Thursday, January 26, 2006

Observations on living in Israel

I need something light now, so I decided to write some humorous observations on living in Israel. I will update these and not notify you of the update either.

1. You no longer get phased when you see people carrying sub-machine guns and AK-47s (sometimes casually). What scares you is when there is unattended baggage

2. It doesnt matter if you buy one of those reflective yellow vests that cost 20 shekel; you WILL get run down by an Israeli driver

3. You feel very secure after you go through an airport-style security checkpoint when you enter a market, a restaurant, a swap-meet, a religious area, or anywhere else imaginable. This is until you notice that they are selling sharp knives within said secure area for only 2 shekel.

4. I really miss an endless supply of warm water when I shower. We need to turn on the heating for at least 30 minutes for 2 minutes of hot water in this country.

5. Besides avoiding getting killed when crossing the street, you have the added problem of really complex traffic lights and lack of crosswalks.

6. You also can't jaywalk for some reason in this country. This doens't make sense, as you are just as likely to get hit at a crosswalk as you are at any unmarked part of the street.

7. In fact, I almost got hit a number of times by cars and busses on the SIDEWALK!!!

8. Speaking of which, just claim you are from New York (or "it's my first day") to get out of a jaywalking ticket

9. An acceptable response to anything (especially to something which annoys you) is putting together your thumb, index finger, and middle finger, sometimes accompanied by a tongue-clicking sound. They know what you mean when you do this.

10. Haggle. I did this with a taxi driver.

11. You must bag your own groceries. You also need a passport to get a value card

12. Never go through the Damascus Gate at sundown on a Thursday, especially if you just want to get to the Kotel. You have to deal with the maze of the Arab Quarter.

13. Friday is a Sunday, Thursday is a Friday (but with extended hours instead of shorter), and Saturday is Shabbat in Israel. Don't call anyone before noon on Friday. In fact the country shuts down on Friday and Saturday.

14. Don't go into Mea Shearim wearing pants if you are a girl. Trust me on this one. Unless you like getting stoned, and not in the way you think. It's getting hit by rocks, not taking a hit of rocks (whatever that means).

15. Kosher meat and cheese is cheap and plentiful in this country (but should not be mixed).

16. Further, fruit is cheap and interesting in this country, Israel having "invented" a number of fruits, you can get things here you can get nowhere else.

17. For anything you can get for 60 shekel in a fancy (or not so fancy) restaurant on Emek Refaim, you can get it tasting a lot better in a kiosk a couple blocks to the south for just 12 shekel.

18. A squeegie in every home. You know those things that you use to clean your windshield at the gas station? There's a drain in the floor of every bathroom in which you can mop your floors with a squeegie on a long stick. There was no such hole at Ramah in the Poconos, which is why I got confused why the Israelis were flooding the bathroom.

19. Stray cats EVERYWHERE. They are freakin' scary and make very loud and annoying noises. They are also starving, reproducing like crazy way too quickly, and like to eat garbage. Remind you of anything? I'm a bad person...

20. Jerusalem stone is beautiful but slippery when wet. I almost learned this one the hard way when descending from the Old City down Madrigotei Benny. When I say hard, I'm also talking about the durability of the stone ground.

21. Couch Surfing seems to be the way of the land in this country. Also figured this one out the hard way. I really want an apartment.

22. Charif means spicy. They mean it. Don't be a hero, ask them to go light on the red sauce at the schwarma stand.

23. Do you think that forgetable kings of Judah and Israel such as Jehosophat and Asa would be Amaziahed (ha ha!) at the fact that there are streets named after them? I think the first thing they will ask is "who?", because even they have never heard of themselves.

24. You learn a lot about the history of Israel from the street signs. There is also some sort of structure that makes it very easy to know where you are and where you are close to. The Kings of Judah and Israel are clustered together, as are biblical leaders, as are Visionists and Zionists, and German and British Generals.
More to come.

25. General Pierre Koenig Street... named for a French General who never had anything to do with Israel; probably never came to Israel. In fact, his greatest accomplishment according to wikipedia is having a street named after him in Jerusalem. Worst accomplishment? His first name is Marie.

26. Cut the crap and stop trying to speak Hebrew (or Yiddish...). You're not fooling the Israelis, they know you're American and will be annoyed with you and respond to you impatiently in English.

27. Israeli commercials... they're as crazy as Japanese commericials.

28. I watched an episode of The Daily Show in Israel... on CNN!

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