Sunday, July 23, 2006

Sushi Rivers and Suicide Bombers

Boker tov la'chem (Good morning to you),

I will relay this entire weekend, including most of the parts I have already related, because I am too lazy to write two separate accounts for you and the blog: This weekend was probably the most productive I've had in Israel. Earlier this week, I decided that giving blood was the way to make a small but important contribution to Israel, so I found out how to do it. In Hebrew. All by myself. This is the thing I am most proud of myself for. I looked it up in the Israeli Yellow Pages, called them, somehow formulated my question, somehow understood their answers, and understood what time I should come in to give blood. I decided to do it on Friday, since this is our weekend (again, I get messed up by the Friday/Saturday thing) On Friday morning (like Saturday morning in America), I got up at 8:00 am. Yes, that is earlier than I have ever gotten up for a college class in my life, excluding the first semester, when I was stupid enough to take English 30 at 8:00 am, but that's beside the point.

Anywayyy, so I got up early, and walked to the building (which I figured out how to get to using the Hebrew map search feature!), and went up to the second floor, where the Bank HaDam (Blood Bank) was. There, I was presented with an application in Hebrew. Obviously, I'm not at the level where I can decipher it yet, so I asked for one in English. The only other one they had was in Russian. Excellent. So, after I filled out the application, I was given a glass of water to drink and a small, energetic old woman named Estri took a sample of blood and ran it through the blood reading machine (I have no clue what it's called) and I was set to go. I didn't have anything for breakfast but I lied and said I did. Obviously, Estri did not believe me, because she gave me coffee and cookies, and then I went in to the actual room where they put me on a bed and hooked me up to a blood machine. There were about 4 other people giving blood with me in the room and the atmosphere was quiet but not serious.

There were also two Tel Aviv University students doing a study on blood, and they took a test tube of mine and also asked me questions about where I was from, how much I exercised, whether I had been in the Yarkon River or not (the River in North Tel Aviv...it is rather toxic,) etc. It was very exciting. Afterward, I sat recovering and the woman who had been giving blood next to me turned out to be from California. Well, she was born in Israel and then her parents moved to California and she finished school there, and now she is back here. She said, "your parents must be terrified-mine are." And her parents are Israelis. I was kind of disgusted with them, that they decided to just leave and that their daughter is now here, but lately, I've been realizing that I have no right to judge anyone about anything because just the other night I wanted to go home immediately.

After I gave blood, I left immediately and decided to go to Azrieli (the huge shopping center) before it closed for the day (3:30 on Fridays), but in the meantime, feeling extremely satisfied and productive, I called my friend Vitaliy, who was also in Israel on an internship with the David Project (http://davidproject.org/), which is a political organization that gives the foreign media backgrounders, etc about Israeli current events and presents Israel to the foreign media in conjunction with the Government. Needless to say, they have been extremely busy the last two weeks. Vitaliy does a lot of research and actually gets to meet with the media, which is very exciting. He's been to the Jerusalem Post office, met with Important Israeli figures, and Eitzan Schwartz, who won Israel's Ambassador program last year (http://www.shaister.com/index.php/?p=506; http://www.keshet-tv.com/hashagrir/),who I've heard smells really good.

Anyway, we met for lunch at the Azrieli Mall (with Vitaliy and his grandma, who lives here) and just talked about what we were doing in the various projects. I kind of felt bad because Vitaliy's grandmother speaks Bulgarian and a little Hebrew and no English (Vitaly is from Bulgaria) and I speak Russian and a little English and no Hebrew, so Vitaliy and I spoke in English. But when he explained things to his grandmother, I could totally understand them! Russian and Bulgarian are apparently very close. So it sounds like he is on a really cool internship, but they had to leave because they were having lunch at home. I was left to frantically buy things for everyone before the mall closed, and afterwards, I took a walk down Allenby Street,which has A LOT of Russian stores, where I bought my movies. There were HORDES of people outside because it was Friday, and in my usual morose mood, I thought," It would be easy to perpetrate a terrorist attack right now and no one would notice." I usually think about things like this. Like, if I'm near a bus I'll think "If there is a terrorist on the bus, how much time do I have to run away from it?" Or, "If Nasrallah decides to strike Tel Aviv, where would be the best place?" Or, "How much time do I have to get to a bomb shelter?" Or, "Did that security guard check my bag properly?" Things like that. But I try not to let them dominate my life.

So, after the Russian store, I went to the grocery store, which was jam-packed before Shabbat, to buy hummus, pita, and grapes. And then I sat out on the balcony eating them. Such is the life.

On Friday night, Batami and Schneid went out to eat (I didn't want to spend money,) so I wandered out towards the beach by myself. I thought about sitting down at one of the cafes at the beach and ordering a plate of watermelon to eat and just sit and watch the ocean, but then Batami called me and said that there was a suspected suicide bomber in the Greater Tel Aviv area. Great. I walked home by myself, extremely paranoid. Every man had a huge bag that was a bomb and every woman was hiding something under her dress. Every loud noise startled me, and I hoped I would get back ok to the apartment. I did indeed, and we stayed there for the rest of the night. I was miserable. Batami and Schneid started saying that if it was fate you die in Israel, then it was meant to happen. I totally don't buy that. You are not fated to do anything. The things that happen to you are a direct result of your actions and if something happens to you, it could have been avoided by making another choice.

The next day we woke up and found this out: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3279470,00.html

And we were relieved. We spent all day at the beach and went to a sushi bar for dinner. That was exciting, because not only was it sushi, but it was ON A RIVER!!! That means that the sushi goes by and you can take as much as you want, as the picture shows:http://www.pre-motion.nl/uploadedfiles/producten/Close_up_sfeer.jpg
. The plates are colored according to price, and they just add up the colors of your plates. Schneid and I were in our element because we love sushi. Then we went home.

Today I am at work.

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