Following a quite serious post about the many achievements which crowned the short history of the state of Israel, I feel like writing something more personal about my connection to this country.
So here is my own “10 things I love about Israel” list. Short and straightforward. It started off as a “5 things I love about Israel” but I had to allow myself five more entries, just to cover the basics:
1. Sun, sun, sun. And its direct corollaries. I love warmth. The consistency of the weather. I love sunshine. I love to wear sunglasses. I love to hang laundry on the line. I love banana trees in Tel Aviv. I love to shower with sun-heated water. I love to swim in the ocean from March to October. Anyone jealous already?
2. The Wall. Not the ugly, controversial one, cementing the division between Israel and the Territories. No: I love the wailing wall in Jerusalem. I know tourists get turned off by the queues at metal detectors and the sweat of hasty Orthodox men. Bu once you reach the women section, small and intimate, you’ll be rewarded (well, you do need to be a woman for that). The atmosphere is very special, consisting in one of the most amazing sound environment I have ever been exposed to: close your eyes and you’ll be floating in a cloud of whispered prayers, gentle sobs, secret wishes, crying. There is an almost tangible reservoir of hope that fills the air. All this is terribly human. I hold this place in the highest respect.
3. Tel Aviv Cafes. In Italy we might have good coffee in a cup, but the general bar hangout will be shabby, smoky and conventional. French cafes are also overrated: they are dirty, overpriced and employing the most unfriendly waiters, eager to kick you out the moment you finish your drink. European upscale cafes will be expensive and snobbish. On the contrary, Tel Aviv’s cafes are friendly places where you can take your time, use your laptop, mix with the locals or enjoy an undisturbed reading session. Interior design varies from funky to trendy, but never banal. Although prices may vary, you never have to fear you’ll get ripped off like in some cafes in Florence or Venice. Evviva!
4. Long Hair. That’s right: women here start cultivating their long hair since childhood, and keep it up to old age. I love it, because it gives such a feminine and natural look. I cannot think of a female friend with short hair or fake dyes (something which in Italy is almost an obsession, unfortunately). I also love the predominance of luscious curls in Jewish population, but I already ran out of entries.
5. Easy Park. The little miracle machine is revolutionary. It is a simple looking, pre-paid gadget which allows you to be charged only for the exact time you park. Like it reads on http://www.easypark.com, “that’s so handy it’s just like having a parking meter inside your car”. To when an Easy Park equivalent in Europe?
6. Sachleb. Is that even Israeli? I don’t know, but it is soooooo good! The list of ingredients includes water, sugar and the starch found in the ground bulb of the orchid. That much for exoticism. Plus it can be drank hot or cold, although I have a strong preference for the first.
8. Arik Einstein. Oh my God. My favorite. I don’t know how he is not a world acclaimed singer. Such class. You have to hear his voice to believe it.
9. Trees. In a country deprived of rainfall for several months a year, Israeli trees should be awarded for their stubborness and beauty. Have a look at the giant, fat ficus around, or the scented Frangipanes. If you look carefully, you’ll spot oranges, papayas, avocados and bananas in the heart of Tel Aviv. And what is the name of that tree blooming with fire red blossoms in April? Awesome. A different tree will pop out incredible flowers every other week in spring.
10. the Haaretz in English!!! Thank you for saving my life as a reader.
This is it. I will follow up with the inevitable “10 things I hate about Israel” in the next post, and I suspect it might overlap 🙂
What are your favorite tens?