-and other unanswerable questions…
Some people will leave their home country and take residence in a foreign place, being drawn by romantic notions, work, or the need to simply shock the system. No matter where you go, there is the inevitable culture shock. You can move from tiny town USA to Los Angeles, from the mountains to the beach, from a country where you have 50 cereal choices, to a place where the washing machines can hold a washcloth and maybe two socks. There is a whole new vibe to adopt and being in Tel Aviv, for a while, a new schedule. The weekends are Friday and Saturday and Sunday is equal to Monday, and there is a holiday every five minutes The most difficult adjustment is understanding that the short and exasperated answers to your questions do not mean that the people you encounter find you as simple-minded as a common earthworm. That is just the way things are. But beyond the psychological implications, the way of life in this and European countries, for me, begs so many questions.
The States, the adolescent child of the world, has many major advancements, but at the same time, are surprisingly primitive in the way the way we as a people get around, connect to science, connect to each other. I am left with so many questions that do not necessarily suggest that where I am is better, these questions only ask, why did some things not make it across the ocean? McDonald’s had no trouble getting overseas, therefore, why will it be so hard for me to find those peanut cheesy poof things? On one hand, I am happy for the exclusivity, it makes trips so much more exciting. What is more at question, for me, are the following, more grand puzzlements:
Traveling by Train:
This should be something that is a greater part of our lives, don’t you think? The industrial revolution basically began with the steam engine and railroads were all the hype in the early part of the 20th century. So why do we have so few options with regard to getting around from town to town. There is Amtrak, but I am talking about more local options. LIke getting from Atlanta to Savannah or Valdosta quickly and easily by train. Maybe it exists, and I am just not privy to that information. Regardless, it sure would be nice. Plus, trains are so elegant, and rarely produce motion sickness.
Dual Flush Toilets:
I am just now starting to see these pop up, but Europe had had them for AGES. These are the toilets with two flush options. One for a, hmmm, light, delicate deposit that will include a minimal amount of non-liquid waste. Then there is the grand-daddy flush. Strong enough to eliminate the waste of your average elephant. What a great water conservation thing. I only request that we never abide by the Greek toilet ritual which is, not flushing the paper. There is a separate can for that. And yes, it is as gross as you imagine.
While on the subject:
A more glorious piece of porcelain has never been invented, nor will ever be invented again. Who would NOT want that fresh out of the shower feeling all day, every day? Even the most primitive models, which are employed in Iran, are such a great way to feel extra special and clean. In Iran, the bidet is basically a used bleach bottle, that has been cleaned and is kept full of tap water right next to the toilet. No elaborate plumbing necessary, but you do have to be OK with water that is a bit chilly.
Honestly I don’t get why people are so grossed out by bidets – I think that NOT having one is kinda gross. In Las Vegas, my friend Yumiko, a top saleswoman at Hermes, also started selling the “Washlette,” a portable bidet system that fits on top of the toilet seat. She said it would revolutionize America. It would keep us all healthy. These were her reasons for moonlighting in the toilet industry. There has been no Washlette revolution and I am sure Yumiko was more concerned about her 30% commission on each $950 Washlette than she was about by butt health.
High Fructose Corn Syrup:
You really cannot find it anywhere else in the world. This is why Coke and Peach Iced Tea taste so much better here and in Europe, and I am sure that is why the bread is irresistible. The candy is less sugary yet still satisfying and kid cereal is easier to eat without the guilt. I am sure we have HFC to help plentify our food, but there are also a lot of people here to feed, so what gives? I had never considered this as an issue until my lovely wife to be made me aware of the ubiquity of this sugar, now I am certain that my need for liposuction is based on this devil of an additive and I am wondering to whom I may send the bill for the procedure.
It is really remarkable to see such a vibrant city go to sleep. I love how it honors the past with an homage that is stirring, and it also reminds those who aren’t Jewish, that everyone needs time to rest. Watching Tel Aviv enter its slumber on Friday evening and watching it re-awaken Saturday evening has been beautiful The peace and quiet are so rare in this world and rarer still in a place that is often victimized by war and tension. For 24 hours, there is calm.
…in this case, the Sabbath dinner. What a wonderful tradition. Whether you want to include the prayers and singing can be up to you, but how nice to meet, drink, eat and talk and know that you can do this every week with your family and friends. I am certain many have their own form of this type of gathering, and I decided I want one, too. So I am letting people know that I will eb available to receive invitations starting next week. I was able to go to a sabbath dinner last Friday. The hosts were so gracious, generous, kind, and very animated. They were also VERY kosher in what they served, how they served it, and when.
Being kosher developed out of health concerns regarding food and digestion. These people put every ounce of faith in this method of eating, in fact the meat fork could not be anywhere near the vegetable fork. I enjoyed hearing about all of these health precautions after dinner, when everyone sat around smoking and getting high.
If you take a seat in any restaurant or cafe, you should expect to get a really good arm/shoulder workout because of all the times you need to flag down a server who just assumes you intend to nurse your cappuccino for about 3 and a half hours. Don’t expect a menu or the bill to be delivered quickly – and honestly, that is really nice. You are encouraged to eat slowly, talk a lot, and linger. What this extra time does for me is encourage me to buy more stuff. “A red cabbage slaw to accompany my beer? Why, that sounds delightful! Yes, I’m sure the vinegar is a lovely companion to the bold hoppy flavor of the beer.”
I do have to reiterate that the love of dance is so strong here. The fervor, the excitement, and the appeal is so striking, that I wish we could find this same enthusiasm in our country, especially with regard to funding, audiences, and notoriety. There seems to be a NEED that people have to see dance, a sense of duty to attend shows and a wonderful energy and willingness to talk about the performances afterwards. ( Early in my trip I sat next to a woman at a show who announced how guilty she felt because she hadn’t been to a dance performance in five weeks.) The culture of seeing and taking in culture is refreshing, and although anyone who is reading this blog is in the choir I preach to, it sure would be nice to have audiences eagerly attend dance performances without having to promise them free beer and a cheese plate after a show.
Right now I am staying at Boaz’s place for my last two nights. The apartment owners returned from China, forcing me to relocate. Being in transition is always tough for me. The anticipation of re-entering my life is overwhelming: the struggling with the suitcase, packing, getting caught up, mail, sleep, all those things that prove to be such nuisances that all you can do is live for the normal-ness that will ensue afterwards. I am not taking it easy here, however. My last two days will be full of dance performances, a release class, a trip to the dead sea with Hila, and enough hummus to put any bidet to good use.
too much information?