Saturday, February 18, 2017

The Post and the Agent

The dramatic rise in  online shopping of the last few years has turned our post offices, especially the smaller ones, into somewhat crowded and frustrating places. 

The Postal Authority has been trying to improve things  in terms  of increased speed of service,  but that doesn't always work as expected. The usual joke is that the mail symbol of a running deer (appears on our stamps since 1950) should be replaced with that of a crawling frog.

On our street there's a cute tiny post office agency which is very convenient for me geographically. We get our written mail in postboxes that cover the back outside walls. The packages and parcels are inside, in the appropriate back room .The agency is run by a hard working person who loves his job.  However, one person is not enough, far from it, and delivery is sometimes delayed.

The place, located at the intersection of two streets, vis-a-vis a tiny commercial center , a synagogue, and a bus stop, is also too small considering the large population it serves; it could and should be a bit expanded, especially as there is adequate space for that. There are days when people are waiting outside as there's no room for them to join the queue inside.

Somehow,over the last years, it has become clear to everyone, that the postal agent likes it that way; He had a helper during the quieter times - before the online flood of parcels -  and got him fired. Enlarging the place could mean more workers, and that might not be his wish.

The postal agent (father of eleven!) is also a town council member, so that's probably how he has his way. People are both fearful and respectful of him, so they will think twice before signing any formal complaint.

I remember telling him once about the need for an additional worker; he ignored my remark with a silent, irritable look. So, I never again repeated it. I'm sure, however, that he hears a similar remark from other customers. I suppose supervisors from the Postal Authority are also aware of the situation... and yet, they let it go on. 

Well, as some will say, there are worse things in life than that. I believe it will somehow get solved, or... not.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

IMTM 2017

The 23rd annual international tourism fair ( the full name of IMTM - International Mediteranean Tourism Market) was held at the Tel Aviv Trade Fair and Convention Center on 7-8 February.  

The IMTM  event  is mainly for professional bodies in the field of tourism ( tour operators, tourist agencies. cruise lines, airlines companies , hotels etc...).  It consists of presentations, seminars, workshops, conferences. Around 16:00 oclock, however,  it opens for a couple of hours, for the large public to have a glimpse at the booths representing some 50 countries and get information on various touristic destinations.

visitors at the various booths

As it was a warm, nice day I went there on Tuesday, the 7th of Feb. to wander around in the large pavilion and see what was new. 

For me, the fair was a good opportunity to get some Free city and regional  quality tourist maps, and enjoy a few attractions offered at the various booths. Well, I got my maps and even more than that; at the Lithuania stand I was given a small gift of coasters and a wooden pen. At the "Israir" Group stand, I got to refreshen my suitcase identity tags with new ones, provided freely,of course. Some of the booths  (Vietnam, China ,Ruanda ...) displayed a few handcrafted items specific to the country they represented. 

Ruanda - nice handcraft items displayed on the desk

As for attractions, Romania, for example, brought a young folksinger and a saxophonist . Very good idea of attracting people's attention. I've greatly enjoyed their  musical show. As I was born and raised in that country, it naturally brought back some memories.

the folksinger and the saxophonist at Romania booth

what a team!

Panama had a couple of women dancers in extravagant dresses

Panama dancers

Panama joy

At the USA stand there was a tall guy dressed as an Indian, and at the Slovenia stand, an elderly man dressed in an historical outfit of the austro-ungarian epoch. The israeli city of Nazareth came up with some village dressed people.

the USA  "Indian"

heavy, historical outfit at Slovenia booth

villagers from Nazareth area

At some stands, the hosts were dressed in traditional costumes
or had some traditional motifs introduced in the booth decoration.

the Moldova stand

Belarus - traditional shirt and cake

At the Dominican Republic's place there were four round little tables with satin white maps featuring the printed map of the country. Lovely sight!

round table - white  map with the country's map printed on it

The israelis had, among other exhibits, some product samples at their booths: cosmetics from the Dead Sea , food from the Galilee and other regions of the country.

cheese and olives from the Galilee

 I was nicely impressed by the fact that a tiny, almost hidden country like Albania had quite a few people approach the stand and ask for information about tourism there.

Albania booth

As I said, I was mainly looking for maps, but there was a lot of other kind of interesting stuff there as well. For example, it appears that many countries are interested in wellness tourism. So, there was a multitude of pamphlets describing Spa resorts and their conditions (prices, accomodation, medical supervision).

Information on tourist possibilities was given not only in paper format but also on  CD-s.(I've got myself the discs of Istanbul and Kenya). I asked for some info on a certain area in Ukraine , and I was given  very detailed  oral explanation  in addition to the displayed written one.

 Turkey usually gets a great deal of israeli tourists, so I was not surprised to see its tourism factors fully represented at the Exhibition.

turkish airlines booth

A visit to such an event as IMTM allows one to feel  'the world in a nutshell', as they say, and it's quite an enriching experience.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Security Screening

suitcase  screening  device (web picture)

People and their luggage get scanned  at airports, major bus terminals / train stations, malls, courthouses, and other public facilities  (at least this is the case in Israel) - the purpose of that being to detect concealed metallic or non-metallic security threats (knives,weapons,explosives, certain liquids/ gels/ powders/ plastics).

body screening (web picture)

handheld scanner (web picture)

There's little accurate information as to the potential health effects of these screening systems. It is generally argued that there isn't much risk, if at all, but I personally believe there is. It's not a one-time thing, and radiation accumulates. The more you go through airports and all the other places where you get screened, the more radiation you absorb.

They say the detection  is only about 50 percent successful, so maybe it's not worth the trouble. Unfortunately, it has to be done. We live in a nightmarish world in which terrorism reigns and governments are helpless against it. Prevention through detection is our main real hope.

As for success, well, we invest  millions in things that we know in advance that there will be very little success about them, and yet we do it, we have to do it. For example, all those reabilitation centers for drug and alcohol addicts, or for released jail prisoners. Most of these people return to their old habits and pose a risk both to themselves and to society. Nobody will dare suggest to give in and close the above mentioned centers. 

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Ramla's Market

Markets and bazaars are not what they used to be, and yet, they attract lots of people through their variety of items, good deals, colorful atmosphere, and fun.

The market of Ramla town is considered
 one of the oldest, most authentic, and cheapest markets in Israel. 

the place hasn't always been sheltered

Ramla, a central little town near Tel-Aviv, characterized by a mixed population of jews, arabs, christians, karaites - has quite a few historical and religious sites (see my post on the White Tower, for instance). It also has a museum with a hoard of real gold coins, attractions such as the Pool of Arches (where one can sail in a little boat below ground), and a grave of a british soldier ,named...Harry Potter.

Yet, the fame of Ramla comes from its market-  located in the town's Old City, in the area between  the central bus station ,the big Mosque, the museum, and the President's garden.

                                      the Great Mosque

the President's garden

If you're looking for some fine spices, ethnic food, hummus eateries, fresh fruit and vegetables, dried fruit,  nuts, household items, clothing, arab style antiques  - this market is the place.

apples, lemons, onions, potatoes, tomatoes

ripe bannanas

avocado, tomatoes, potatoes



dried fruit, nuts, almonds, spices


shoes'  shop

household items

Many come here for a culinary experience to sample some turkish bourekas, tunisian sandwich, or "wipe" some hummus off the plate in a 'hole in the wall' type of eatery ('hole in the wall' - not my original expression , I borrowed it from somewhere, but I like it; it's almost accurate). Several bakeries provide bread, pita, rolls, and pastry to those many customers who're shopping around .

"hole in the wall" eatery of tunisian sandwiches

eatery providing various ethnic dishes


What caught my eye, even more than the displayed merchandise, were people standing in line, reading  texts, talking on the phone, or having a friendly chat in the middle of the main market street. See photos below:

reading (?) while in line to buy products

on the phone, what else

muslim girls  chatting near a juice selling stall

I went there on Wednesday. It was a very sunny, warm day. In fact, the sun was beating mercilessly (the nights are still freezing). The sun's hitting combined with the vendors' shoutings made me feel dizzy at times.

strong sun

On Wednesdays there are actually two markets - the usual, daily market along Jabotinsky street , and in addition, at a short distance,  an open market which is a mixture of cheap clothing/ household items, and a flea market. The latter, a sort of enclave, is not easy" to navigate"; the surface is not flat, and one walks up and down on earth, sand and pebbles.

cheap clothing

household items on the ground

muslim women with shopping bags

flea market       (I like  the woman's braid)


It was a tiring day, but nevertheless one of good experience in shopping and social diversity. Markets are still an important meeting point of the rich and the poor, the young and the old, the religios and the secular ,the natives and the newcomers - all looking for a bargain.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Atidim's "Silicon Valley" and Salsa at the Mall

Atidim compound ( its full name: Kiryat Atidim) has developed gradually into what is now considered the "Silicon Valley" of Israel. It is located in an area called Ramat Hahayal  (north-eastern neighborhood of Tel -Aviv district),  at the intersection of two long, wide streets: Devora Hanavia and Raoul Wallenberg. The compound was established in the 70's by a company owned in equal parts by Tel Aviv municipality and Tel Aviv University.

the intersection

the entrance yellow sign

building nr.1

high towers and horizontal buildings

Atidim  has about 100 Hi-Tech companies,and all kinds of businesses  to accommodate this hi-tech industry:   financial institutions (banks, insurance firms), shops, cafes and restaurants, a post office agency, a dental clinique, a kindergarten, a supermarket, a hairdresser's, parking places, a bus terminal, etc... In the vicinity , there's also  a 4-star hotel (Leonardo Hotel).

 'Clal'  insurance tower

Motorola- telecommunications company

I must admit I highly appreciate Hi-tech people and I even, sort of, envy them. They are the cream of  human society, sought after and welcomed almost everywhere in the world. Their working and payment conditions are among the best.

It's rather surprising that we have  a large number of Hi- Tech companies (both local and foreign), as Israel  is far from being an ideal environment.
Like any country of immigrants we're  quite a divided nation, and unlike some other countries, we have serious security and demographic problems. 

On the other hand, the big world outside ( Europe, America) is not so appealing at present, and it probably won't be in the near future, to say the least; so now is the proper time to keep those hi-techists  here and benefit from their presence and knowledge.

nr.3 - the buildings are numbered in blue

good signage everywhwere

I ended my tour of Atidim with a visit to the Ayalon Mall, in the adjacent city of Ramat-Gan(some 15 minutes drive). I fell upon a 'latino dance'  happening. It was a delight to the eyes to watch the youngsters dance salsa on the ground floor with an enthusiastic audience both on the ground floor and upper floor of the mall .I got carried away by the sights and sounds and almost forgot I came to do some shopping.

P.S. - the pink color - due to some wrong setting in my little camera.