Travel diary, day 10 of 14
18°C. The sun. A tidy, shimmering metropolis outside our super central, giant 13th-floor bedroom window. The sea in the not-so-distant horizon. Our very own breakfast in a real kitchen. We wake up in a different world – a world we had a peek of at night, of course, but which only fully reveals itself to our astonished eyes now!
All of a sudden it is all mixed together; our previous experiences of Europe/ North America/ Jordan/ Palestine simultaneously make sense and don’t, orient us and disorient us. As we follow our favourite map (congrats once again, Abraham Hostel) placing our consumed shoe soles on kilometres and kilometres of what is known as the white city, Hannah and I start listing what makes our 8th destination together different from all others and much, much closer to our idea of Europe. There’s a lot, and I’ll write them without punctuation in an attempt to recreate the feeling of incredulous serene overwhelmingness (?) we feel showered with:
trendy shops designer clothes half-naked people SO MANY DOGS and even random cats look pretty and healthy and the dogs mostly come in identical twos there are hardly any taxis no traffic but traffic lights and pedestrian crossings WE TOTALLY BLEND IN (= no special attentions!) food portions can be tackled just fine everything is clean and there are recycling bins way more expensive than Palestine fancier and all that super tall skyscrapers no call to prayer to be heard in the air Public Displays of Affection SO MUCH SPORT GOING ON running tennis dancing beach-pong (they call it makbak or something similar? I talked to a guy of Italian heritage) oh sooo much beach-pong it’s actually quite amusing paddle-boarding swimming surfing families on rollerblades boating pedal-boats basically evvverybody is fit! people go around on normal scooters electric scooters normal bikes electric bikes and electric bikes with a fitted stereo motorcycles WET SAND ooooh we missed the sea and this weather is The Best Winter Ever Seen there’s bars with alcohol (not that we care) but seriously THIS WEATHER!!
Bottom line: we understand why people would want to live in Tel Aviv. Despite our rather contrary expectations, no doubt dictated by ideological matters more than by actual knowledge of the place, by 3pm we have thoroughly fallen in love with it and feel guiltily attracted by the dreamy perspective of a future here, in the Middle East that isn’t Middle East, on the Mediterranean coast that somehow is and isn’t Mediterranean. Apologies, Palestine; we’re sorry, Jordan. We still love you both dearly, and of a very different, much less superficial love – but we can’t deny that the brains of Israel (if Jerusalem is what it has chosen as its heart) have a magnet to it that even the strongest minds find it hard to resist to.
Maybe it’s the relaxed atmosphere in the luscious, lively parks and alongside the beach and seaside promenade; maybe that kid rolling down hills of sand or that other kid playing guitar, the dancing show in the street and that übercute elderly lady dressed in purple with her grey pigtails who adorably dances by herself; maybe it’s Hannah’s favourite family of strangers, having a 3-course dessert party at noon, or the mature couple taking sexy selfies. It could be the utter walkability of the place, the incredible variety of the food on offer (and by now you know we are serious foodies), the intriguing mysteries of the Shockingly Common Pair of Boots, of the Side-Coloured Hair or of the Open Microwave Oven Doors that keep us consistently amused. It could even really just be down to the sea and the fabulous weather, after weeks of bone-reaching cold and months in a respectably dry land.
I catch myself thinking that it’s perhaps unfair of us to like Tel Aviv this much, this quickly. But perhaps, also, not – and I feel like the correct answer, if there is one, would not only lie in the middle, but most probably in History and all that it entailed and entails at sociological, political, cultural, economic, even legal level. All of which is, in a way, excruciatingly and yet hilariously summarized in the joke of one beach-pong player: “Look at the Jews, look how they suffer!“. [Haha]
White city, blue sea… Grey areas. My notes on topics to further research once I’m home gets longer and more intricate every day and, like many times before, I can’t but feel a gratitude I fail to fully describe for all my freedoms, and a relief beyond words for winning all possible jackpots in terms of how I look, where I was born, how I was brought up, my identity, my health, my nationality, my rights, my opportunities… This trip that is nor short nor long is reminding me every day in a thousand little ways that the world of humans is complicated and that there are no easy answers; but also that I am lucky and privileged enough to have access to those answers, with some effort, patience, and sensitivity. Learning is my second favourite thing in the whole universe, after all 🙂 I might just as well dedicate myself to it a little more!
Speaking of which, since Tel Aviv comes across as a city of culture and it has already given us several frontal occasions of learning on Israel and its society, here- I shall share tips:
- Docufilm: Family matters by Noa Roth, daughter of famous writer Yuditah (?) Rotem, about her parents’ brutal divorce and her uprooting from extremely Orthodox Judaism – despite which she invites us audience to perform the ceremony of havdelah, or end of Shabbath, with her after her film screening
- Book: Walking Israel- a personal search for the soul of a nation by Martin Fletcher, which Hannah is reading and tells me about, and I want to read ASAP too.
Goodnight, Chaos! Catch you later
Beautiful sunny beachy pics HERE 😀
Food of the day: almond milk with brown cereal; salmon and cream cheese sandwich with salad at the Banana Beach bar; a seriously oversized chocolate croissant; and a 9.30pm delicious breakfast consisting of a peach mimosa cocktail, different kinds of bread, a shakshouka, an eggplant dip, tahini, butter and apple jam. Because right in front of our place there’s a delicious 24h breakfast place and we love breakfast… Don’t judge!! Extra selfie for the occasion 😉