The family that was supposed to pick me up this afternoon did not show up. (Does anyone see a theme here?!)
I waited a half hour, as people are not very timely here, and then called them. The woman was surprised, said she had told Kamle they had to reschedule. Kamle never mentioned it to me. Kamle is a lovely, but not very organized person. Then again, Said can be absent minded himself.
I don’t have a grasp on how much it is cultural, how much endemic to this particular organization. I want to discuss this with Lilli, hope I will have the opportunity to do so soon. But we haven’t seen much of her lately. First it was Sukkot, which lasted several days. Then she was sick for a day or two. She is going on vacation in a couple of days! And she only works here part time. I hope to catch her for some time tomorrow. But it is Suzi’s last few days here, and tomorrow is the last time Suzi and Lilli will see one another. So I feel like I should let Suzi have priority in discussing her projects with Lilli, since I will still have another three weeks after Suzi is gone.
The class also, of course, did not work out as planned, but actually worked out quite well. Eiman and Layla said they wanted to continue, but not today, because they had too much work to do. But Mohammed, who was very frustrated and disappointed when the group didn’t meet last time, was more than eager to meet with me individually. He has been working, with another man, on a video project, which I didn’t know anything about. He began to explain. The man he’s working with is Said’s brother, also an artist. He is apparently doing a performance piece in Haifa in a couple of days. The video is a part of that. And if I understand Mohammed correctly, it is a protest piece, against the inequities suffered by Arab Israelis. So now, I am hoping to go to Haifa on Thursday.
Next, Mohammed and I went to the Memories of Place exhibit, which is a part of the archives project, and the permanent part of the gallery exhibits. He is so eager to practice English, and began to talk to me as if he were guiding a group through the exhibit. We spent an hour or so, discussing photos and looking up words. It was very satisfying for both of us. I expect we will be doing this as many times as possible over the next few weeks. It also falls in with Lilli’s desire to have me work on English translations for the exhibit.
Rawan, as it turns out, will be leaving soon, to go to school in Jerusalem. She had finished high school, and intended to study nursing. The nursing programs don’t accept students until they are 19 or 20. But Rawan has now decided that she wants to study special education, and possibly art therapy. She apparently applied, late, last week, had an interview today, and expects to move to Jerusalem next week. I will miss her, and am hoping she will be coming home on the weekends, since everyone seems to. It is a big deal for a young person to move away from home, even to go to school. She is excited, but nervous, especially about with whom she will be rooming. I said that is perfectly natural, it’s the same with college students in the U.S. Suzi remarked, to me, not to Rawan, that she thinks she would do fine with another Arab student, or with an observant Jew(!) but not with a secular person.
I don’t think I described Jamal’s goodbye party. It was a barbeque, with a grill brought up to the roof. We had steaks,, and the requisite eight or ten different salads. The food was all from Jamal’s brother’s restaurant. Not the one they had taken me to; a different brother! After the meal, there were speeches made, by Jamal, another worker who had also completed his community service recently, by Said, and by a police officer who was the supervisor for the community service workers, in 34 different locations around the area. It was strange having a police officer at our party when everyone had been demonstrating against the police the day before. But this was another branch of service, and also, this officer was an Arab. Said presented the departing workers and the police officer with bouquets of flowers, and the two workers with Korans. I will miss having Jamal around. Hopefully he will come to visit, and also continue to invite me to his home.
Yesterday, Suzi and I headed in to Tel Aviv for the day, with Said, who was going in for a meeting with the organization who is doing the fundraising for the Museum they are planning.
Said dropped us off at a bus stop at the edge of the city. We took the bus to the last stop, the Carmel Market, where we roamed around admiring produce and taking pictures. And where I finally found FIGS! And bought a huge bagful of them. They don’t seem to sell things in small quantities here So I have been eating figs in large quantities since.
At one point, Suzi picked up a piece of fruit, and the stall owner chastised her for touching it. We had done the same thing at other markets in Umm el Fahen, and nobody minded. And why couldn’t he have just said something, not in a hostile way? I don’t know if he was Jewish or Arab, ( I can’t tell when people are speaking Hebrew or Arabic, they both have, to my ear, similar guttural sounds,)was just a crabby person, or was just having a bad day. But he was the first unfriendly person I have met in the country.
We walked through other parts of the market and the surrounding area, where there were multiple fabric shops, and button and ribbon shops, and then continued to walk through other areas that were a bit more upscale, toward the shopping mall where we were to meet Said.
The meeting went longer than expected. I am really curious to get Lilli’s perspective tomorrow. We had about an hour to kill at the mall, the biggest mall in Israel, according to Rawan, who loves going there. It was not much different from any other mall, and we couldn’t seem to find anything that was Israeli made, or that we would want to purchase as a gift. Rawan says she especially likes a store there that carries natural cosmetics, their only store in Israel. As Suzi mentioned (again, to me, not to Rawan) it is fascinating to observe the young women’s interest in fashion and cosmetics, combined with their custom of covering their heads.
I would consider returning to Tel Aviv, if I have the time, but have to say I was a little underwhelmed by what I saw. It is possible that the parts I saw were not the most interesting areas, although one area we strolled through had a kind of hip ambience. It sounds as though the port area, Jaffa, is an appealing place.
I am trying to just take things just as they happen, certainly a necessity as far as classes, invitations, and other kinds of plans. I know I will go to Haifa, to visit 93 year old Hedvig, who has invited me to stay with her. And I do have nearly a week when the gallery is closed in a couple of weeks, to take an extended trip. I would like to visit Nazareth, and the Dead Sea, and Masada, and spend some more time in Jerusalem. We shall see. I would certainly like to get some more of a Jewish perspective on the country.