This has been a perfectly horrible week for Jerusalem residents, and it's not over yet. Nothing to do with terrorism [fut,fut, fut!] so it probably won't hit the news. First, the Under-21 UEFA tournament game last night at the Teddy Stadium. The entire area surrounding the stadium is currently a labyrinth of temporary traffic arrangements, due to the ongoing construction of the southern part of the Begin Highway. This includes bridges and access ramps and underpasses and all the construction is going on while a major traffic thoroughfare has to be kept open. The merchants in the adjoining Malcha Mall are trying to be discreet in their anger, but business has fallen off ever since this stretch of the highway began, and it doesn't help that thousands of fans have the bright idea to use the mall's free parking lot to park for the game, since stadium parking is currently where the building materials for the highway and the new basketball stadium [also under construction] are being kept.
Tomorrow and Friday, Jerusalem will host its first "Formula 1" race. [ See http://www.timesofisrael.com/formula-1-races-into-jerusalem/ ]. Jerusalem is not a city for marathons or a "peace road show", as this is billed. Paralysis road show would be more like it. Jerusalem, even its new part, is not designed for getting anywhere fast. For one thing, Jerusalem sits on top of a number of low mountains, and to accommodate the gradients of the hills and valleys, no street runs straight for more than a few dozen meters. I can't imagine any of the competing cars driving at more than 40 mph unless they want to crash into somebody's garden. Secondly, Jerusalem is actually quite a small town [750,000 residents] and there aren't a lot of major thoroughfares, although the streets which are, are essential to getting around. Residents can't really take any alternative routes to get from one side of town to the other, without going 'round Robin Hood's barn, as the saying goes. Every route seems to funnel into the town center, which will be off limits for most of two days. I know some shop owners who have decided it isn't worth the time or effort to even open up. Security means that even adjacent streets to the race route will be closed, too. Whenever a major diplomat or dignitary comes to town, traffic disruption is extreme, so we are well-versed in the sheer inconvenience and economic damage this publicity stunt -- for that is what it is -- will cause. This is never included in estimates of costs.
And, last but not least, there is a festival of lights at the Old City, until Thursday evening, with all kinds of illuminations projected onto Jerusalem's walls and buildings. We should all be grateful, I suppose, that it's only at night, although I wonder if the Old City's residents are happy about it, having tourists and just about everyone else, peering at them. I'm sure the police, racking up huge amounts of overtime besides making the government oodles of money from ticketing illegally parked cars, are thrilled.
I am not going to go ANYWHERE for two days, except to the local makolet [mini-grocery] for milk. Today I bought the fixin's for Vietnamese spring rolls, and tomorrow I will make a large quantity, and freeze them, and I'll also, inshallah, cut the fabric for the awning to go on the roof of our new pergola on the porch. The forecast, for the day of the race, is for hamsin [very hot and dry wind] and up to 31 degrees Celsius, so maybe I'll fill the huge wading pool we bought for granddaughter Shir and spend a long time in it...
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