in Israel and don’t move there, I have come here.”
“ But, where is your family?”
“They are all there.”
“You are alone? You are crazy! Why would anyone want to leave Australia to come here?”

I guess this conversation always leaves me slightly disconcerted. Maybe, because it forces me to question? Maybe, because I am not so happy with my answer? I reflect a bit more and realize that it is neither of those things…Maybe I just don’t want to be called crazy within the first minute of meeting someone, and have them pass negative judgement on a major life decision of mine… I’m not angry…I was angry when on my first day of work, I had to introduce myself to everyone and when I said I made Aliyah (go/rise up to Israel) last year, someone replied…What nonsense! You didn’t rise up to anything!...Maybe I just wish that the people that lived here, had a bit more pride. I guess I feel that these statements that they make are tinged with their personal disappointment in their experiences here…Maybe that is me passing my own personal judgement on them…I’d like to think that I am misjudging their motivation, but I don’t think I am, I almost feel like they are projecting the thought 'Are you not grateful for all the opportunities that you had in Australia that we never received here and never will?' perhaps this is stretching it..I don't know.... However, for me having changed my life to be here having to have this conversation on a regular basis and re-iterating these thoughts on a regular basis…this makes me feel a bit I dunno….duller.

On the whole Rosh Hashana thing…I was really surprised at how good it felt for my soul to be inside Shule. It was almost like I had been yearning to be there…It was a mixed feeling of being comfortable and relief and it was also surprising…My driving teacher in between screaming at me to watch out for the right…(it’s really weird having a whole car on the right hand side of you), also asked me to pray for him on Yom Kippur…He will be busy playing computer games…I replied that it won’t matter cause G-d still knows that he has been a bad person…he wasn’t impressed…he went quiet…oh well…maybe I should have thought before I said that out a loud.

I’m listening to Holly Throsby…Things Between People.
I’m reading A Nicaraguan Journey by Salman Rushdie because I saw my sister reading it once, and sometimes I feel like if you read the same books that other people read maybe you share some of the same thoughts as those people because the same words have passed through both of your headspaces…and you share that…an almost tangible type of reality when other things are missing…like her presence in the apartment around the corner.

Talking of presence….The other Friday night someone saw a ghost in my apartment. A little boy carrying a plate of food that slid into the dining room…the guest sitting next to him heard it too…I heard a rumour that ghosts don’t exist in Israel. I wasn’t really scared, but I want to know what he’s doing in my house…and if he wants to live here, maybe he should pay part of the rent, since it is a good location and all.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Shana Tova

As I muse over the past year and all my achievements, I think the thing I am most proud of is learning my Teudat Zehut number off by heart in Hebrew and English.
Peace and Love to you all far over the ocean....

Saturday, September 09, 2006


La Pedrera on its side...just turn it around in your mind

By the Beach in Callela de Mar

2 Old Men reading newspapers that I passed on a lazy sunday afternoon

You know when you go on holiday to a foreign land far away over the ocean, and it’s really exciting to taste the different flavours, to breathe air with spices and appreciate views of scenes that you only dream of. All of this comes part and parcel with experiencing things in a different language. When notation is curly and in a different script and people are babbling away in gibberish you also want to break the secret code and take delight in working out simple terms, and put on a foreign accent…

This is all well and good, however since I have been living in Israel now for over a year, and have to deal with this foreign language thing every day and also have to deal with Russian, Arabic and French, when I got off the plane in Espanya I was not excited to see everything in Spanish, in fact I was stressed. ¿Why? Because deciphering and having the feeling of not knowing 100% of what’s going on was what I was meant to be taking a break from. Not only that but it wasn’t only Spanish that I had to deal with but Catalan as well which is a funny unpronounceable mixture of French and Spanish – So I would break out into French or Hebrew in between Gracias and Amigos Para Siempre – What little Spanish I learned from watching ‘Strictly Ballroom’ repeatedly, and singing La Bamba in a Grade 4 school concert (which could be Portuguese for all I know).

¿Am I arrogant for wanting all signage to be in English as well? Considering there are more countries in the world where Spanish is the official national language over English – Probably. I think that the community of the blind tourists had a harder time than me, I noticed that there were a few signs that had Braille underneath them, but I had no idea, how blind people knew how to find these in the first place. Bearing that In mind I figured I could brave this language barrier so I plucked up my courage as I remembered Fran sayingVivir con miedo, es como vivir a medias! (A life lived in fear is a life half lived) and ventured out onto the streets of Barcelona!

In Short: La Ramblas, Port Veil, lotsa shopping on Passeig De Gracia, La Pedrera, La Sagrada Familia (an absolutely ridiculous construction), the beach, the bars in El Born, Musee Picasso, Montjuic and the magic fountain (Susie has an incriminating video of me pretending to be a ballerina there, luckily it was pretty dark when she took it ) oh and I treated myself to the Ballet at Teatre Liceu…did I mention Shopping in the back streets of El Raval, Jazz in the Park, Park Guell, Park Citudella, Place de Reial etc…you know you hate following the tourists everywhere but you do it anyway…One day we went off the beaten track after shopping all morning, we went to a Spa where they had this Turkish bath infused with Eucalyptus…With my eyes closed I relaxed and breathed in gum trees. I had just finished reading The Service of Clouds and had images of the Blue Mountains at the edge of my mind and this room swashed them a bit more as my whole body sweated sweet eucalyptus. Something that I really didn’t expect to feel in the middle of Barcelona.

A funny vignette: We bumped randomly into one of my friends, husband’s, cousins who I had never met before, even though we were both at their wedding, he was staying in my Pensione. He is a pilot. After he mentioned that, Susie and I went to town. We tried very, very hard to get him to say his Captain’s speech, you know “Welcome aboard Qantas flight Boeing 747 to Sydney this is your Captain speaking”, but even after we got him drunk he wouldn’t budge – he did however admit to always calling up during a flight to get sports scores….A true blue Aussie he is….

I can’t end without a funny Susie story…..
Susie: You know what’s great about Europe?
Me: What?
Susie: No one is wearing Crocs and there’s no pregnant women! It’s really weird!

A few seconds later as we arise from the Metro the first person we see is wearing Crocs and the second is pregnant.