Monday, March 07, 2005

Seeing My World Through a Visitor's Eyes

Yesterday was spent with visitors from London. H and B arrived on Friday, so they think Sunday is part of the weekend, and they are here for a week. H was born in Israel, we met at work before he left in 1997 for greener pastures. B is from Scotland, but this is not his first trip. Whenever H visits, I look at Tel Aviv and try to visualize it in time-stopped images, try to highlight every thing that changed since his last visit: the new landscaping of the boulevards with separate bike and pedestrian paths, more and more restored Bauhaus buildings, more Dead Sea product shops on Sheinkin Street. We play a little game about what will happen "when peace comes," getting more and more fanciful and outrageous: "Tel Aviv will be more luxurious than Dubai," says B, whose grandfather was a British soldier during the Mandate period. I listen and hear the changes that have taken place in H's English: it now has a Scottish lilt.

The weather was most cooperative, so we went for a walk. The tayelet (paved promenade along the beachfront) now goes continuously from Tel Aviv to Jaffa, past the infamous Dolphinarium, past the Lehi museum building (my favorite), stopping at a beachside cafe I'd never been to for rest and surprisingly good refreshments, finally into Jaffa past a photographer with a wedding party posing the bride against a backdrop of the Tel Aviv skyline. B has never seen that statue of the whale where Jonah used to live, and I had never before seen the new luxury apartment complex just outside the Old City. (Sorry I didn't bring my camera along on this walk.)

I try to remember how it looked and felt 16 years ago, when it was all new and unfamiliar to me and I was filled with worries: would I find an apartment, would I learn the language, would I find work, would I make friends. I have now lived in my Tel Aviv home longer than any place else. I'm so glad I took a chance. I hope H comes back again soon.

15 comments:

panthergirl said...

Thank you so much for leaving a comment on my blog, to support Greyhound Rescue!

I find your blog fascinating, and will definitely be back to read more about life in Israel.

Savtadotty said...

Thank you. That sounds like a win-win. I hope my rhapsodizing about "life on the Mediterranean" inspires you to at least visit Italy one day, if not Israel too.

Udge said...

I'm impressed that you took such a huge leap of faith and geography, when I moved to Germany I had already learned the language and built up a circle of friends. I enjoyed the descriptions of Tel Aviv, vaguely reminiscent of Lawrence Durrell's description of Alexandria.

Savtadotty said...

Udge: Israel is uniquely and paradoxically a new/old homeland for Jews dispersed over the centuries throughout the world. My roots really are here, although I knew that only theoretically until I came - that was my leap of faith. I couldn't and wouldn't have tried it anywhere else.

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