is the phrase I have used most since coming to Israel (okay, maybe 2nd to Shalom). Which is kind of silly since I'm saying "I don't speak Hebrew" in Hebrew. I got sick last week and then the internet was on the fritz, so this post will have to sum up several days worth. All in all, Sloop
have been putting everyone to shame with the regularity of their posting. I suppose I could step up and post more regularly, but I know better than to make empty promises, so I'll just settle for posting today.
I had dinner at a great resto
last week with a fellow GSBer. He told me that on his way over, he saw someone in a cafe that looked exactly like me, but with shorter hair. I've already met one Doppelgänger in the States, so imagine my surprise to find that I have another one here in Israel. The Ashkenazi look is more coveted here than the Mizrahi because its less common. Individuals with (naturally) blond hair and fair complexions are not as common as the ones with darker hair and olive skin, which just goes to show that everyone can be exotic in some region of the planet. During her visit to a resort area, the tall, blond Czech exchange student in our program was offered a proposal of marriage along with 1600 camels. No joke.
In general, I've eaten really well over the past several weeks. Dinner at Pastis
with a GSB alum working just outside of Tel Aviv, and another dinner at Beni Hadayag
in the Herzliya marina with a new Israeli friend N., who will be coming to the States next year for b-school. Beni Hadayag translates to "Beni the Fisherman". Nice! I like! The dinner was, for lack of a better term, ridiculous. For two of us, we were served 15 different salads along with our meal. As I may have mentioned before, the definition of a salad here is broader. It can mean mixed greens with chopped tomato, cheese with herbs, roasted eggplant, or fish in a spicy sauce as long as it is served during the meal and in a small dish. I think the closest analogy is that of Korean side dishes - many different ingredients, flavors, and textures, but all in small portions.
N. was gracious enough to pick me up and show me around the Herzliya marina, which has a swish new mall (with a mariner's theme a la Vegas). Apparently, even though Tel Aviv is where much of the action is, all of the really affluent Israelis live in Herzliya. And park their yachts in Herzliya marina - duh. We saw some beautiful boats there, one can only imagine how they looked during the daytime. We also had some interesting discussion over dinner. According to N., who travels to Europe often for work, many Europeans and particularly the French are rather weary of Israelis. This is pretty amazing to me because I figured that given the riots last year in the suburbs of Paris, the French would be more weary of Arabs (even though I believe that the rioters, though Muslim, were mostly of African descent). Not to mention the fact that everywhere I go in Tel Aviv, I hear people speaking French and there are several French exchange students in my classes. I'm rather curious to find out whether this falls under anti-Israeli sentiment or general xenophobic tendencies. The last time I was in France (about five years ago), I didn't really encounter much xenophobia, but then again I was able to speak reasonably coherent French (although I'm sure that this is subject to interpretation) and this was prior to the Freedom Fries debacle. Perhaps I'm missing some existing political tension - any of my Israeli or French readers (I know I have at least one of each) feel free to correct me.
In other news, last Sunday marked the 2nd time this month that there was a strike at Tel Aviv University. Apparently, every time the University tries to increase the fees, students go on strike. This is surprising because the students here pay peanuts to attend the top universities in the country. Apparently, loans to pay for school here are uncommon - while education is an investment, few choose to get into debt to pay for it. Perhaps the job prospects after graduation are not as rosy unless you go into a high-tech or biotech role? Or maybe the mandatory military service makes the student population older and more risk-averse?
Several of you have asked to see more pictures. Honestly, its been a quiet week here - I had class assignments to work on and my roommate is off in Ethiopia for a vacation. The dog is currently spending time in the country at a doggie resort. But I took a picture of her before she went off to the Doggie Hamptons. Her name is Toobab, and she is the princess of the apartment.
I thought I'd share an anecdote about how social transactions (and perhaps business transactions as well) are carried out here. The exchange student coordinator, a lovely woman named Sharon, suggested a get-together for us to have dessert at Max Brenner
Sharon sends out an email saying something to the effect of "Max Brenner is a great place. Interested? Let me know if you want to come so that I can make reservations - how about meeting at 20:00?" I respond with "I'm interested, and that time works for me." So time passes and I hear nothing back. On the day of, I call Sharon and finally reach her at 19:00 -
Le V: "Sharon, are we meeting at Max Brenner tonight?"
Sharon: "Of course! Didn't you get my email?"
Le V: "Well, yeah. But you never confirmed that it was on. Or the time."
Sharon: "I did, I said in the email that we are meeting at Max Brenner at 8 in the evening! Are you coming?"
Le V: "Erm, ok. Yeah. I'll be a bit late though..."
Note to self: When in Israel, unless you speak up and say you have a problem or that the "suggestion" doesn't work, there is no confirmation. ITS ON, SO BE THERE AND MAKE IT HAPPEN.
Over the weekend, I explored much of the city by foot and found some new neighborhoods with bars, cafes, and shopping. Sunday night was drinks with the exchange student program crowd - vodka shots and martinis. To be honest, the vodka shots were way better. I have not been impressed with the ability of bartenders here in Tel Aviv to mix drinks, so stick with the beer and shots unless you know who's mixing.
Drinks with the exchange students is like drinks at the UN - reps from Israel, France, Italy, Finland, Norway, Czech, Germany, Latvia, and the US. Hmm. Okay maybe more like drinks at the EU with Israel and the States crashing the party. ;)
This week, I am wrapping up my classes and taking final exams. But this won't stop me from hitting the best restaurant in Israel
Labels: Foodie, Israel, Life