Monday, May 22, 2017

Khat - from Yemen to Israel

fresh khat leaves*

The 'khat' plant (khat is pronounced 'gat' in hebrew) is a stimulant and appetite suppressor. The plant is native to Yemen, Ethiopia, Somalia, and it was brought to Israel by jews of yemenite descent. It was, and still is  in some neighborhoods inhabited primarily by yemenite jews, part of their tradition to sit together for several hours (men and women apart), chewing the oval shaped leaves of this plant, and socializing.


bunch of khat leaves*

During the recent years , the juice extracted from the plant has become a Hit. Chewing khat in leaf form is legal in Israel, but as for the juice, its status is not very clear, and that has allowed people to use this fact to make a profit by selling it at kiosks, certain eateries and  restaurants.


khat juice*

Neither the leaves nor the juice are cheap; in fact it's an expensive habit, but people will pay any price for the promises that khat  chewing or khat juice carry: weightloss, virility, increased energy etc..(it reminds us of another mild narcotic - marijuana). Its main dangerous feature for the consummer, besides possible addiction, is raise in blood pressure with all that is associated with it (stroke, heart attack).


field of khat shrubs*


Anyway, the 'khat'  growers and traders in Israel are reporting an increase in demand for the leaves; among the new users - quite a lot of women (weightloss ?!!).  

The other day, I saw an article from TIME  on the internet with the following  headline  :" Is Yemen chewing itself to death?" Interesting article, dealing with the negative influence of chewing 'khat' on the society and economy of Yemen. The situation there is extreme, but even in Israel  and the UK this khat chewing is certainly not a blessing.


*web pictures

Sunday, May 14, 2017

The Bent Tree and the Old Lady


The above tree grows within a small square with soil in the pavement. Behind it - two supermarkets with people of all ages coming  and going. In front of it - parked cars; across the street - a children's playground.

I' ve heard a rumour that the municipality intends to remove the tree, but that there are some protests against this intention. The protesters claim that the tree is some sort of an attraction , odd attraction, even dangerous, but still...it has become the icon of the place.


Anyway, lately, when I  happen to see this tree (it's in an adjacent town), it reminds me of  an elderly lady that lives on my street. Last time I saw her I noticed  her back had become so bent that her head almost touched her feet (I think it's called kyphosis and has a lot to do with osteoporosis and loss of height; it could also be genetic). 

I once had an argument with her late husband after which I 've decided to keep away from both of them, so I'm not familiar with the cicumstances of her condition.  I've heard, though, among neighbors, that she's otherwise ok , and that she lives alone with no assisting caregiver at home, except maybe some weekly house cleaning maid. 

According to neighbors, her two married  daughters that live in a nearby town, are trying hard to persuade her to move to another location/ facility, as there are some stairs to climb to her appartment and this climbing is not for her any longer (she's well over 80, I believe). However, so far she has refused to do so; she's very fond of her home and surroundings.

Well, both the tree and the lady are a reminder that we should all be thankful to God every day for keeping us on our feet , upright, and functioning. Nothing, absolutely nothing, can be taken for granted, and it is appalling to realize how helpless medicine is about a lot of  health issues.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Ein Hod ; Nisco and his Musical Boxes




When we left the druze village of Daliat El Carmel, on our way down the Carmel mountain to the artists' village of Ein-Hod, we passed through  another druze village , named Osafia. It is believed that this is where the big, massive fire of December 2010 started and burned down much of the Carmel forest.

The above fire has caused many casualties and a lot of damage.It has also reached Nisco's  museum of mechanical music located at the entrance to Ein-Hod artists' colony.  The museum houses a private, unique collection of mechanical music devices accumulated by Nisco (Nisan Cohen) over 45 years. 

web photo - the fire got to the  small museum and caused damage

Anyway, now, six and a half years  after the fire, the little museum continues its activity of tours and concerts taking place regularly at the spot.  It is a bit off the beaten track, and there are a few stairs to climb to the entrance (apparently no easy access for people with disabilities, if at all). However,it's kind of a "gem" , a place for all ages, and well worth a visit.
At the entrance (also exit) there's a small shop. where one could buy mementos relevant to the items and themes of the museum.

stairs up to the entrance of the museum

the  shop

inside the shop

wooden boxes; you can buy one and make your own music

Downstairs, the museum, looks dull and simple with plastic chairs for the audience - but it's the musical devices and the presenter (the owner) that make it come alive and interesting. The collection comprises: musical boxes, gramophones, a 170 year old organ, a concertina, phonographs, manivelles, hand operated automatic piano , old records ,you name it ...




The owner of the collection - Nisco, a charismatic gentleman of over eighty, with an american accent and a dog which seems very attached to him - conducts the show. He does so with humor and jokes, interracting with the public during his explanations and musical demonstrations. Sometimes, he uses his singing voice which is quite a pleasant one.

Nisco in action

Nisco goes from one musical device to another to explain things

Primar, the latest aquisition - organ from Belgium

The museum tour lasted about an hour and it was all fun and pleasure.