Saturday, December 29, 2018

Good Things That Might Happen in 2019

According to the Media, tiny Luxemburg is to become the first country in the world to make its public transport - free.  That would be a very smart move, worthy to be followed by other small countries with  limited territory and lack of natural resources.
The advantages of such a move are enormous: it would ease congested traffic and make the roads safer,  improve ecology, and above all - improve people's health. 

Cannabis is gradually getting legalized in various parts of the world. It's a positive direction, and it should include as many countries as possible. I'm in favor of legalization of this plant which is said to have the potential of easing the suffering of the sick (cancer/ parkinson patients and others). They say, it is not addictive like alcohol, and not harmful like smoking.

Egypt's president, El-Sisi, has recently launched a rhetorical 'attack' on the overweight in his country and told egyptians they should take better care of themselves. Opposition to his words is loud, invoking poverty, junk food, faulty health care, and the other usual slogans; but his clear voice on the matter is a start, a good one, even though he might do nothing practical about it.
It seems El-Sisi is the right guy  in the right place who might bring about significant changes in his country (including the issues of obesity and the alarming birth rate), setting an example to the other countries in his continent.

Scientific researches  of the last couple of years might give us, in 2019, a clue as to the workings of the human mind. It's quite a mystery when a person who has it all: career, family, money, love,  - takes his own life (recent case in my country), and leaves family and all around him utterly devastated and grieving. We need some more insight into that super computer - the brain- to be able to prevent, perhaps, this kind of tragedy.

Happy 2019!

Thursday, December 20, 2018

The Bracelet and Yemeni safest place for Jewelery

I've got an old , simple bracelet. It's not gold, but I like it. In fact I like it so much that I've recently decided not to wear it any longer for fear of losing it (It disappeared a while ago, and it reappeared miracoulously  just when I lost all hope of finding it again).

The bracelet was bought many years ago in a little shop , on the edge of the city market. The shop owners, father and son, dealt mainly with jewelery bought from immigrants and inheritance.  It was a popular shop, for one could buy there a real bargain and even get a blessing, style "you should never have to resell it".
The shop no longer exists. 

There's only one more shop of that kind known to me; it's bigger, more expensive, and located in the heart of the city. The owners, two twin brothers, are skillful jewelery makers and... rather shrewd merchants. Part of the items acquired by them are not sold in their original form but undergo some slight transformation that enables the two brothers to demand a higher price.

Anyway, my bracelet,  safely kept now,  has some strange sort of fascination upon me. Hard to explain . There's something about it, something indefinable that appeals to me.Perhaps its simplicity of design, its light weight , its minimal chic as a fashion accessory or all these things together.

Speaking of safety, it's not unusual to see elderly women, especially of yemeni descent, wearing their jewelery (rings, bracelets, earrings, necklaces - mostly silver made) on their body, almost all the time. They'll tell you and even argue with you that your body is... the safest place for it, not the hidden safe on the wall.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Buy, Keep, Give away...

People buy things all the time, but before holidays, it becomes madness.  The good news is that the urge to buy  can be controlled just like the urge to overeat.  People, however, seem more interested in controlling things they cannot control, like the weather, for instance.

Those who do not participate in the shopping race will say, 'Hey! what do you need all this stuff for; remember, you'll take nothing with you when you leave this world'. True, though it wasn't entirely so in antiquity, and that reminds me of the archeological museum in Heraklion (Crete greek island).

entrance to the Archeological Museum in Heraklion (2016)

Heraklion has one of the finest archeological museums in Europe (it's a Must when visiting the island). At the museum, my attention was caught by the display of a great variety of personal belongings and tools found in people's graves. Also decorations and worship figurines. The ancient Cretans actually believed they'll need all this stuff in afterlife, and demanded to be burried with them.

miniature works of ivory, gold, semiprecious stones




Back to our modern times .
Over the years, following decluttering, many accumulated items will be discarded, donated, sold   by the owners or their heirs ( the latter will usually concentrate first on what can be turned into some profit: house, art, jewelery).

Apropo heirs - Inheritance might cause them a lot of 'headache' about what to keep and what to give away or sell . Some inherit "overloaded" houses, others, houses with few possessions. In both cases they have doubts as to what to keep and what to dispose of.
I think perhaps parents can make it easy for them by leaving clear instructions or...clear houses.

A friend of mine  whom I've always known as a dedicated daughter, discarded or sold after her mother's passing, even items that had sentimental value.
That was not like her at all and, I was rather surprised (she had also offered me some items).  When I asked her why, she blamed it on pressure from what she called ,'her insensitive husband', who favored only space and money.  I believed her, and yet, I was disappointed in her. 

I thought it was not fair to the memory of her Mom (single mother, divorced after only five years of marriage) who worked  hard  to achieve all those things left behind .

Wednesday, December 5, 2018



We met at a summer course, and  became friends despite the big age gap beteen us.  She was older and wiser than me, married to an english born gentleman, mother to two charming  teenagers .
A few years later, I left town, and that was it;  we completely lost touch.

 In  March of this year (the month is significant to the story), I happened to be in her neighborhood, and I noticed that their modest  one level house had been replaced by an elegant 2-storey building. I stood near the gate for a while not knowing what to do with myself as I felt the need to talk to somebody. Luckily, a woman came out of the building. I approached her , introduced myself , told her that  many years ago, I knew the owners of the place, and  added that I would appreciate if she could give me some information.

She seemed reluctant to talk to me; however, she uttered three short but valuable sentences. She said : 'she had never met the old couple'; 'she believed they were not alive at the time of the house's sale'; 'her family bought the house from the grandchildren' .
I thanked her and went away.

Back home, I googled the city cemetery list to find out age and date of death. The wife, 85 years old, died in March 2011; the husband, 90, a month later. Well then, I said to myself: they had reached a respectable age... and was about to light candles in their memory.

Something was bothering me, though. The woman said her family had bought the house from the grandchildren; What about the two children, where were they? I decided to 'dig' things further. Browsing, I came upon a family tree, and....deep, uncontrollable, sadness overcame me. Both children were gone long before the parents: the daughter at 32, the son at 41.   Instead of two candles, I lighted four.(We're  celebrating Hannuka feast this week, and I'm lighting candles , so this has brought back to me the sad memory).

That's the  horrific side of longevity; parents might get predeceased by one or more of their children. In our society, it happens quite often as life expectancy has increased during the last decades, but so has the number of accidents and diseases that kill the young ones. It has happened in my family too.

I suppose  what has kept the above mentioned couple alive for so many years after the two tragedies, are the grandchildren. 
However, I know that in some cases, bereaved  parents find no consolation  in grandchildren; in other cases  grandchildren find it hard to cope with this unnatural situation of parent(s) dead and grandparent(s) alive,  and estrange themselves from the latter. 

Tragic from any angle one looks at it.  Life is certainly not all wine and roses.

* web picture

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

A Voice in the Night

Middle of the night. I got awaken from my sleep by a woman's voice repeatedly calling (in hebrew): 'where are you' , 'where are you'.
It was creepy. I had no idea where exactly the voice came from: the street? the garden?the adjacent parking lot? it sounded like a voice coming from an alien world. 

After a few minutes, it occured to me that, perhaps, the voice belonged to a woman with dementia or alzheimer who had escaped, unnoticed from the nearby assisted-living facility (which has also a memory care wing), and was looking for her personal carer. I decided to call the police in our area  and ask them to urgently deal with the matter.

The police were quick. I looked out of the window and was relieved to see the blue flashing light of their car .   After about 5 minutes the nagging voice stopped, and I went back to bed.

The next day I made enquiries. She was found sitting on the garden stone edge, behind a car. It appeared I was only partially right. The woman had indeed dementia, but she wasn't a resident of the assisted living facility.  The police kept her for a while at the station until  family phoned to report her missing. The incident was brought to the attention of the Social Services.

Well, I was glad that it all ended  with no physical harm done to the poor woman. 

*- web picture - logo of dementia campaign

Monday, November 19, 2018

Stari Grad

So many  beautiful and interesting things to see in Stari Grad , the old town of Belgrade!  'Old town' - actually refers here to the area of the city center; it's not 'old town' in the traditional sense  as we know it from other places.

The above area  includes among other things, government buildings,  pedestrian and shopping street Knez Mihailova (one kilometer long!), the cobbled bohemian street Skadarlija (once the gathering point of poets), the National Museum (under never ending renovation works) with the the equestrian statue of prince Mihailo Obrenovic'  in front of it (famous meeting place for locals and tourists), galeries, fountains, parks, cultural institutions, hotels, you name it.

National Assembly of Serbia 

Assembly of the city of Belgrade (Old royal Palace)

  the Pioneers' park,  path leading to the Old Palace

in the background - National Assembly of Serbia 
Knez Mihailova street

cobbled street, Skadarlija
Knez Mihailova street is filled with people from sunrise to sunset. It is home to two(2) tourist information offices where one can get a good map of the city, the serbian Academy of Science, the Goethe
Institute, Zepter museum of contemporary art, and of course, shops and restaurants.

Delijska drinking fountain on Knez Mihailova

selling art on Knez Mihailova

me, a bit tired, contemplating the human flow

publicity  event on the Knez Mihailova street
The impressive building of the National Museum (with the reddish color, near the National Theater) and the  horse rider, are fenced, and there's no access to them because of renovation works.

National Museum of Serbia

statue of prince Mihailo Obrenovic'  on the horse

The statue of the equestrian prince- famous meeting point in the Republik square- has stairs at its basis. On top of them,  a bronze base  supporting the statue, covered with bas-reliefs depicting scenes from serbian history.
The cobbled street Skadarlija, home to some famous restaurants and cafes, as well as a few art galleries, is known also as the bohemian quarter.

waiting for customers;  rich little stand of souvenirs


statue of some notable bohemian fellow

Hostel Skadarlija Sunrise

pigeons like it here

statue resembling a tree trunk
'Stari Grad' - two short words that have a nice ring, and  'cover' a lovely area of Belgrade.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Of Malls, Markets, and a pink Bra

I visited several malls in the serbian capital, but liked only one of them - the  Delta City mall.

Delta City Mall

Housed in an attractive, blue, modern circular structure, Delta City mall seems to be above the average. It is smaller (ground + two floors), but less crowded and noisy than Usce (near the bridge to the new city) and  Rajiceva (on the pedestrian shopping street Knez Mihailova).

Rajiceva  Mall  (on Knez Mihailova street)

Usce  Mall

Delta City  offers good stuff at affordable prices.(I bought an embroidered cotton top and a small umbrella for travel, and was very pleased both with the quality and the price). Delta has a McDonalds and KCF, a cinemaplex, a  supermarket (Maxi discount chain),cafe-restaurant for gourmet customers, shops (with domestic & international brands), bank, pharmacy, shiny toilets, murals,  and more.

murals on the wall leading to the toilets

Everything about this mall is in good taste (except, perhaps, the pink Bra... painted at the bottom of the mirror in the ladies' room of the toilets. Where are the feminists?! just kidding; it doesn't bother me and probably nor the other women visitors). 

see `pink bra painted on  the mirror bottom in the toilet room

live fish at Roda's mall big supermarket dept. nice attraction.

The city green markets (pijaca = market) are all structured in the same 'trio' manner: stalls with fresh veggies and fruit, stalls with clothing, and stalls with household / miscellaneous items. They differ a  little in size , quality and prices, according to location mainly (for example, the open-air market 'Bajiloni', at the end of the touristy, bohemian cobbled street Skadarlija - its prices are , methinks,  a bit more 'tourist oriented').  

The biggest  of the city markets seems to be 'Kalenic' which is located in the district of St. Sava church and Tesla museum (I went on foot from the museum  along the street which ends at the market;  quite a distance!). 

Bajiloni (in Skadarlija) market entrance (see the green sign)

 market entrance Sign with activity hours of Zeleni Venac

Most of the city markets have a bakery ('pekara' in serbian),cheese and meat shops/or trailers, some fast food eatery, and nearby - a discount supermarket (usually Maxi). 

Zeleni Venac (the oldest) in the heart of the city seen from the outside

miscellaneous items

veggies and fruit stalls

flower stands

When I enter a market I first look for grapes - I'm sickly in love with them. Belgrade markets had a nice supply of both white and black grapes at cheap prices (except the sultanina brand which was more costly).. After  enjoying the sights and  smells of the place, I bought some grapes to fuel my body and soul for the day.

one has to be careful - bag hanging from the neck

Two big markets  - the chinese ('Block 70' on Gagarin street;  big '70' sign over its main entrance), and the somehow isolated market with the outer sign 'Tepih Centar' ( 'tepih' means rug - the sign is probably an ad. for a rug business). These markets, as far as I could see,  sell no agriculture products, only household and clothing stuff. 

I  liked  neither the merchandise (overloaded halls, passages and stalls, which is both exausting and frustrating) nor the atmosphere there. Maybe it was not the right day and time. The Belgrade China Town is closed on tuesdays, I didn't know that and went again the next day. Waste of time; I left empty-handed.

A piquant fact: they say the chinese community in Belgrade is actually a whole chinese village transferred to the serbian capital in the nineties.

exterior of Tepih Centar market seen from the street

The above market, located on a big empty space not far from the Sava river and the Delta City Mall is probably very popular among the locals as it has just about everything one could possibly need (except green, fresh products). For a tourist, with limited time, it's not recommendable. It's discouraging to start looking for some item in such an over dense display of things.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Kalmegedan - Pride of Belgrade

"Start walking along the pedestrian, main shopping street  'Knez Mihailova' in the center of Belgrade;  when you reach its end, cross the street in front of you - and, Voila! you're in the famous park and citadel Kalmegedan". That's exactly what I did.  

Knez Mihailova  pedestrian street

Kalmegedan offers so much, to so many! It offers panoramic views, history, religion, art, fun and leisure - hence its great popularity among all ages!
The place has two zones: lower and upper. Walking paths in both zones make it all accessible and easy.

The lower zone includes main entrance lined with souvenir stalls, toilets, children's  attractions (a dinosaur park), statues, benches, mini wagon train, kiosk, cafe, art exhibition, tennis and basketball grounds near the fortress walls.

mini wagon train waiting for passengers

childrens' dinosaurs little park

kiosk (beverages, cards..)


basketball playground

The variety of serbian souvenirs at the entrance is overwhelming. One could spend   a lot of time  just looking at them.
The park, like the whole city of Belgrade is full of statues. It seems this has to do with former communist regime. In Moscow, I've also noticed a lot of statues erected in honor of  people who played a role in the nation's history.

entrance path lined with souvenir stalls

'loaded'  souvenir stall

statue seen from the entrance path

The upper zone, on the hill - the old fortress, (originally built by the Romans) overlooking the new city and the confluence of Danube and Sava rivers -  layers of walls,  gates / openings, towers - belonging to various time periods;  a military museum, outdoor weaponry display, two little churches, otoman structure, restaurant with terrace, and of course, the famous Victor statue.

to the main gate of the fortress

outdoor weaponry display

otoman structure (closed)

the statue of Victor up the hill

Me, near the piedestal of  'Victor' statue

view of the Danube-Sava rivers confluence


favorite bridge for bride &groom pictures

Despot Stefan tower

After my visit at Kalmegedan,  I regretted  not taking a wagon train ride (the little  train was with parents and kids, and I thought it will distract me from looking around.. Foolish thought, although I do tend to lose my head when in contact with cute kids).
Anyway, Kalmegedan is a place one would gladly visit again.

train on the move