Okay okay, so it’s not as bad as it sounded yesterday. A person is allowed to have a bad day.
Luckily my art class was great last night. My fellow students probably thought I was a raving lunatic, I was that weird (or maybe just silly). But I really didn’t care. I’m actually a bit embarrassed to say what I did. It sounds so silly. I’ll only say that I spent part of the lesson sitting on the floor completely wrapped in cardboard wrapping (I’m blushing just to be writing that).
If I was all artsy fartsy I could say it was the artist being the art or some rubbish like that. Our teacher said it was a pity she hadn’t brought a camera, but that wasn’t it at all. I wouldn’t have done it if there was a camera. I wasn’t acting. I wasn’t attention seeking. I was playing.
I think that as we grow older we forget about playing. Do you know what I’m talking about? It’s like Picasso who, I have read, reached perfection at the age of twelve and spent the rest of his life learning how to draw as a child.
We have to learn how to play again. When we were children it came naturally, we just did it. But we have lost that natural ability, shed it like an old skin, and it was left discarded somewhere along the path, unwanted and unneeded, or so we thought.
When I say playing, I don’t mean pretending to be children and ingratiating ourselves on any kids we happen to know, although some people are good at playing with kids without any pretending, like my Bish. I’m not, but mind you I wasn’t much good at playing with kids when I was a kid myself. It’s not that.
And I don’t mean playing games, with set rules and teams and clearly stated goals. It’s not about winning or even about ‘participating’. I mean playing free, with no aim, with nothing to gain, just for the fun of it. Just because.
And that’s what I did last night in my art class. I couldn't understand why i was so happy, then I remember thinking to myself "Hey, I'm playing!"
So why did I keep wanting to apologize that I wasn’t sitting nicely by the table and creating something that could be seen and touched, something that I could take home to show Bish?
why not a fish
Wednesday, March 30, 2005
Okay okay, so it’s not as bad as it sounded yesterday. A person is allowed to have a bad day.
Tuesday, March 29, 2005
More thoughts on the decision to not grant citizenship to the children of foreign workers.
Government policy is rarely unaffected by bureaucracy and the government finds it hard to get anything done if the bureaucrats are opposed. Remember that excellent BBC series ‘Yes, Minister’? It had us rolling on the floor in hysterics, but we could just have easily been crying and pulling out our hair in despair. It was so painfully realistic it was tragic.
When Bish was toting his law draft around the relevant government ministry, the elected policy makers were all for it. It was the “professional” bureaucrats that torpedoed it. One of them in particular had no problem at all to lie through his teeth to get it thrown out, simply because it made him look bad.
My strong feelings about this subject probably stem from a personal place. It's always personal.
Recently, I’ve been feeling disillusioned and depressed by my fifteen years in one particular corner of the public service. I don’t usually talk about this here, and I probably should just keep my mouth shut, but I am so utterly fed up. I used to believe my work meant something, that it was beneficial to society.
I’m not sure if things really have got so much worse or if it’s my eyes that have now opened wide enough to witness the general laziness and lack of interest, the ineptitude, the stupidity.
Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe it’s all just (un)healthy (but) normal mediocrity. Maybe instead of lowering my expectations I’ve been raising them far too high, for reasons connected not to my workplace, but to blogging and to the insights it has presented me (so much for the joys of being aware). Maybe it is a new and perhaps misguided confidence in my abilities that is pushing me to demand more not only of myself but of those around me.
Whatever the reasons, these strong feelings of dissatisfaction have been stifling my ability to express myself lately. I’ve got to get out of this bitter little rut I’m stuck in and get on with things.
Maybe I need some of that bureaucratic indifference myself so I won't be upset by it all. There seems to be enough of it going round.
Monday, March 28, 2005
I spent the afternoon reading Nathan Alterman's play "The Ghosts' Inn". I haven't read it since high school. Powerful stuff. I didn't really understand it in high school, but even so I was very moved by it.
I'd like to say something about it right now, but I'm not sure what. I think I'll just go and wash my hair.
Sunday, March 27, 2005
The Horror of Bureaucratic Indifference.
Someone I know is privy to the inner workings of a ministerial committee that grants and revokes licenses to those wishing to work in a certain profession. On occasion he has commented on the arbitrary fashion in which the committee members vote to revoke licenses, unaware or uninterested in the fact that they are taking away these people’s livelihoods, sometimes unfairly, sometimes just on a technicality, destroying small businesses that have been painstakingly built up over years.
It’s not that they are bad people sitting on this committee, my friend explains to me. They are good and well meaning. It’s just that they never take the time to think of the implications of revoking a license. They don’t really regard these hard working professionals, struggling to make a living, as real people.
For many years the committee had no representative of the professionals it was discussing, and ultimately judging, among its members. They saw no need for such a representative; they were not really interested in the point of view of the people they were dealing with. In recent months, as a result of much lobbying, a representative has finally been appointed to the committee, revolutionizing its work purely by forcing its members to see the consequences of their bureaucratic indifference.
On Friday evening Youngest (at the ripe old age of nearly ten) observed that she didn’t like this country. She said she liked the way the country looked and this was home and she didn’t see herself living anywhere else, but she didn’t like the way the people behaved. I was unhappy about this observation, until Bish commented to me quietly that Youngest had been very upset by the item we had just been watching on the news about how the state had decided not to grant citizenship to a limited group of children of foreign workers, who had been born here, who had grown up here, and who were now between the ages of ten and eighteen. I must admit it had upset me as well. Maybe I too am not proud to live in a country that behaves in such an inhumane way.
Bish pointed out that the decision didn’t stem from racism or from wickedness. He said it was just indifference to the fact that these are real people, real children. Not numbers, not statistics.
It was apparently the Ministry of Finance (dear big hearted Bibi Netanyahu) that was opposed, fearing it would be costly, and the Ministry of Industry and Trade, who feared it would complicate things for them in some way. God help us.
Well, I don’t care why the decision to treat these children like human beings was turned down or by whom. I say it’s time to stop this and just do what's right. These kids have grown up Israeli and now they're our responsibility.
There are only a few hundred of them for goodness sake, a few thousand at the outside. And it's not as if they're only out to use the state. They will do their military service, they will work and pay income tax. They will raise families to love this country. They want to be here, not to ruin us or use us, but to be a part of it. They get dressed up in fancy dress in Purim, for goodness sake, even though they're not Jewish. So what if they don't qualify according to some law. They're just as Israeli as everyone else they grew up with.
Update: As always, Alisa has interesting observations:
Imshin, the two issues are not the same. Although there is very likely a considerable degree of bureaucratic indifference involved in the handling of the issue of foreign workers' children, we should not forget that the question whether to let them stay is a question of policy. I tend to agree with you (albeit very reluctantly) that they should be allowed to stay, but that is really for the politicians, not for the bureaucrats to decide.
Friday, March 25, 2005
We had such fun today! Dizengoff Street was very crowded. There were loads of people, many in fancy dress, but not enough. I don't see how you can go to a fancy dress carnival without even a symbolic silly hat or something. Any way, it was pretty hectic. There were stalls and things at the edges and Brazilian dancers. We managed to see some body painting going on before we fled. You know me and crowds, not good friends. And our visitors from England - we didn’t want them completely shell shocked.
We were a party of ten, our cousins, R.T., and us, and we’d come in two taxis and a scooter. But getting there turned out to be the easy part. The problem was leaving. No taxis to be found, we eventually got a bus to north Dizengoff, where we went for a hummus lunch at Hummus Assaf, our favorite.
It was a beautiful day, lovely and sunny. Not too cold, not too hot, just right, and most important - no rain. Amazingly, we’d managed to get everyone at least slightly dressed up. Even Bish had this horrible blond wig on. It went well with the stubble on his chin! He looked rather forbidding, but he still managed to get on like a house on fire with my cousin’s youngest daughter. There are three of them, and they all got rides on Bish’s scooter. Plucky parents!
The girls seemed to get on fine with my two, eventually, after the ice broke a bit. My girls started to discover what I have known all along – that their English is far better than they realize. Their problem was understanding their cousins’ London accents. Not quite the same as Hollywood sitcoms.
After lunch we went for a walk along the Yarkon River, which was hopping. Loads of people, walking, riding bikes, rowing. Hearing music from the other bank we made our way over towards the crowds we could see. They were selling Irish beer and they had bands playing Irish songs.
You see, tomorrow night there’s a big soccer game in Tel Aviv between Israel and Ireland. Tel Aviv is apparently full of Irish fans. We even spotted a few at the happening in the park. They got them up to sing ‘It’s a long way to Tiperrary’ and have a drinking contest.
So there were stalls and things there. We particularly liked the mock sumo wrestling. It’s good – two people from the crowd put on suits that make them look (and weigh) like sumo wrestlers and then they have a go at each other.
I’m so glad we took them out. We usually steer clear from crowded events and today really was fun, even Dizengoff.
No photos. I forgot the camera, as usual.
Our Sis had our cousins over for dinner this evening. I'm afraid we must have worn them out, because she rang to tell us that the girls were passed out on the couch. Serves her right for not inviting us!
Cross posted on Israelity.
Thursday, March 24, 2005
Tuesday, March 22, 2005
Dolphins in Haifa Port!
I just saw them on TV. Spectacular.
Monday, March 21, 2005
Purim costumes are ready! I’m particularly proud of the Little Red Riding Hood one I made for my eldest daughter because I made it from scratch. I love that – bringing home a piece of material, folded up, lifeless, and making it into a garment that someone can wear and enjoy.
Eldest has been treated to a great cape and hood, even if I do say so myself. The material, bought in Nahalat Binaymin Street next to Carmel Market, is wonderful – I don’t know what its called, but it’s a lovely deep red and it’s heavier than satin, which is the obvious choice for costumes. I’m glad I didn’t use satin. Satin always looks flimsy and cheap. The skirt underneath is satin, red with white dots, but somehow it works.
I bought the basket (eggs and bread for grandma, wasn’t it?) in Jerusalem a fortnight ago. We went from work to visit a friend who was sitting Shiva for his father (the seven days of mourning). Riding along in the car on the way back, I suddenly spied a wicker shop, and shouted, “Stop! Stop!” So everyone had to wait while I went to buy a basket for Eldest’s costume. I was very popular, you can imagine. Oh well, they’re used to me by now.
The weather has been very sunny and nice lately so I hardly gave any thought to the fact that Youngest’s costume was a spruced up summer dress, until I heard on the news that it was going to rain on Wednesday. Wednesday is the day the kids go to school for their Purim carnivals before the Purim vacation. It always rains. I can’t believe I didn’t think of it.
So this afternoon on the way home from work I searched the children’s clothes shops in the area for some sort of suitable little cardigan. Naturally, they’re stocked for summer. No little cardigans in white or pink to be found anywhere. Eventually at home I managed to find a little pink jacket that just fits, although it’s a bit tight. Not marvelous, but it will have to do.
I’ll be going out on the town with my girls this Purim. I never do that because I dislike crowds, but my cousin is coming from England with his family and we’ll be doing Dizengoff Street with them on Friday morning. The paper says there will be things going on there. I fancy the Adloyada (Purim parade) in Hatiqva Market, but everyone agrees that this will be a bit of a culture shock for our visitors’ young daughters. Hatiqva neighborhood is a poor neighborhood in the south of Tel Aviv. The market there is not as impressive as the famous Carmel Market (in fact, it can be a bit depressing at times), although the amba on sale there is reputedly the best you can get.
Saturday, March 19, 2005
Still sewing fancy dress costumes for Purim. Youngest's is ready. She's a doll. Eldest's is nearly ready. She's Little Red Riding Hood. I'm particularly pleased with the red cloak. I've got to make her skirt now. A bit tricky.
Thursday, March 17, 2005
Wednesday, March 16, 2005
Important message to all visitors from World Arms Forces Forum: You are very welcome, but please be advised that this blog has absolutely nothing to do with Imshin-Y#%' (Login Negev-Warrior) who has been posting on your forum in embarrassingly bad English. I have no idea who he is and I have nothing to do with the strange things he’s been posting on your forum.
And to my usual readers: Yes!! Someone is pretending to be me! Finally! A real live imposter!
Does that mean I’m, like, somebody?
Monday, March 14, 2005
No time to post. Busy making fancy dress costumes for Purim. Details some other time. I can't believe I've left it this late.
Sunday, March 13, 2005
From the Steven Spielberg Jewish Film Archive – a film made about Tel Aviv in 1947 (you have to be patient if you want to watch this). 19 minutes of unabashed Zionist propaganda, probably aimed at opening the hearts and the wallets of wealthy American Jews. Parts of the narration are more than a bit embarrassing.
But the pictures are so magical for me. Tel Aviv as it used to be. Clean, sweet, optimistic. My mother-in-law says it breaks her heart to see how Tel Aviv has aged since her childhood in the young city of the nineteen thirties and forties.
Today I had lunch on Dizengoff Street with an old friend. We grew up together in Haifa and in our early twenties we shared a little apartment just off Dizengoff. Sitting together in the sun brought back such memories. Ein ma la’asot (nothing you can do about it), noisy, dirty, busy -- Tel Aviv still has its magic.
Cross posted on Israelity.
Saturday, March 12, 2005
Talking about translations, Bish has finally found a good translation for Rudyard Kipling’s ‘If’. There are about fifteen really bad ones, including Yair Lapid’s which is particularly annoying. Un-beautiful and unfaithful.
No, this is the best yet. Bish found it on an Israeli forum where it had been posted anonymously, by someone who said that he had no idea who translated it, but that he had found it in handwriting on a piece of paper in a drawer in his home. Very intriguing.
By the way, the photograph of the wall on March 8th (Karen's diary again) is just by my workplace. The front is the little watchmaker store I visited to have the links removed from Mum’s wristwatch after she died so I could wear it. The watchmaker was old and his hands shook and he was sooooo slow.
אם / רודיארד
אם תוכל לשמור על שקט וקור-רוח
עת מסביב לך שוררת מבוכה,
אם בין מפקפקים תוסיף להיות בטוח
אבל גם לספק תדע לתת לבך;
אם להמתין תוכל בלא להתייגע,
אם ממרמה תרחק עת היא אותך תיסוב
אם בשנאה תוקף ובה לא תינגע
מבלי להראות חכם מדי או טוב.
אם כל חלומותיך לך יהיו לעבד
אם מחשבות לך - כאמצעי בלבד
אם נצחון תפגוש או מפלה נוקבת
ובשניהם - בני בלע - תנהג מנהג אחד;
אם תוכל לסבול דברים אשר השמעת
בהיסלפם להיות מלכודת לבורים,
אם את מפעל חייך תראה שוקע מטה
ושוב תחל לבנות אותו מן השברים.
אם לאסוף תוכל את כל דברי הערך
אשר לך לערמה - ולסכנם
ולהפסידם ושוב לצעוד מראש הדרך
בלא להפטיר מלה על שאבד חינם;
אם לבבך יוסיף לפעום ללא מנוח
וגם בכבד העול, בעול יהי מושך
ולא יחדל גם עת אבד ממך כל כוח
כל עוד זה רצונך קורא אליו: המשך!
אם בין ההמונים תחזיק במידותיך
ובחצר מלכות תדע לנהוג פשטות
אם לא יוכלו לך אויביך או רעיך
אם כל אדם תוקיר כיאה וכיאות;
אם למלא תוכל כל רגע לא סולח
במלוא שישים שניות של יזע ושל דם,
לך תהיה הארץ וכל אשר עליה,
ועוד יותר מזה, בני - תהיה אדם!
Harry got stoned on the way to Jerusalem. Not that sort of stoned. Stoned as in had a stone thrown at him, by Palestinian kids.
Lovely post by SavtaDotty, about seeing Tel Aviv through the eyes of her visitors.
Can someone please explain this to me?
It's not me, in case you were wondering.
Afterthought: I don't know what to make of it at all. Should I be flattered or aggravated or what? I think I'll stick to amused.
A little story for Shabbat
The walls of the staircase leading up from Sergio’s apartment to Avraham’s were decorated with posters of popular Rabbis. Others promoted a political party - one not popular with ‘Tsfonim’ (North Tel Avivis) like us - and then there were a few well-endowed women, and some romantic sunsets. I’m sure the Crying Boy was up there somewhere too. The door to Avraham’s apartment was always open and the sound of loud Mizrahi (Eastern) music usually came wafting down through the stairwell. It clashed with Sergio’s jazz.
On the television news one evening, they showed the funeral of an old mobster, the kingpin of the sixties and seventies, who had not long returned from years in prison in Holland or somewhere, only to be murdered by old adversaries from the past. And there, filling the screen in our living room, was none other than Avraham, yes, Sergio’s Avraham, throwing himself on the fresh grave, crying out, “Sage! Sage!” for that was the dead kingpin’s nickname, “Why have you left us, Sage?”
I was always scared of Avraham, to the point that I used to be nervous about going to see Sergio, even though I always went with Dudi. More often than not, Avraham was lurking around the dirty old staircase, which reeked of urine when he wasn’t around and alcohol when he was. He’d suddenly appear from around a corner, or from behind a pillar – unshaven, sinister-looking, and shouting obscenities, frightening me half to death. Or he’d be sitting on an old aluminum chair in the entrance, with one of his unpleasant dogs and a bottle.
Dudi said he was just a poor, harmless old drunk who liked to scare people to make himself feel important. But then he and his eldest son took the old aluminum chair over to the vacant lot next to their building and started coercing people into paying them to park on it. That really freaked me out, although Avraham let us park for free. He seemed to respect Dudi for some reason I couldn’t fathom, calling him ‘Ba’al Habayit’* - Hebrew for ‘Guv’nor’.
He never spoke to me, Avraham, not one word, beyond greeting me with ‘Shalom’. He could talk for ages with Dudi, a lively twinkle in his eye, always seasoning his words with old Jewish sayings. He had that raw wisdom that is the result of a life of hardship. But he never looked at me while he spoke.
One time we were on our way up the stairs and he came down dressed only in his underwear. He didn’t see me at first, but when he did he amazed me by apologizing, not to me, but to Dudi, “I’m sorry, Ba’al Habayit. I didn’t know, I didn’t mean any disrespect. You’re not angry, Ba’al Habayit?…” And that’s when it dawned on me.
I was Dudi’s woman. By talking to me, or worse – revealing himself undressed before me, Avraham was infringing on Dudi’s rights. Maybe he thought Dudi would even be justified in harming him for such impropriety.
I wasn’t afraid of him after that. I even started going to Sergio with our little girl on a Shabbat. afternoon without Dudi. We’d go to the beach across the road first, and then go up to Sergio’s for a shower and a bite to eat.
I never once saw Avraham when I came without Dudi.
* Literally – Owner of the House.
Friday, March 11, 2005
Ynetnews reads Not a Fish!
From my mail box:
Alan D. Abbey | Managing Director | Ynetnews.com | Israel's best news website - now in English.
If you were in any doubt, I am very pleased about Ynet having an English version. It’s about time too. I’m even pleaseder now that the managing director has sent me an e-mail, like I'm somebody.
Now how about some links to Israeli-Anglo blogs, Hevr'e? (Besides your own, that is)
Talking about mail, Bish made me a Gmail account. You can mail me at imshinj at gmail dot com
Tuesday, March 08, 2005
I have another story up on Cafe Diverso. It’s the other sample story I sent them. Actually it was up yesterday already, but I am a bit shy about it. It’s not light and trivial like Sponja, and it touches a delicate place.
It’s called ‘The Birthday Boy’. It was maybe not the wisest story to be published there so early, but stories I've sent in since will hopefully even out the impression somewhat.
On Sunday evening I sent in my next batch of stories, and have been busy rewriting stories I sent in February, according to the editors’ requests. I tell you this Cafe Diverso thing is proving to be better writing experience than any creative writing course, or even blogging. I think blogging spoils us, actually, because we have such freedom.
Writing to order, more or less, is completely different. Having to align with certain objectives; having to keep the stories to a certain length, to certain subjects; having to work out what they will find acceptable without compromising myself -- it is all very challenging. (Don't worry, John. I'm not compromising myself).
Some of you have commented on the fact that Cafe Diverso lists Israel and Palestine together on their list of countries, and on the fact there is actually no sovereign state called Palestine right now.
When they first approached me I was also struck by this, so I wrote them the following:
When I asked Killian, founder of Cafe Diverso and a really nice guy, if I could post this exchange on my blog, he asked to add that ‘our objective is to 'bridge cultural divides' and that this forms the basis of our decision.’
So I just wanted you to know.
My comments on the matter seem to have struck a chord. Cafe Diverso’s Palestinian storyteller also seems to have remarked on the issue, and now they are rethinking the policy. I’ll keep you updated.
Saturday, March 05, 2005
Man and the Desert - the fun begins!
We finally went on our first real excursion with Avner Goren yesterday, in our Man and the Desert course, after it was cancelled last month due to rain. Bish chickened out at the last minute. I reckoned it was the early wake-up that broke him. So it was just R.T. and me. And a bunch of other people of course.
Listen, if any of you ever get an opportunity to listen to this person speak, in a language you can understand, do not hesitate. He’s wonderful. He brings the distant past to life in such a vivid, exciting way.
We visited two sites on the edge of the desert. One was a hole in the ground called Beer Tzafad on the outskirts of Beer Sheva.
It’s an interesting archeological site dug in the 1950’s that sadly has been neglected over the years.
The other was Tel Arad, which is desert today, but is believed to have had more rain 5000 years ago and therefore was on the edge of the desert.
See how green it all is. Hard to believe it will all dry up soon, and if you visit there in the summer all you’ll see is yellowy-brown land. The white stuff is flowers, by the way.
Naturally, the batteries of my camera finished just after I took this and before we had actually entered the site. So I’ve googled. There are plenty of photographs, although everyone seems more interested in the Israelite fortress with its temple, than in the Canaanite city which absolutely blew me away.
For one thing this was a big place, considering how long ago it was built (3100 BC).
A planned city with a great city wall, complete with watchtowers, some rounded and some square. The communal area includes buildings believed to have been a palace and a temple area. The roads were planned and there was even a primitive water system (Not the well you can see in some of the photos. That was from the Israelite period, 1400 years later). In Tel Arad you can see the typical Canaanite dwelling of the time, which is called the Arad house by archeologists.
(The reconstructions are by L. Ritmeyer, from the Israel Nature and Parks Authority leaflets. I hope Mr. Ritmeyer will not mind my use of his drawings here. They're too small to be copied and used elsewhere)
After Arad was abandoned and ruined between 2000 – 2400 BC probably as a result of economic changes that were going on in Egypt, Arad’s main market, it wasn’t built again as a city. The Israelites later built the fortress, as I’ve said, on one corner of it. This apparently made it an interesting dig, because the findings from that period were not buried under generations of later constructions.
Contrary to popular belief, Avner says that Jericho was not the oldest city in the world. The wall, dating back to 5000 BC, that had thought to have been a city wall turned out to have been a protective barrier to stop the water from the Jordan River from flooding the village that was there. The town came much later. Even the archeologist who had made the original claim accepted her mistake. The Palestinians continue to market Jericho as the oldest city though, for tourism reasons, and who can blame them?
Arad was one of the earliest cities though, and the site is very impressive, especially when consumed along with Avner’s explanations, and even though only a small part of it has been excavated.
I must say I’m looking forward to an evening lecture we’re having with Avner as part of the course, the week after next.
Wednesday, March 02, 2005
Tuesday, March 01, 2005
Happy Birthday SHOOSHA!
We're not certain that this is really her birthday, seeing as she was born in someone's backyard or under a bush or something. But this is the date on her innoculation card and that's good enough for us.
She seemed very happy with her special birthday tuna fish treat.I know she wasn't interested why she got it, just as she had no inclination to pose for a birthday photo, but the girls were very excited and they have been extra attentive to her all day.