Your Brain is Green
Of all the brain types, yours has the most balance. You are able to see all sides to most problems and are a good problem solver. You need time to work out your thoughts, but you don't get stuck in bad thinking patterns. You tend to spend a lot of time thinking about the future, philosophy, and relationships (both personal and intellectual).

Monday, July 02, 2007

Where AM I?

Last week we all went to Herzliya, to a restaurant called Papagaio. This may not seem like a big deal to you, but not only were we en famille, both daughters and their fiances, and DH, but I very rarely leave Jerusalem. I just never seem to have the time to go anywhere, which is ridiculous, in a country as small as ours.

Besides, I intensely dislike the humidity of the coast, and if I were to go to the Tel Aviv-Gush Dan region, I'd go in December. But who am I to refuse a free meal? (Nurses, it should be noted, never refuse free meals.)

We drove through the chaos at the exit from Jerusalem that is the building site of a very modernistic Calatrava bridge that the city needs like a lok in kop, just as the sun was setting behind the Judean Hills, and everything seemed normal (the road's been improved a bit, I confess) until we got to the Shaar HaGai interchange, where the mountains suddenly change to flat land. What had been fields seemed mostly now to be road construction sites, with unfinished tunnels and flyovers and bridges and the landscape totally ruined in just about every direction. I had hardly taken this in, as we passed the exits to Ben Gurion, when one of the red double decker trains rushed by, and I had the feeling I had been transported suddenly to Queens, or the Jersey approaches to Manhattan. Tony Soprano would feel right at home. The entire approach to Tel Aviv now looks dreary and run down, with large billboards, often almost entirely in English, advertising Sony or Chevrolet. The roads are full of shiny, large cars, and in between hi-rise buildings like the round Azrieli Tower there are strip malls with Office Depots and McDonalds.

The restaurant itself is at the marina, just outside a shopping mall that could have been anywhere in the American Southwest, with its "Mexican Mediterranean" theme. For a fixed price you get an endless amount of 11 varieties of beef which has been grilled on rotating spits "in the Brazilian manner". Except that I ate too much meat and not enough roast potatoes, so that I awoke hypoglycemic and sweating at 4 a.m., it was a pleasant experience--I might think about going again in about 5 years or so.

But I felt so sad, seeing the Israel I made aliyah to disappear under the Trans-Israel Highway and skyscrapers and malls a la East Coast USA. Time was, as you drove from Jerusalem to the coast, Shaar HaGai was an intersection, where (after waiting for an age and with your pulse racing that you could get your car in gear and cross the dual carriageway before some other car came, like a bat out of hell, across your path) you turned left to go to Bet Shemesh. This "intercity highway" was actually two lanes in each direction at this point. As it went around the Taggart fort, dating from the British Mandate, now the headquarters of the Tank Brigade (with a tank up on a high platform, looking very odd indeed) and the Trappist monastery at Latrun, the road narrowed to one lane in each direction. It crossed a ravine by way of a single lane wooden bridge, causing traffic buildups in each direction, then rose out of the ditch by a series of hairpin curves, to enter an area of moshavim, mostly subsisting by selling produce and flowers at roadside stalls.

There was no such thing as an "express" Tel Aviv-Jerusalem bus when I arrived in the 70s. There were several varieties of "local" depending on whether the bus stopped at every stop or every second or third stop, or merely when flagged down or a passenger (who then would often trudge a kilometer or more to his yishuv) indicated he wanted to alight. There was no airconditioning--the buses resembled the yellow and black school buses one sees in rural American areas (except these looked a lot more banged up and dirty) and the back third was empty for baggage, goats, chickens, or Yemenites, who felt more comfortable squatting on the floor, apparently, than sitting on the fiberglass (hard to vandalize) seats.

The road was lined with eucalyptus trees, bark peeling, leaves always--even in the winter when it rained--looking dry and tired. Every so often there'd be a black and white sign, like an arrow, pointing to a clump of houses in the midst of fields that, depending on the season, were either plowed earth, green with growing grain or sunflowers, or yellow as harvest approached. "Gezer" was about halfway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, and it was always something of a shock to realize that the modern kibbutz was barely a stone's throw from Solomon's chariot city. A lot of the place names, such as Mikveh Israel, had distinct resonances to any student of Zionist history, not to mention ancient history.

The closer to Tel Aviv and the coast one got, the more the fields gave way to orchards. The Nesher cement factory intersection was where one really felt the approach of the city. And the old central bus station in Tel Aviv! A world in itself. I think I'm the only person around who actually misses the old Central Bus Station in Jerusalem. It was, so, well, Israeli. It was so grimy and uncomfortable, open to the elements, with convoluted railings and splintery benches designed to keep the passengers from mobbing the driver when the bus (finally) opened its doors. But prior to the everyone-has-his-own-car era, the Egged bus co-op was a real leveler of society and you met everyone (and not infrequently their pets and/or farm animals) on the bus. Thank heaven Tverya's bus station still hasn't been "modernised".

I don't mind good highways, and fancy restaurants and malls. But so much of the flavor of Israel is going, soon they'll have to build theme parks to remind us what the earlier decades of the country were like ("Experience life in a ma'abara! Work in the fields by day and dance around medurot at night like a chalutz at the Tzena-World! Group discounts for students and pensioners")

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