On camels, flies and cellphones

It’s difficult to avoid any mention of politics this week given the sequence of events that have taken place but I shall try (and probably not succeed).

Earlier this week, I decided to combine my morning walk with the need to stock up on caffeine so rather than walk through Yarqon Park I set off to walk the streets in the direction of the store in the Carmel Market that sells good coffee beans roasted by the outfit from which I used to buy my coffee when we lived in Haifa.

I wasn’t expecting to find any spectacular photographs though I thought that I might spot something interesting on the way and as usual I had the camera with me.  I was walking south along Shlomo Hamelech (King Solomon) Street, heading for King George V (figuratively, of course), when I had just crossed Frishman Street.  I wasn’t thinking about much when suddenly I stopped and took a few paces backwards towards the  building on the corner because I had just passed what I thought was a camel in a garden surrounding an apartment building.  A camel in Central Tel Aviv? It’s possible, I guess, but extremely unlikely.  However, when I reached the point at which I thought I’d observed it, there it was, looking almost as much like a camel as any real-life camel I’d ever seen.

The camel 1

Camel

Hump off, Europe, I'm voting

Camels vote, too, so hump off! I’m blinkered so I’m voting Brexit!

Then, looking for these two images of camels reminded me that I really ought to spend some time putting [some of] my pictures in order.  I hate doing things like that because they really are so mind-numbing and anyway it’s always easier to find something more creative to do, like capturing or editing some more images to add to the dishevelment that is my photo catalog and my workspace. I’m pretty disorganised in general though I can only suppose that if I were photographing in order to make a living and not just for the fun of it, I might do what I really should do each time I upload the photos to the computer.

At any rate, it gave me an opportunity to look at several images from the past decade or so and sort them into broad categories.  Next week’s work is to refine the categories and then start thinning them out.  I mean, I really don’t need 1,000 pictures of flowers or 200 of crows and pigeons, not to mention 300 of dogs and cats.  Come to think of it, I probably don’t need to be surrounded by a thousand books either as I thin my photo collection but that’s the way things are!

Messy desk

So in contrast to last week’s fulmination about politicians, this week is photos, some of them not so recent and some of which may have appeared before in earlier posts.

On Wednesday, I took a bus part of the way to King George Street and walked past Dizengoff Centre through to the  far end of the Carmel Market.  Dizengoff Centre is a large urban shopping centre on several levels straddling both sides of Dizengoff Street with what seems like umpteen entrances; inside, there are ramps, stairways, escalators and elevators all apparently leading to a point in the building that you had not been aiming for when you stood on the escalator, descended the stairs, entered the elevator, &c.  It’s an impossible place to navigate and being as kind as I can possibly be to the architects who designed it, I would have had them sent to an architects’ gulag years ago.  From responses I’ve heard from people who work there, it’s the sort of place in which people can find their way to and from the shops or offices in which they work and they probably also know the way to the nearest toilet or coffee shop.  However, they are all incapable of giving directions to anywhere else in the centre, even in some cases how to find a specific exit.

Anyway, approaching the centre, I came across the following scene.  A man was stretched out on the pavement, close to the entrance to the underground car park.  Homelessness is something we have come to take for granted and it’s not difficult to find people (almost all male) asleep in parks, on benches, in doorways and elsewhere or attempting to clean themselves up in a public toilet.  More often than not, in most places they seek some sort of quasi-privacy—a doorway, a park bench that’s partially hidden or some such location.  However, not this guy.

I admit that my conscience is pricked each time I line up the camera to record another image of such a hapless individual and I’m criticised sometimes for not striking up a conversation with them before, while and after photographing them—but that’s never been one of my strong points.  However, as they are an integral part of the modern urban landscape, I have little alternative than to record the image.

Amidst the traffic

This one, however, was a little bit out of the ordinary in that I was out later than usual—it was already almost 9 a.m.  As far as I could see, he was sleeping soundly under his sleeping bag, foam mattress underneath, water bottles by his side—amazing really, given the urban noise that was being created all around him.  Probably the most thought-provoking part of this scene is the fact that nobody else seemed to be aware that he was there.  As I crossed Dizengoff Street to photograph him from a different angle, I looked at the other people on the pedestrian crossing and as far as I could ascertain, not a single one even afforded him a glance, which says something about the extent to which this is all taken for granted, part of the norm in society.

Amidst the traffic 1Amidst the traffic 2

As I continued southward on King George Street at the junction with Bograshov Street, I came across yet another man who’d been sleeping rough, looking far less happy and far more unkempt than the one on the corner of Dizengoff and King George Streets, probably because the throng had awoken him from his slumber—remember it was almost 9 a.m.  Not only was he being disturbed by the thoughtless and cacophonous multitudes but he was being pestered by a fly.  I managed to aim and focus just before his right palm met the back of his left hand but sadly didn’t manage to record the demise of the fly (as the zipper said to the buttons) and I was left guessing to whether a fly in the hand is worth two hours of shush.  I must say, on looking at this picture again, that I am impressed with his colour coordination.

Fly goneFly gone copy

Continuing in a general southward direction towards Allenby Street and the Carmel Market, I took the picture that appears underneath.   There’s nothing inherently unusual about what appears in this picture.  This part of town has innumerable small eating places, some of which seem designed to provide you with a stomach upset in minutes rather than hours.  This place claims to have been providing Tel Avivians with gluten-free falafel since 1955 though how that tallies with the wholemeal flour also advertised is beyond me except that the falafel might be gluten-free but the pitta encasing it not so.

What is interesting about this picture, in addition to the announcement of what’s for sale and the certification from the rabbinate that the food contains no forbidden ingredients, is the hygiene arrangements.  Yes, there’s a tap, a sink, liquid soap, a garbage receptacle and—miracle of miracles—also paper for drying one’s hands.  However, the more perceptive among you may also have noticed the double-handed mug on the left-hand side of the sink. 

No, this is not for the use of thirsty people wishing to display their ambidexterity.  This is to meet the requirement of those people who, for religious reasons, shun modernity by declining to use a tap for washing their hands.  The two-handed cup beats the tap because as it is explained on the Chabad.org website that “after the first hand is washed, it is clean and pure whereas the unwashed hand is not. So if the two hands touch after the first hand was washed, it is necessary to rewash the first one so a two-handled cup is operated to make the process simpler, making it easier to avoid the hands touching each other.  Although any cup can be used to wash hands, one should be careful that the two hands don’t come in contact with each other after the first one is washed.”  Seems to me that a tap and soap do a far better job as far as hygiene is concerned but every one to his or her own craziness (“mishegass” in one of the vernaculars)!

Gluten-free falafel & sink

I finally reached the market where I bought my coffee and continued down to the bottom to catch the bus home.  Looking at the stalls, I was reminded that fruit (and vegetables to a lesser extent) are still more or less related to seasons in Israel, in contrast to the situation in places like North America or Europe where everything is available all year round.  It’s true that things have changed a bit over the years.  It used to be that grapes, for instance, were never generally available between November and April; no oranges in the summer; no plums or peaches in the winter.  These days, there are varieties of fruits that extend the season by several weeks at either end.  Citrus is available year round; this year’s persimmon season was several weeks longer than usual.  Some fruits, however, have very short seasons and if you don’t catch them during the few weeks they’re in season, you have to wait another year (or travel abroad) in order to eat them.  The cherry season is here but will soon be over; likewise apricots.  You can still find strawberries but by the end of the month, that’ll be difficult.  

Cherry season here

Apricots

Strawberries.jpg

And edible avocados have all but vanished until autumn. 

Smiling avocado

Ginger, however, is available all year round, even though the Gingerman might very well be telling us to keep our distance. 

Ginger swordsman

Anyway, after the market it was home again to make a start on thinning the picture collection.  It really is a drudge but it has to be done, I suppose and it gave me an opportunity to rediscover some images I hadn’t seen for a while.

In contrast to the Gingerman, which seemed to be telling us to keep away, this thing at Borough Market in London had a sort of “Come hither” attitude to it.

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In contrast, the “lady” in the fish market in Catania (at the bottom) was more than keen on manicure (or perhaps its pedicure or porcicure?) in order to keep up with the Joneses (or the Cohenses or whatever)!

Beard & nails

Cigarette and nails.  Ibn Gvirol Street, Tel Aviv

Nails to match copy

On a Tel Aviv bus

Nails

As seen on a London bus

Trotters, Catania

Porcine pedicure. Catania Fish Market, Sicily

I also came across a couple of sunsets.  Normally, I’m not into photographing sunsets.  I usually find them a bit boring, lots of yellows and golds and ambers with the occasional bits of red.  However, I decided I’d hold on to this pair one in Israel and one from Scotland, which I quite like.

Sunset T-A.jpg

Sunset, Tel Aviv Port

Sunset on Skye.jpg

Sunset, Elgol, Skye

Finally, in this first run-through of images to maintain or drop, there were a couple of hundred of people speaking into and staring at smartphones.  It seems to me that at any given time, at least half the population—anywhere—is engaged in some form of [in]activity related to their smartphone, whether it’s actually having a conversation (which is what I thought phones were for, taking photographs, looking at them, playing games or whatever else these wonderful little machines allow you to do.  They have become so much part of us that I cannot remember what we did and how we did it before they came along—and it’s not all that long since they arrived on the scene.

Accordionist (phones)

Mamma, It’s not easy to make a living in London.  Chalk Farm, London

(V&A)

After a hard day at the V&A

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Quiet! His cellphone arm has become disabled

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Even trees do it!

Mobiles 3

Is that a new ringtone I hear?

Mobiles

Deal done, Donald!

Phones (at the barber)

Be careful you don’t lather or shave the phone, please!

Well, there you have it.  I’ve managed to get to the end and avoid any politics, more or less.  We’ll wait and see what the week brings with it given events of the past few days before I make an utter fool of myself!

Meanwhile, for your edification and contemplation (from a half century ago and best from 1.00 into the clip!)

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