London or TLV?

Last Wednesday, the day before we were due to return to Tel Aviv, I decided to check the weather forecast to see what clothes we would need to have handy exiting the terminal building at Ben-Gurion Airport, so I decided to check the BBC Weather app on my phone. As the app opens automatically at the “current location”, I needed to choose Tel Aviv manually.  Imagine my surprise when I saw what I saw!  I knew that the weather in London had changed and that it had begun to feel not just springlike but even a little summery.  By Thursday noon when the cab turned up to take us to Heathrow,  it was hot and it turned out that we were leaving London on the warmest April day for 70 years. Given that we had arrived a fortnight earlier expecting winter, it was quite a turnaround.  Quite! Quite!

It may very well have been summery outside but you might niot have believed it once you got on the plane.  A fortnight previously, we travelled over during the intermediate days of the dreaded Pesach and as we waited patiently for the long line of passengers to disembark before us, I was hard put to observe even a single kippa (skullcap) among the passengers—an extremely unusual phenomenon to observe on an El Al flight—this time around, they were there with a vengeance.  Family after family, replete with babes in arms and screaming kids, hatboxes for shtreimels, a type of fur hat that many Hasidic Jewish men wear on Shabbat, and festive days. (They are usually made of genuine fur from the tails of Canadian or Russian sable, marten, or American gray fox and can cost from $1,000 to $6,000 although you can buy an ersatz shtrimel on Amazon, complete with sidelocks, for $6.99!)

Hat Box

Just as we were settling into our seats, I observed (yes, I’m nosey) the passenger sitting in the window seat almost directly opposite us.  Even though the case above him said “crew”, I don’t think he was.  Now, it was 27ºC outside and as he reached his seat, he pulled off what I can only describe as a winter woollen overcoat only to expose yet another coat underneath, albeit of silk or ersatz silk which he wore throughout the flight.  

Yoyo

Now, I’ve heard of Yo-Yo Ma, the cellist, but this yo-yo was the real thing, up and down, up and down throughout the four and half hours until his strength gave out and he succumbed to a sound slumber.  Having completed my plane photography, I then settled down to watch Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, a film that was so violent, so American, so Trumpish that I managed two hours of uninterrupted viewing.

Worn out

Whereas the first week in the UK was a reminder of the very cold, very damp winter they’ve endured this year, where everything seemed to be dark grey or  a sort of grey green covered in mist or fog …

City, St. Paul's & Shard

St. Pauls & the Shard from Primrose Hill. April 2018

… by the second week, spring was demonstrating clearly to itself and the population at large that it had well and truly started.  There’s something so refreshing to see newly-born leaves appear where just buds had been a couple of days before.

Spring sprang

Spring

Even the amputrees along the street looked as if they were prepared for better weather than they had endured over the previous several months.

Amputrees

Amputrees.  Parkhill Road, London NW3.  April 2018

Trips into town on the Underground yielded the usual motley collection of commuters, some staring, some staring at their smartphones, some listening to music or to political speeches (who knows?), others asleep and yet others, perhaps unfamiliar with the city, trying to count how many stations left until it’s time to alight.

In the Tube

A visit to the City of London yielded this image of office workers at Broadgate out for a coffee or a smoke … 

 

Broadgate

… while the walk back to Moorgate Tube Station yielded this stunnng image of a construction worker somewhat more flamboyantly dressed than a run-of-the-mill construction worker.

Orange Sikh

On another occasion, walking from St. Pancras Station to King’s Cross on the way home, I was fascinated by the constantly moving bands of colour in the tunnel connecting the two.  It only goes to show what a little imagination can do as this would just as easily have been yet another subterranean tiled walkway.

King's X St. Pancras

As has become usual on a trip to London, I spend a day with a friend who also takes photographs [good ones!].  We usually select a particular place, spend a lot of the time chatting and take some photos. This time around, we decided to go to a photography exhibition at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, the subject of which was “The Great British Seaside”.  We also agreed to meet at Westminster Pier and take the river boat down to Greenwich and I suppose we could have chosen a better day (we also could have chosen a worse one—it might have poured or snowed) in that the cloud cover was low (understatement) and the colours varied from light grey to dark.  In other words, we didn’t as much as take the cmaeras out of our bags this time but as a pair of 73-year olds dwelt on the current state of the world and how lucky we were to have lived through half a century in which th world seemed good.  The exhibition itself, when we got there was interesting, although I must say that it evoked memories of being taken to the seaside at Malahide or Portmarnock when I was young, something I intensely disliked as the sea was always cold and then there was the sand.  My abiding memory is of being rubbed down with a sandy towel while the wind blew and I shivered.  Yuck!

I know I just wrote that we didn’t take the cameras out during our ride down the Thames but while waiting for Roger at Westminster, I did take a couple of pics of interest.  It was cold and breezy and it was misty, too but this gentleman added a little colour to the scene in more ways than one though I’m sure it was cold and draughty from the knees up.

Pipes

It was also a bit strange to see Big Ben under wraps as it’s such a part of the London scene.  It was also, I think, the most extensive example of scaffolding that I’ve ever seen although I might be wrong on that count.

Big Ben wrapped

One of the joys of being in London is the opportunity to catch up with the grandchildren beyond the realms of Skype or FaceTime or WhatsApp.  The day before we departed they decided that my hair or what’s left of it needed styling (it needed trimming but Jimmy, my Greek barber in Belsize Park around the corner from us, was closed last week).  So there I sat, helpless on the sofa while they styled me according as their wills and their imaginations dictated.  One of them was keen on producing a flattened head designed to create a feeling of elegance and smartness (some hope) while the other went for a back-combed (or more correctly a back-tugged) approach reminiscent of a rooster’s comb.

At any rate, I decided that I needed to visit the hairdresser as soon as we got back to T-A and sure enough, on Friday morning, in a semi-zombie state, I was shorn.  However, if I thought that that was that, I couldn’t have been wronger because that evening, our Israeli granddaughters also decided that I need to have my hair styled!  I was sure that there wasn’t enough left to do anything with but was mistaken yet again as they managed to retrieve enough to affix a clip to.

Gali & Lily Style

 

Now, one of the regular readers of this blog from faraway Australia told me in all seriousness last week when we met in London that the bits of the blog he most likes is when I give vent to some of my frustrations and rant on, to which I responded that the juiciest parts of the rants never actually make it into the blog as they have been effaced, expunged and excised before they even get there, which is absolutely unfortunate in my opinion but at the same time contributes to peace in the household, and I suppose that that’s the most important thing.

In this regard, just before we returned to Tel Aviv, I read a short book by Timothy Snyder whose book Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning I wrote about in this blog three months ago. Snyder is a Harvard historian whose expertise is the history of Central and Eastern Europe.  That book dealt primarily with the atrocities that took place in Eastern Europe between the period of the signing of the non-aggression pact between Nazi Germany and the USSR in 1939 and when Nazi Germany invaded the USSR in 1941.  The main contention of that book was that in those two years there was a demolition of state structures and the breakdown of all legal status, which aided the executioners and their collaborators.  What happened then was that life itself was no longer guaranteed by any kind of legal and bureaucratic structure and slaughter could take place. 

In On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century, a book just 126 pages long, Snyder sets out 20 instructions to avoid the reappearance of totalitarian rule in the 21st century and it makes for extremely interesting reading.  However, what made it chilling reading—and it took me until I was about halfway through—was that he was drawing parallels between the rise of totalitarian dictatorships in 20th century Europe and the rise of “populist” governments in this decade.  In fact, it is a denunciation of Trumpism and Putinism and a call to be acutely aware of the chaos that Vladimir Putin and his lackeys in Russia are causing in the rest of the world.

Snyder

In his most recent work, The Road to Unfreedom: Russia, Europe, America, Snyder writes:Before the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, communism had its own politics of inevitability: nature permits technology; technology brings social change; social change causes revolution; revolution enacts utopia. When this turned out not to be true, the European and American politicians of inevitability were triumphant. Europeans busied themselves completing the creation of the European Union in 1992. Americans reasoned that the failure of the communist story confirmed the truth of the capitalist one. Americans and Europeans kept telling themselves their tales of inevitability for a quarter century after the end of communism, and so raised a millennial generation without history.  And that is truly frightening!

And in this regard … I’m always fascinated as to how the news differ from country to country.  In the UK this time, there were two of the big stories.  One concerned the attempted repatriation of what have become to be known now as the “Windrush Generation”, people who arrived in Britain over 60 years ago and have never lived in their countries of origin since childhood, people who have lived all their lives in the UK but don’t have paperwork to prove it their legal entry.  It was, how shall I say it, embarrassing to watch Mrs. May apologise for this to leaders of the British Commonwealth meeting in London last week, especially as she had been Home Scretary (Minister of the Interior) for seven years prior to her elevation.  And if that wasn’t enough, the other item appertained to whether or not there is anti-Semitism in the Labour party and whether Jeremy Corbyn, its undisputed leader, is even aware of it and if he is what he’s doing about it.  Luciana Berger, Labour MP for Wavertree, Liverpool made an impassioned Commons speech about it and about the personal threats she has received as a result of her political views.  If another young female Labour MP, Jo Cox, had not been gunned down two years ago in her constituency office for little more than supporting Britain’s remaining in the EU, I might have thought that Ms. Berger was exaggerating slightly, but no.  And award-winning author Howard Jacobson had some enlightening things to say about the inflexibility of Mr. Corbyn’s views, which, as far as I’m concerned questions his suitability to be Prime Minister.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Mdo74o7Sp4

And in Israel, there are several big stories.  As usual, one concerns Iran.  Another concerned the illegality of shipping out tens of thousands of asylum seekers, mostly African, after it turns out that Israel has no agreement with any African country to a accept them.  The third big story was the successful attempt by the Prime Minister to usurp the torch-lighting ceremony on the eve of Independence Day from the hands of the Speaker of the Knesset, whose big day this has been for past seven decades.  Aided by his principal sidekick, the Anti-Minister of Culture, Ms. Regev, it was agreed to allow the Speaker seven minutes to orate to Bibi’s five and both sides signed up.  In the event, the latter went hogged the limelight for a quarter of an hour.  No wonder Natalie Portman decided not to come to Israel to accept her award from the Genesis Foundation because she finds the man anathema.  No doubt Ms. Regev is upset mostly because it deprives her of another opportunity to denigrate unpatriotic leftists! 

 

Whatever!

 

And  oh yes, what about the symptoms of the pareidolia from which I seem to suffer?  Well, London provided several juicy examples. 

There was an open lavatory seat staring at me, actually guffawing although I’m not quite sure why.

Glaring loo seat

Then there was the living room lamp that blared at me with a smile when I went to check if the bulb needed replacing (excuse the dust but it’s an uplighter and hadn’t been examined for quite a while).

What's to smile about?

But the top prize goes to the cigarette and gum bin owned by the City of London, glaring at me, trying to scare me.  Wow! It really stood out from the crowd.

Cigs & Gum

And it didn’t finish there because on my first morning out in Tel Aviv, I came across this pair of clowns looking at me as if I was doing something odd.

Hydrant 1Hydrant

Finally, as I started with weather, I’ll finish with weather.  I thought spring had reached Tel Aviv but winter’s not quite over yet, it seems.  It’s mild outside but it looks as if we’re in for a couple of wet days and it’s the end of April.  It’s always easy to spot the yoreh (Hebrew has words fore the first and last rains of the season) because it comes after about five rainless months.  The malqosh is less easy to spot and can only only be seen retrospectively; maybe this is it, maybe not — and as I write at 10.00 am on Wednesday morning, the sun is shining brightly after enough spots of rain fell to make me think that the car might need cleaning again.

Screen Shot 2018-04-25 at 7.42.49.png

And a thought for the day—although my dietician would never approve.

Balanced diet

South End Green, London NW3

 

Standard

Pareidolia or Paranoia

Well, as far as I’m concerned, the news of the week is that we made it to London for a fortnight.  Although I thought we might have to cancel, the trip was pretty straightforward.  Actually, it’s amazing how the journey between TLV and LHR differs from trip to trip.  It’s the same physical distance each time and around five hours is always around five hours.  Except that sometimes five hours seems like a day whereas on other occasions, you reckon you’ve just taken off and there you are, you’ve landed.  This time, it was one of those occasions on which it seemed like eternity.

We came dressed for winter — or at least our winter coats were readily accessible should we have needed them but once again, the British weather fooled us.  It was mild and by evening, a large yellow ball had appeared in the sky, signifying sunshine and we duped ourselves into thinking that it was spring.  

We were in place about 90 minutes before the supermarket order arrived on the dot of 6 p.m. and it was as if we had never left seven months earlier.  Zombied by the foreverness of the travel, we had an early night and woke up at 4 a.m. on Thursday morning and saw the sun when it poked its head above the horizon.  Then, miracle of miracles, the car started with one turn of the ignition key after 4 months of inactivity and a cold, cold winter and we were off for the first of our planned family visits.  By the afternoon, the sun working overtime, we trundled down in our jalopy to The Regent’s Park, which remains a world unto itself in the middle of a bustling metropolis.  There, the scurrying squirrels were, as usual and at first, a source of attraction to the many tourists who had ventured into this wonderful urban amenity but within very short periods of time, had become nuisances as they began to pull at trouser legs and skirts, searching for nuts, I presume.  Why people feel attracted to these rats with furry tails is beyond me; I suppose it’s the same sort of attraction that people have towards pigeons and ducks.

Scurrying squirrels

Mind you, the herons were attractive.

Waterbirds

Heron, with pigeon attendant.  Regents Park, London

While in the park, we chatted with a couple even more elderly than us, who were curious about the origin of the mobility scooter we take with us when we can.  They were even more curious when we told them it was bought in Israel to an Israeli design but manufactured in China.  She, aged 91, was in a wheelchair, which he was pushing so I suppose the thought of being able to move about semi-independently must have flashed through their minds.  They told us that they divide their time between London and Miami, spending winters in America and that this was the first year in many that they had decided to winter in the UK.  Not the greatest of decisions on their part given the weather that they’ve had here.  (I know that Brits are likely to talk about the weather but I can’t recollect so many people complaining persistently (kvetching) about the cold as I have in the week we’ve been here.)

Miami to London

At Regents Park, London

Just before we stopped to chat with this friendly couple, an Orthodox Jewish family passed by going in the opposite direction to us so I gave them festive greetings (in Hebrew) as it was still the dreaded Pesach.  They smiled and returned the greeting.   And then, a few minutes later, as we were chatting, one of the group approached me and said that he saw I was aware that it was Pesach.  So he inquired whether or not I eat matzah at Pesach time.  I felt my abdomen and it confirmed that I do indeed participate in this annual celebration of purgatory and then I was asked whether I had eaten matzah this Pesach.  Of course I had, I replied, whereupon he produced a polythene sandwich bag which he dangled in front of me.  I asked him if what he was holding in front of me was matzah shemurah, matzah supervised so that there is not the slightest possibility of any contact with leavened or leavening material and he answered in the affirmative.  I politely declined his offer, which had been made, literally, in good faith, fearing the consequences for my teeth should I have accepted and bitten into it, and we bid one another farewell.  Not the sort of thing that one usually comes across in Regent’s Park! 

Then on Friday morning (waking up just before 6 in time to hear the news) I knew for sure that I was in England, if I had had any doubts before that.  The lead item on the news was neither a litany of stabbings and shootings in London (that came later) nor how many martyrs could be expected when armed Israeli soldiers shoot innocent Palestinians marching along the border fence with the Gaza Strip (the Syrian army chemical attack on unarmed civilians would not occur until the following day) but the news that Eric Bristow, a.k.a. the “crafty Cockney”, a darts player who who helped transform darts from a pub game to one played out in sold-out arenas with the glitzy razzamatazz of the modern sport, had died aged 60 after collapsing in Liverpool at the latest round of the Professional Darts Corporation’s Premier League.  Such is England.  This was news but a lead story?  Really?  I am beginning to think that perhaps there is a wide gap between the UK and Europe that transcends the Channel and that perhaps Brexit is, indeed, justified.

I had some correspondence last week with a former colleague from the University whose area of expertise is face recognition.  In the course of this correspondence, he informed me that I suffer from a syndrome called Pareidolia.  I know that I am ageing, have slightly high blood pressure and blood sugar levels, that my sight and hearing are not quite what they used to be and that I do not have Alzheimer’s or dementia, so this was alarming.  And has we really hadn’t had much contact for the past two decades, I wondered if he had access to my medical files and to things in them that were being kept secret from me?  So straight to Google to find out something about what it is that I have.

Pareidolia, I discovered, is a type of apophenia and is derived from the Greek words para, meaning something faulty, wrong, instead of, and the noun eidōlon, meaning image, form or shape.  But what is apophenia?  This, it turns out, is the tendency to perceive connections and meaning between unrelated things and was coined by a psychiatrist, Klaus Conrad, in his 1958 publication on the beginning stages of schizophrenia.  Oy vey!  I’m another person, then?!  

Turns out in the end that pareidolia is a more generalized term for seeing patterns in random data.  And then I remembered, I had mentioned to my psychologist former colleague that I am “into” fire hydrants and that I have a tendency to see faces in them wherever I go and I’ve provided several examples of such in this blog.  However, the day before yesterday, having received a package from Amazon which I had left at the door of the flat to take to the recycling bin, as I walked down the corridor, I noticed that Jeff Bezos was smiling at me, so I whipped out the camera to record the grin — as I did this morning when using the loo at a Marks and Spencer store.

Amazon smiles

 

Laughing loo

Aaaghhhh!!!

As is my custom, I walked around to Primrose Hill because it’s only when I climb up to the summit and look down upon the London skyline that I feel that I’m here.  (I also feel I’m in London when I observe the blank stares on the faces of people in the Tube!)  The park was looking duller and muddier than I’ve ever seen it, presumably the result of the cold winter that’s been experienced here and the relatively late onset of Spring.  The trees still have a wintry look about them but by next week, they will begin their leafy journey to summer and beyond.

Leaf birth.jpg

Winter on Primrose

Winter on Primrose 1

In the Tube

The Tube ride

Having just said that things looked dull in the parks, I have to add a rider in that all over the place, daffodils and narcissi, not to mention magnolia trees are in bloom and a magnificent sight to see these yellow clumps and pink to purple flowers everywhere, even though sometimes, they disturb the remains of autumn and winter!

Magnolia

Parkhill Road, NW3.  April 2018

Daffodils

Daffs & narcissi

Narcissi

Spring & Winter

On my way around to Primrose Hill, I noticed that the lessons of last summer’s disaster at the Grenfell Tower block in West London have not only been learned but are being corrected.  The cause of the rapid speed of the blaze from the fourth floor of tower in which over 70 people died and hundreds made homeless was due to the flammability of the material used in the cladding of the outer walls.

  Grenfell (2)

 

The four tower blocks on Adelaide Road NW3, were clad with the same material and this has now been stripped off.  Whether the outer material as it stands at present is the finished product or whether something else has to go on top, I have no idea but I suppose we will find out in the not-too-far-distant future.

Adelaide Road, July 2017

July 2017

Recladding

April 2018

And finally, a headless picture from Tel Aviv Port last week which appeared after my last piece had already been posted.  I was looking north at the power station chimney when, looking up to continue my walk into the port, I espied this apparently headless couple walking in front of me.  Pareidolia or paranoia?

Headless.jpg

Standard

It’s that time of the year again

DSCF5427 Aaaargh!.jpg

Unleavened bread — so soon again?????

This weekend, people around the world are celebrating either Pesach (Passover for the uninitiated) or Easter, which means that it is a paschal weekend,  Given that paschal is the adjective for describing things related to Easter, it’s easy to see the historical and etymological connection between paschal and Pesach.

It’s not one of my favourite Jewish holidays mainly because of the biblical injunction, in Leviticus 23:6 (amongst other places): “And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread unto the Lord: seven days ye must eat unleavened bread.”.  Well, really!  This is cruel and unusual punishment and in many enlightened countries such a penalty would be expressly forbidden in the legal code.  A hard God, a difficult God.  Does he really love his “chosen people”, a stiff-necked people or is he simply giving expression to the vendetta against us and our digestive systems and about which we receive an annual reminder?

Pesach commemorates the exodus (of the Children of Israel from bondage in Egypt).  It’s celebrated, if such is the correct term, for 7 days (8 days if you’re unlucky enough to live as a Jew outside the Israeli paradise).  We no longer sacrifice a paschal lamb (although some do try and a few even succeed) but we do sacrifice ourselves and our digestive systems to the vagaries of unleavened bread, otherwise known as “matzah” or “matzo” or as it is referred to at the seder table on the first night of the festival, “bread of affliction”.

In Exodus (12:8), we are exhorted to eat meat, with matzah and maror (bitter herbs) and later, we are told to eat this bread of affliction for a week  “for you came out of the land of Egypt in haste. Thus you will remember the day you left the land of Egypt as long as you live.”  How could you not?

It is also decreed that not only must we eat matzot (plural, meaning you can’t get away with biting off the corner of one board) but we must not touch, let alone consume, anything that has to do with leavening (chametz) — so not only bread, but no beer, no whisk[e]y, no porridge, no pizza or no pasta. For those of you who have not experienced this substance, it’s looks like and tastes like cardboard but you’re nevertheless required to consume it!  It’s hard to start off with but melts in your mouth once you get it out from between your teeth and unstick it from your palate.  What happens to it further down the digestive system is God’s revenge on the Jewish people for disregarding most of His/Her other decrees.  It usually comes in square boards (occasionally circular disks) with perforations, supposedly to aid in breaking it into more manageable bite-sized portions.  This, however, rarely works, leaving jagged sharp edges that are even more hazardous to a human’s survival than the action of the stuff itself on your innards.  

Bread of Affliction 2

There are invisible fault-lines and submatzotic fissures and these, more often than not assume a lethal priority over the official puncture marks so that when you have spread something tasty on the board to give it some flavour (because it really does taste like cardboard) and apply pressure along a perforated line to break off an easy-to-hold, easy-to-eat piece, more than likely you will end up with a small piece in one hand and a larger piece that lands on the table or the floor, invariably the wrong side up.  What really amazes me is that in this hi-tech jungle called Israel, nobody has managed to invent a means of perforating these pieces of edible cardboard in two directions simultaneously or of producing a dedicated robotic matzah cutter that allows one to cleave or sever a piece cleanly so that you don’t cut your finger transferring it from plate (or kitchen paper because it tends to break when pressure is applied to it on a plate) to mouth.

In the video clip below, the gentleman, Mel Brooks of The Producers and Blazing Saddles fame among other cultural gems, has something to say about matzah. This happens 70 seconds into the clip but you really need to listen to the what comes before to appreciate fully what he’s saying.  (I must warn those of you who are less than familiar with the work of Mr. Brooks that you may find what he has to say offensive.  Much of what he says and does is offensive.  In his defence, he would claim that all that he is doing is just reflecting human behaviour and, of course, that’s what makes him so funny. I would say that part of his offensiveness is that he offends everyone and omits no-one and therefore nobody can take umbrage from the fact that they might have been forgotten.  In this particular case, he’s just laughing at himself and his own kind.) However, in this era of political correctness, strictures against ethnic stereotyping and charges of anti-Semitism, if, as they used to say on the television when they announced the outcomes of soccer matches, you don’t want to know the results—or very simply if you don’t like Mel Brooks—look away now.

 

All of these Pesach urgings, of course, have given rise (no pun intended) to a whole industry of regulation, regulators and certification programmes that offer protection against this proscribed and ungodly process of dietary dilation.  But things aren’t all that simple.  Ashkenazi Jews also forbid the consumption of other grains and pulses, just “to be on the safe side”.  Sephardim and other Jews of Middle Eastern and North African provenance permit rice and pulses and are generally more munificent about how our stomachs and intestines should be afflicted.  Of course, all of this can lead to absurdities, especially in Israel, where the same package can have two labels, one permitting followers of this or that rabbi to happily eat without worry of offending the deity whereas the other promises you hellfire and brimstone if you as much as touch the stuff.  However, you can always repent six months down the line on the Day of Atonement.  

There is another version of matzah that is eaten by the Strictly Orthodox, called matzah shemurah,  literally, matzah that has been supervised by kosher pixies following the grains and specks from field to oral orifice so that there is not the slightest possibility that they have come in contact with any leavened or leavening material or any vessel that may have been in contact with any such like.  Having consumed this stuff on several occasions, in my jaundiced opinion, the matzah shemurah industry is sponsored by the World Dental Federation in order to drum up business, just as consuming regular matzah is strongly encouraged by the International Society of Internal Medicine.

DSCF0028

By the third day of affliction

In addition to railing about the self-inflicted injurious hazards of consuming unleavened cardbread, the past week has provided a crop of images that have nothing to do with Pesach-Passover.

Walking around the streets of Tel Aviv now and then I come across homeless people sleeping rough or wheeling what appears to be their worldly belongings on an old supermarket trolley.  I would guess that most of these are down-and-outs although I have to admit to occasionally being surprised.  One individual whom I have seen on many occasions asleep on a bridge over the river was counting a considerable amount of cash that he had withdrawn from an ATM in central Tel Aviv. 

Not far away from that point, on Rabin Square, I spotted what looked like a homeless person’s belongings.  There was the supermarket trolley adorned with various bags and baskets, what looked like a sheet, an umbrella, a pair of shoes, and a sleeping bag on one of the recliners supplied by the Municipality for people to lie out on during the day and get sunburned/tanned.

DSCF0023

It was only when I walked around to the other side and had a closer look that I saw that the recliner was actually occupied and that the occupant wasn’t all that young either.

DSCF0024

A few days later, en route to buy coffee in the Carmel Market, I came across this.  Whether or not he was homeless, I can’t really tell—but it didn’t look as if he had anywhere else to sleep.  There’s something dreadfully wrong when you see what appears to be a young and healthy person sprawled out on the pavement in what seems to be a deep state of stupefaction.

DSCF0034DSCF0035

And it doesn’t just happen in Tel Aviv, either!

Oxford ~Street July 2017

Oxford Street, London.  2 p.m., June 3 2017

 

The light in the park the other morning with the low sun and clouds I the sky was a gorgeous golden yellow, which yielded this image of a eucalyptus tree that I have photographed (with and without its pair of parakeets who live inside it) many times …

DSCF0069

… and a little later, on the same walk, I came across this sign that I thought personified the patience and tolerance of the average Tel Avivian household.

DSCF0073

No dropping off or collection of passengers for any type of vehicle

 

Last Monday took me on one of my increasingly rare excursions to the University of Haifa, which institution I have had an association with for over 45 years (I really can’t accept that piece of information but it is, fortunately or unfortunately, the truth.  The ostensible reason for the trip was to attend the opening of a small but interesting exhibition of photographs, posters and documents detailing the route taken by thousands of Jewish migrants to Palestine eight and nine decades ago from Trieste to Jaffa and Haifa.  As opening ceremonies go, this was in good taste and the three speeches were short and to the point and delivered with a dose of good humour.

Looking around me, I was somewhat taken aback by the noticeboards advertising the wares of many departments the likes of which I had never come across before and seemed on the surface, to me at least, less academic and more training for some practical profession.  I suppose it’s called progress and changing to the demands of the times.  Whatever.  However, I was fascinated when at the modest reception after the speeches were over when I noted that the university now has its own stock of custom made paper cups, something that did not exist in my time.  That, too, I suppose, is progress.

IMG_2957

 

Walking south down Ibn Gvirol Street one morning, I was amused by the pseudo-Elizabethan ruff that was being worn by one of the hydrants.  It looked as if Sir Walter Raleigh, well known for popularising tobacco in England, had been working overtime and that he had reached the streets of Tel Aviv as well.

DSCF0017

And this young lad, like me 60 years ago, had evidently tried one of these cigarette things and was decidedly off-colour as a result.

DSCF0046

Finally, I couldn’t quite figure out what these pigeons were doing.  At first glance, I thought that perhaps they were at prayer but then I thought that somebody must have got rid of their last vestiges of leavened bread and the pigeons, Passover restrictions or not, were enjoying their Last Supper.

DSCF0084

ADDENDUM

DSCF0130

4th day: Facial injuries due to flying by matzah shards—back to bread.  Nordau Blvd., T-A

Standard