Saturday, January 23, 2016

A Taste of Shabbos

I now present the next installment of my ongoing travelblogue so that all of you know what is up in this, my trip to the holy land, 5776.

First, a note on technology: Ellipsis tablet (android) using RDP to connect to the Windows 2008 server at my school, through which I am running Chrome. To type, I have added a "Finite" bluetooth keyboard. The apartment wifi is not bad (but gets sluggish with 5 devices all sucking signal in the same room).

OK -- Friday. Friday was weird. After sleeping a couple of hours, we all woke when one kid or another didn't feel well. Eventually, many others went to sleep. I didn't. Our apartment has windows which look like glass but which stop noise with the efficacy of tissue paper, and Thursday nights are party time for Israelis. We heard choruses of birthday songs being sun well after 3:30 AM and the clang-clang-clang of the light rail outside our window only paused briefly for the 30 minute break between "last train" and "first train." During that time, I believe a guy walked by and clanged a bell, just to keep us on our toes. By 6AM I was ready to be awake for real. I knew I had to do some shopping for what Israelis call "Salatim" but which are more like "dips" than "salads" (techina is NOT a salad. You know how I know? Because it is good, that's how). I also knew that the Machane Yehuda market supposedly fills up early on Fridays as everyone goes shopping for Shabbos. So I went right when it opened up so the aisles wouldn't be blocked by pushy consumers. Instead, they were blocked by vendors unloading boxes and moving merchandise around.

A little secret: The shuk has only 8 stores in it.
1. fruit and veggies
2. nuts and spices
3. meat and fish
4. cellular outlet
5. candy
6. restaurant
7. bakery
8. Assorted paper good and miscellaneous junk

These 7 stores have approximately 3000 outlets each mixed around the market. And by law, you have to be able to buy espresso at any of them, at any time.

So I went to a few storefronts and eventually found a woman from whom I felt comfortable buying side "salatim." I ordered 7 different ones, 4 of which were variations on egg plant.

I walked back, and on the way, went to Coffizz (or Coffixx, I don't really know) and ordered a "black coffee" which turned out to be a turkish coffee. Dark, bitter and full of gravel, like me.

I got back and sat around wondering what one does at 7:30. So at 8AM Elijah and I went to the shuk. We walked around and ended up at a calzone/boureka place (combination bakery and restaurant). We chatted and he at and then we went back to the apartment. I wondered what I was supposed to do at 9:30 on a Friday, so at 10 o'clock, I was met by an old friend from Teaneck, Steve L. and we went to the shuk.Same stores were there and the concept of not having slept was catching up wth me. We wandered as Steve did his shopping. He went to his vegetable guy, his nuts guy and his bakery guy. In the middle, we went to a little restaurant called Rachmo. He ate. I tried not to be sick or fall asleep. On our way back through the shuk, we ran into the other half of my work and Teaneck so we made small talk. Eventually, I stumbled back to the apartment. The time was 1:30 and I didn't know what to do, but I knew that it was vital that I stay awake so I could have a good night's sleep and get on to the Israeli time schedule. So I fell asleep.

The rest of the afternoon was a blur of getting ready for Shabbos and asking each other if we were ready for Shabbos. The horn sounded at 4:27 local time. That was cool. The light rail stopped running, the streets emptied out and there really was a palpable sense of calm and quiet.

We walked (in 2 shifts) to my sister and brother-in-law's house for dinner. Children abounded, chicken was et and biscotti were savored. Eventually, we wrapped ourselves up, walked back to the apartment, walked up the 8+ flights of stairs, drank a few beers, played some "Go-fish", discussed middle east politics and fell asleep. While I was up between 4 and 4:30 AM, the sleep was not bad. The kids woke us up at 11:45. We scrambled to be ready for lunch (it was 48 degrees and rainy - gross but spiritually uplifting). Lunch was salmon, calzones and side salatim. A note about the salatim. There are things which work well as salatim -- techina, eggplant and combinations of them. I also bought a "Lemon salad". Lemons are good for many things. Cleaning products, car fresheners, lemon ade and even things to put on a piece of fish. Lemon salad is an abomination. It has the flavor of bitter lemon peel with the unpleasing consistency of lemon jelly, plus chunks of lemon peel. It was gross. We all tried it just so we could all say that it was horrible -- a shared experience and a common enemy. I am sure that the woman only has it in the display case so she can see which of her customers is a stupid tourist. [note -- if you like Lemon Salad, then I that I am sorry that your taste buds are broken. The stuff is objectionable]

After a lunch (which also included my niece, her husband and their kid, plus another niece of mine -- not that I ate all these people) we waddled back to the apartment. I decided to try the Shabbos elevator with Talia while the others walked up the stairs. Then, the balance of Shabbos was centered around a short nap and some card games.

Afterwards, we ordered Pizza Hut. The pies arrived and we dug in. I have had better pizza. I have had MUCH better pizza (the dough was too fluffy/thick/doughy and the flavor of the sauce/cheese was unimpressive) but some guy delivered it to us. For those of you who generally get things delivered, this might not seem all that exciting. But that's not a regular part of my world. In Teaneck, I have had Chinese food delivered. But Chinese food is not pizza and certainly not Pizza Hut. This is food from a restaurant that advertises on television and some guy brought me the food and I didn't have to comb my hair, or put on pants or nothing. Dude brought ME food. Cramps be damned! I ate way too much in the way of cheesy bites because dude BROUGHT IT TO ME.

Now we are arguing about what we want to say we intended to do so we know what to regret not having done when we wake up in the morning. More updates as events warrant. Meanwhile, I'm having a Goldstar. It's Israeli for "sort of beer."

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