Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Our Israeli family

Hi all

Recently back from our lovely new pad in Tel Aviv, enjoyed immensely despite even closer proximity of parents. Among other things, we entertained many guests and saw lots of family which turned out not to be so painful this time, as we're now old enough to appreciate them a bit more, and recognise that having a place there means we can't use the "we're tourists here on holiday so 5 mins per relative only" excuse. Turns out they're really interesting people with personalities of their own and everything...

Our family our there consists mainly of cousins on mum's side, including grandpa's first cousins Zvi and Meir Rigbi. Both are in their late 80s, but are still very active. Meir is lecturing on biochemistry at Hebrew U (Kobi, do you know him?) and is busy writing up some research he did for his umpteenth PhD, on medicinal use of leeches and how they produce anti-coagulants.

Zvi recently completed a lecture tour on specialised rubber derivatives and does the odd bit of consulting for civil engineering projects in Israel. Both are hilarious and like wordplay in whichever of the 54 languages they speak. For example, I pointed out to Zvi that I had had some gripes since being in Israel. He asked in a Cockney accent whether the gripes here were sweeter than the ones at home - certainly a better effort than dad's best joke of the year so far.

No doubt he is very proficient at Scrabble, as is grandpa's sister Deb. She and I were joined by mum for a game - mum fluked an 8-letter word across a double word score on her second go and the game was over. Then I had 6 vowels to contend with, and traded my letters in - for Q,J,X,Z. Needless to say, I lost. Any suggestions for words incorporating these letters gratefully received.

Now Deb is known in the family for being forthright and rather gruff. Not the world's greatest conversationalist, her greatest work was a letter to Golda Meir in 1965, that despite our best efforts, historians have continued to overlook as the trigger for the 6-Day War 2 years later.

I also think she may have missed out on a career in ladies' golf. Last year we took her to visit grandpa's other sister Shulamit, sadly no longer with us. We were walking them through the grounds of Shulamit's home when I pointed out a dog turd in our path a couple of yards ahead. Deb took one look with her beady eyes and then clubbed the offending faeces with her stick. The poo hurtled through the air like a Tiger Woods tee shot, coming to rest a mere 2ft from the bin, giving her a birdie and a round of 85.

Uncle Zvi's grandchildren Anat, Yuval and Omer are about our age, but until now we've not spent much time with them. They turned out to be really good fun - we hung out at their house with cool aunt and uncle Abi and Noach on Mimouna, the party night at the end of Pesach, and ate loads of meat, mufleta and baklava. Loads and loads. Mmmmm.

We didn't see much of Omer, who was on leave from the army and was understandably prioritising some time with his girlfriend. But Anat and Yuval took me and Helen out for a drink or two at a stylish bar/cafe in Nachalat Binyamin, which turns from trendy art and food market in the day to trendy meat-market by night. Anat is a vet at the animal hospital in Holon, where she specialises in cardiology. She was also able to explain how dogs conceive and then give birth to puppies belonging to different fathers in the same litter. I needed a large cocktail after that.

Think that's enough relativity for the time being, I've booked my next trip for June/July already and will no doubt have more to say then...

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