Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A life less ordinary

I think I am in love. At least, the whole movie schtick about being in love is that all your senses are heightened, and you become almost autistically aware of everything around you in a heady and pulsating new way. Well, if this is the case, I am in love with Tel Aviv.

A simple jaunt to the beach near to sunset brings with it a series of very Israeli cameos.

Firstly, as I come down onto Ruppin, there's the mother with two children in the back of the car, the car wedged into a space about 3 inches longer than the vehicle, warning her kids (in Hebrew - I think I understood this correctly but some of the vocab hasn't come up in my first 4 days of ulpan) that "mummy has to make some bumpies to get the car out so hold on".

Just around the corner on Shalag, I notice a middle-aged lady outside an old block with no lift, in heated discussion with a guy on the ground floor and another on a top floor balcony. They have installed a very neat little winch system and have hooked up crates full of the lady's shopping, and are having the classic 3 Jews, 4 opinions moment on how to get the goods to the 4th floor. I consider adding a 5th and even 6th perspective, but there is a picture-postcard moment in front of me as the sun drops behind a fluffy cloud and a halo of dusty pink rays shoot out in every direction.

As I come down the ramp to Gordon Beach, a very large labrador has just spotted a tiny little bassett and decided to make friends. The owners are giggling away as the lab appears to give it a sloppy kiss on the forehead. One of those instants that ends up on the nasty black-tinged posters with tacky quotations that you used to get in Athena (z"l).

Down on the sand, it's 6.15pm and I think about my friends in London as I kick off my flip-flops and dive into crystal-clear bath-water temperature seas, tinged a lovely ochre by the setting sun. Then I focus on the native wildlife. Sorry, assorted Wifeys!

After an invigorating swim, I trot off to take a shower. A twentysomething Russian dolly-bird is walking along with the tiniest little baby greyhound, which sprints to the foot-washing taps for a frolic, much to the delight of a blonde toddler, who shrieks with delight as it runs around her.

I head up from the beach, a beatific smile across my face, thinking it has been a proper Lou Reed Perfect Day. Halfway up Shalag I realise I left my keys somewhere on the beach. About-turn, more glowing sunset, more dogs, more cute owners, still a great day.

It truly sinks in why Rav Kook always signed letters from his house in Neve Tzedek as "Tel Aviv, Iyr HaKodesh" - Tel Aviv, holy city.

My love affair is such that I am looking at myself in a whole new way. I walk a little taller, I am prepared to make changes and personal compromises to ensure this relationship works, I can imagine myself becoming a better person with every moment together. I want to gain knowledge and lose weight. I want to gain insight on my self and lose my fear of the 'other'. I want to gain experience and lose inhibitions. I want to be free and yet I can best achieve that by committing to this place.

Someone implied recently that my postings on Israel are not objective; I say to you that this is a place I defend with passion as well as reason, because I love it, and I think it loves me back.

With thanks to Berlinerstrasse for also daring to dream.

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