Thursday, July 30, 2009

'Digging' at Bezalel market

No one really knows where the good stuff, sold here at ridiculous prices ,comes from. No one dares ask how this merchandise from well-known store chains and top fashion designers has turned up here, and who are these people that sell it. It is believed that there's a worldwide net which gets hold of the fine stock of surpluses. and distributes it , probably by dubious means, to its members in various countries . As for the people who sell it - my favorite place, for instance, is run by a drug addict, quite a character.

The price is a great bargain, but there's work to be done. One has to dig for the precious items deep into piles of clothes displayed both on the outside stands and inside the shops. And, in my case, when I get home I sometimes have to activate my sewing machine and make a few adjustments to the newly purchased items. But every effort is worthwhile. It's such a delight to wear a "Marks & Spencer"outfit , knowing that you paid for it five dollars only ! And I don't wish to know how the stuff got here. There, I said it.

"Bezalel" , a tiny clothing market (also of some home appliances and gifts) is situated in the very heart of Tel-Aviv city, close to its bigger brother, the 'Carmel' general market. It includes a short street and two small lanes. The attached photos were taken in the main street area.

I've received two kinds of reactions to one of the photos (guess which):

Men : ' Oh well, You had to capture only half of her and ruin a good photo'
Women: 'Why on earth did you have to bring in that half milk cow and ruin a good photo'
The truth is I haven't even noticed the 'a la Dolly Parton girl ' when I pointed to shoot. I'm definitely in favor of showing the whole thing. not half of it.

trouble with the nose or with the smell?

she's got lovely Love earrings

religious orthodox women looking for kids' clothing

interesting patch on the pants of the young woman

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The lonely fisherman

catching fish

See the red spot on the steep rock? That's a young man dressed in a red shirt catching fish in the Bistrita (Bistritza) river in north east Romania. The name Bistrita has its origin in the slavic word 'bystrica' meaning serene water. Serene indeed, and not only the water, but the whole landscape surrounding it. It's not the same serenity one experiences at the Dead Sea, for instance, but still ,serene enough for a relaxation vacation and for catching fish.

Anyway, I saw the fisherman from the back and wanted to capture him from the front. So I went up the bridge, but I coudn't see him at all from there. I stretched my arm in the proper direction (where he was supposed to be) with camera face down, and clicked. Got him. (Who says I have no photographic skills? LOL). When enlarged , it is quite a nice picture with a cute , lonely fisherman. I like it.

It so happened that on that day, we had fish (good source for Omega3 oil) and mamaliga (polenta porridge) for dinner. With the local sparkling mineral water , it all tasted great.

road bridge over Bistrita seen from below

the road bridge

the serene waters of Bistrita

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Yungfrau - forever young and cool

Where I live, summers are very hot and humid, so I often try to escape the sticky reality by letting my imagination run freely to cool, icy places I once visited. My favourite in this category is the Yungfrau, in the Swiss Alps. The german word 'yungfrau' is translated as 'virgin'. Indeed, there's a virgin kind of beauty about this highest mountain peak in Europe; all white and impeccable as if untouched. ( Sorry for the poor color quality of the attached pictures- the snow should, of course, be white, not yellow).

When you reach the summit (by clog rail which runs inside the mountain tunnel,) you witness a stunning view: bright blue skies, white snow capped mountains, the sun shining from above (sunglasses - a must). You feel you're on the Top of the world ,not only on the top of Europe, and that's a terrific feeling. The Yungfrau range of mountains has in fact three giant peaks, but only the highest among them bears the name of Yungfrau , and it is below this peak that trains arrive from the nearby charming little town called Interlaken, a well-known resort in the area.

Yungfrau with its snow, ice, and glaciars is the perfect place to dream about in these torrid days.

Oh, dear God , please have mercy upon our souls and send us now some of that mountain blessed coolness, so that we can enjoy the outdoors , and give up air conditioning, indoors!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Rural Touch

"Don't trust women and don't trust the clutch"- this piece of 'advice' was written on the back of a car in a village I visited recently in north -east Romania. Even in the 21st century, it appears there are still places where people have more confidence in horse -drawn wagons than in cars.

The guy in the first picture was waiting to 'upload' me in his rudimentary horse- drawn cart and take me to the village where I was supposed to meet with an old, confined to bed member of his family, someone who ,as a young peasant lass , used to come to the small town of my childhood, to help my mother clean the house and do the laundry.

Short after the ride started, the horse raised his tail and ...released a very bad smell in our direction. I looked at the driver; he seemed cool. Well, he's probably used to it, but I was almost asphixiated.

Anyway, after a few minutes I felt better and started to enjoy the green scenery around, the vast, open spaces with or without sheep and cows, humming to myself the only line I knew from a song that mentions horse and carriage: Frank Sinatra 's " love and marriage, love and marriage go together like a horse and carriage" . I was not very comfortable. I had to hold on to the man's arm with one hand , and to the bench I was sitting on ,with the other one, but neverheless I felt great. Besides, the ride was in a gentle tempo and lasted only about twenty minutes.

vast green fields

A couple of hours later, after exchanging kisses and presents with the target woman , and eating a copious meal with incredible dishes served by her daughter-in-law , I was to go back to town with the guy's niece in an even simpler cart (the third picture), as he was in a hurry to get to a wedding in an adjacent village. Well, it was me , the big adventurer, who insisted on a full cart journey, so I had to take what came along. This time it was even funnier. Me and the niece behaved like two bad schoolgirls shouting nasty words at the poor horse (I''m so ashamed!) , laughing , and leaving to God to protect us from the poor country road.

Back at the hotel, I thought about the horse. What a hard life the poor animal has, what an exploited creature, pulling people and loads in any weather. There are probably cases of malnutrition and general maltreatment too. I hope there's an association somewhere representing horse rights as there is for human rights, only something far more efficient.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Joyful evening at the Fortress

Place - the medieval fortress 'Cetatea' (the citadel) on a high hill overlooking the city of Brasov. It has four towers, a canon, and a 81 m deep well in the courtyard, weapons hanged on walls, statues of warriors.
The occasion - dinner at the restaurant of the citadel followed by a performance of a troupe of artists from the local Opera House of the city of Brasov. The place was packed with tourists sitted at tables on both sides of a long hall.

Well, the food was delicious, the wine opened the senses widely, and we were all happily waiting
for the main dessert - the artistic performance with arias from well known operas, choreography with a pair of dancers, and fine instrumental music.

I liked it all, the music, the voices, the dances - except for one thing - the way the three male opera singers looked. They were out of shape (the belly stood out) and dressed in a sort of depressive outfit. The younger among them
was dressed adequately for his love duets with the soprano, but the size of the tuxedo was big on him so he looked lost in it, and his shoes had ridiculously long, sharp tips (The three didn't know I'll be in the audience LOL..) .

the senior singer

the middle-aged singer

the junior singer, in a duet with the soprano

Apart from that, everything was just fine, considering the fact that the performers (for whom it was a way of earning some extra money) didn't have here the optimal stage conditions available at the Opera House in town.

the red-head mezzosoprano

the dancers

The programme ended with the orchestra playing some dance music to allow the guests of the restaurant to engage in dancing. Medieval walls or not, the happening within these walls was modern and lively.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The nuns' silent neighbouress

Ashes, dust, will remain of you
As this has always been the rule
Nothing brings you into this world
Nothing takes you away from it
Nothing of you will remain behind

Veronica Micle
4.v111 1889

(free translation from romanian - june 2009)

On one of the hottest days of last June, facing the tombstone of the young beautiful poetess Veronica Micle, I felt a deep sadness penetrating my soul. What a loss of talent and beauty ! I think the words, engraved on her stone, refer to the physical aspect of things . She herself left behind two daughters, poems, prose , admirers.- that's certainly no Nothing.

Veronica committed suicide two months after her lover (the great romanian poet Mihai
Eminescu) died. She was burried in a tiny garden at the Varatec Monastery. This all women's monastery (with about six hundred nuns), surrounded by meadows and forests , housing fine paintings and furniture, always attracted writers, poets and scholars who found here the proper atmosphere for rest and creative work - and in Veronica's case, final peace.

Veronica and Eminescu, whom she lovingly called Emin, first met at her house where she hosted a literary salon. After the death of her husband (thirty years her senior), the two came close to each other planning to marry but , for some reason , it didn't happen. They both died in their late thirties.

There's some new material (letters) recently released by descendants of the Micle family, and it will probably serve as the basis of a great literary, romantic movie.


view of Veronica Micle's grave -( june 2009)

the main entrance to the monastery (hidden by the van)

nun selling products of the monastrey's own bakery (2009)

people visiting the convent - (june 2009 )

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Greetings from Vlad Dracul (Dracula)

Dracula - portrait

Bran Castle on top, souvenir market at the bottom

Dracula as a 'sex symbol' (postcard)

Vlad Dracul, who inspired the Dracula vampire movies, was a real figure in romanian history of the 15th century. As prince of Wallachia he had his headquarters at Bran Castle on the top of a high rock overlooking the charming city of Brasov.

At the foot of this rock , there's now a souvenir market based on the images of Dracula and the castle. His face is printed on almost any imaginable and unimaginable item: T-shirts, cups, magnets, postcards, paintings, sculptures, keychains, dolls, wooden-boxes, tableware pieces, masks, etc...

I knew from history lessons that Vlad Dracul the third was considered a brave soldier who fought against the Turk and German invaders , as well as a just and efficient ruler. Nevertheless, on my recent visit in the area I was rather surprised by the affection people have for his personality and by the enthusiasm with which they talk about him. Surprised , because after all , Vlad Dracul ('dracul' meaning 'the devil' in romanian) was a cruel , ruthless man.

His post-mortem name Tepes (pronounced:Tzepesh) originated in his favorite weapon
- the stake. Impalement was his preferred method of torture and execution of opponents and of people disobeying the rules, hence the name of Dracula the Impaler. They say he was concerned quite a lot with woman chastity. Adulterous wives and maidens who lost their virginity were punished by his famous method of impalement. Brrrrrrrrrrr!

The romanians acknowledge all that, and present horror shows from his activities. Yet they do try hard to soften this side of his character by claiming that it was impossible to maintain order without heavy punishment of the bad guys , and that the Germans who hated Vlad, were those who invented and promoted his image as a blood thirsty prince and vampire.

Anyway, while there, I bought some souvenirs asking the vendor to pack them carefully as they were for presents. 'And what's for you' , he asked . 'Nothing' I said . 'I took some pictures of the castle, and as for Dracula, I could think of some nicer men with friendlier faces to look at' . 'He could be revengeful, you know, visit you in your dreams', warned me the vendor.

Well, I don't want him in my dreams, do I. So, to be on the safe side, I decided to have a round magnet with Dracula's face on it . I think I'll stick it on the front door of the fridge hoping his face will keep me away from opening it too often , and thus help me with the diet I need after eating the terrific food in Dracula's kingdom.