Monday, May 21, 2012

The Triangle

There's this catchy song by Barry Manilow about a romantic triangle against the background of the notorious Bermuda Triangle.

A couple decides "to get away and have some fun". She wants to Bermuda. He's against, warning her that "Bermuda Triangle/It makes people disappear/Bermuda Triangle/Don't go too near".

When in Bermuda, lying on the sand, he suddenly looks up and "sees her with a stranger hand in hand", " ..sitting on his blanket", "..going for a swim", "..running after him". In short,this place 'made his woman disappear'.

Bermuda Triangle is a mystery zone in the Atlantic ocean where ships and airplanes are said to have disappeared , leaving no trace.
There are several theories regarding factors that might be responsible for this kind of disappearance in this particular zone of unusual weather problems:
- magnetic , gravitational or supernatural forces active in the area
- a creature (such as Lockness in Scotland) present in the waters of the triangle
- abduction of the ships and their crew, by extraterestrial beings.

Personally, I believe it's the work of supernatural forces; scientists couldn't come up with some other plausible explanation.
As for the the song, don't worry, it has a happy end. As the guy was lying there lost and lonely, " a lovely stranger says Hello and takes my hand/Now Bermuda Triangle not so bad".

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Let's Get Together - the ability of disability

Park areas and other green zones in the city are usually associated with children and their moms (children play, moms watch) , senior citizens who stop  by to sit on a bench  for some rest, young couples hugging under a tree, joggers and bike riders that practice their favorite sports..

There's also this category of  elderly people bound to wheel-chairs, and their caregivers ; they come here to breath some fresh air, escape loneliness, and interact with other people in the same situation. The green spot is ideal,  as it both relaxes and revitalizes, provides a pleasant setting for chatting and  fun.  One meets these people, especially in the late afternoon or early evening hours.

Most of the caregivers are foreigners, epecially filipinos (the latter are considered more tendered hearted than the israelis - which may be true ,but equally true is that welfare makes  local people lazy ,spoilt, and selective about work -  hence the need to import workers to help with the disabled people).

Though not physically disabled, these  foreign helpers are also in some way 'disabled' , for they are far away from their families, facing language barrier, hard work. and sometimes sexual harassment. They look forward to meet their compatriots in order to share  experiences and information in their native language. Sometimes, they get deep in their small talk, forget about the person in the wheel-chair, and suddenly one hears someone shouting something like :"Look, his head has dropped down...".

(The above photos were taken in the early evening hours ,from distance, as  I didn't want to embarass  or irritate anyone of my intended  'camera objects'.).

Friday, April 27, 2012


I usually notice all those  things that add positive value to our urban environment: a green corner with trees and bushes, a nice bench, an original trash bin, an interesting street mural, a splashing fountain, a  gracious sculpture, an attractive sign or poster, a cute phone booth, an innovative bus stop etc...
(The top picture shows a fish sculpture facing the airport of Eilat).

Unfortunately, people with vandalistic tendencies notice them too and leave their ugly fingerprints upon them.
Eilat , for example, is a touristic resort ; things are being taken care by the municipality ,and if neccessary by the tourist police. Nevertheless, I found this (see  picture below) in the very center of the city. I suppose it used to be a lovely sculpture of a man holding a round trash bin in his arms. The trash bin is there and still very useful, but the head of the man holding it is disfigured.

trash bin (Eilat city)

Near it, there's a standing painting of two chasidic dancers. (Chassidim are orthodox jews who're loyal to a prticular rabbi).  It inspires joy and optimism and puts a smile on our lips. I'm glad vandalism hasn't touched it (yet).

painting- chasidic dance (Eilat city)

I'm also glad the delicate Menorah (a nine branch lampstand used on the jewish  holiday of Hannukkah)  is intact.  It stands on a stone pedestal  in front of a supermarket and a cinema hall, and adds a sort of spiritual touch to the place.

menorah (Eilat city center)

Since the introduction of cellphones in our  life, there are fewer and fewer public phones; and yet, each little or big town has them,  located in central, strategic places - major streets, commercial centers, hospitals, hotels, schools, train/bus stations, airports.
Besides being useful to the public they also look cute, until ...vandalism reaches them.

public phones on commercial street (Ramat-Gan city)

public phone- graffity and scratches (Ramat-Gan city)

                                        public phone near hotel (Mizpe Ramon city)

Vandalism hurts us people because it damages and even destroys things we need and care about; it also costs us tax money to get them fixed. The trouble is that punishment for acts of vandalism is not serious enough.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Red Sea Pearl

I celebrated the first days of our Jewish Passover in Eilat, the popular desert resort at the northern tip of the Red Sea Gulf. The night before our plane arrival in Eilat, two Grad rockets , fired from the egyptian Sinai peninsula, have landed in the city causing big explosions and anxiety, but luckily no casualties and no damage.

Eilat airport located.. in the town center

Eilat, the southernmost city and port of Israel has lots of attractions - most of them for free: sun (as they say, ' everyday here is SUNday'), sea, sand, many beaches to choose from, red mountains, bird watching, shopping centers; some attractions require entrance fee: the underwater Observatory, coral reefs Reserve, dolphin reefs where dolphins interact with swimmers (I've visited the observatory and the reefs on a previous trip).

Eilat museum and art gallery

Hayam Mall- northern beach

Dancing near the mall

The climate here being very hot and dry, most of the time people are at the beach, sunbathing , practicing water sports such as swimming, snorkeling, surfing, diving - or inside the house/hotel/mall/museum and other air-conditioned spots.

on the beach

see the mountains in the background?

I needed a change of scenery and climate, and I fully got that in Eilat. The festive Passover meal (Seder Night) was also quite successful. As for the Sinai missiles, they'll probably 'visit' Eilat again, partly thanks to those wise guys who've encouraged what's poetically yet stupidly called ' arab spring'.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Barak and the Skyscrapers

The israeli Defense Minister , Mr. Ehud Barak ('barak' in hebrew means lightning) has been a lot in the news lately; not because of some outstanding military event or political issue , but because of the sale of his luxurious apartment on the 31st floor of one of the three "Akirov Towers".

The "Akirov Towers" , a three-tower luxury compound, is located in the north part of Tel Aviv, near the intersection of Pinkas and Namir streets. I've seen the complex on various occasions, but I've never been inside the towers. According to the Media, it has security 24 hours a day, a luxurious lobby, spa with pool and Gym , sun balconies, conference hall, underground parking, and a breathtaking view of the city.

What attracts passer-bys' attention are the sharp lines of the three structures, the windows' blue color, and the numbers 62, 64, 66 in the form of a small stone statue in front of the building. ( By the way, Akirov - is the surname of the real estate developer).

Mr Barak wrote on his Facebook Page that he and his wife Nili had decided to sell the apartment because of public criticism. The apartment "created alienation and detachment from the public", he confessed. In a few months they'll be moving to a smaller and less expensive tower.

However, the selling of the house (for 26.5 million israeli shekels) and Barak's confession , haven't stopped criticism. The Media is busy trying to figure out the money profit for him from the transaction , and keep asking unpleasant questions such as how come a person with socialist background like his, becomes so detached from the people he's supposed to represent,
; how does an army officer / someone who has been in public service, has the money to buy such an appartment etc.. etc..

I happen to agree with the criticism. High ranking people should serve as a model of modesty to the public , especially in times of economic decline.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Out Of The Ashes...

A year ago, a massive fire completely destroyed the Ikea store (building and merchandise) near Netanya city. Luckily, there were no casualties as the store was empty when the fire broke out .

The cause of the fire was not clear. Fire investigators were checking some electrical fault near the store's roof. I was under the impression that the fire was deliberately set by someone who wanted the store destroyed, but no injured people. The timing was "perfect" - on Saturday, when the store was closed and no one inside it.

Besides, it looked like someone had "taken care" of the fire detectors . The investigators had no explanation for the fact that these detectors had failed to work. Anyway, the final conclusion was: a short circuit caused by rain water in the electrical system, had brought about the destructive fire.

The store reopened this week, on Tuesday, March 6. Although I was not a frequent customer, I kind of missed my few annual visits there. I like the location - at a major road intersection - its palm trees and nice views of the surroundings.
I'm not very fond of Ikea furniture or textiles , but I do like their smaller items such as lamp shades, kitchen ware, storage gadgets, candles. I also enjoy eating the veggie soup served in a bread loaf, at their restaurant.

palm trees in front of the store

veggie soup in a "bread bowl"

kitchenware stand

So, on Thursday, I paid Ikea a visit to see the store that "emerged from the ashes". The concept is the same, but naturally there are some changes and improvements (especially in the eating areas and in the areas for children activities). The emphasis both outside and inside is on the two vivid, attractive colors dark blue and mustard yellow.

festive rebuilt Ikea

going upstairs

fast food area

gardening department

Ikea is considered a nice, friendly place where adults and children can spend hours shopping, eating, having fun. Let's hope no fire or any other bad thing happens to it again.

Monday, February 27, 2012

"The Doomsday Vault"


Wednesday, 29 February is the Earth Arc Day. On this special day (every four years) people on the Earth planet are encouraged to collect some local seeds, put them in an envelope or bag , and ship them to a seed bank for storage that will ensure preservation of world's diversity of food crops in case of global disaster (climate change, tzunami, plant disease etc). The stored seeds could remain undamaged for decades, and even centuries.

There are some 1500 seed banks around the world, but they are rather vulnerable, for various reasons: mismanagement, lack of funds, energy failure, civil unrest etc.
Svalbard Global Seed Vault (nicknamed 'Doomsday Vault' by the Media), opened four years ago on 26 February 2008 and financed by Norway, is supposed to function as a Back-up for all other seed banks.

Svalbard is an arctic arhipelago ; the seed bank built inside one of its mountains is considered better and safer than the ones in the other parts of the world. The reasons are obvious. The place is remote, far from human threats and dangers (such as wars), it's geologically stable (almost no earthquakes), its climate is freezing (which is optimal for the preservation of seeds ). This seed bank is built deep into the mountain and high above sea level to withstand a nuclear attack or flooding, and is very well guarded.

entrance to Svalbard vault (Web picture)

The seeds (only original samples , not genetically modified ones) are stored behind many locked doors, in sealed air-tight packages put inside sealed plastic boxes. The conditions in this storage facility are monitored both electronically and physically.

boxes with stored seeds (Web picture)

There are some nice, interesting videos on YouTube taking us on a tour to the vault. Here's a short one:

No doubt, a seed bank is a smart concept, Svalbard Vault is a fascinating project. Yet, the whole idea of seed storage is quite thought-provoking. I can't help asking myself this: what if some elite group gets hold of the vault to dominate world's food supply? In case of a global nuclear disaster, what good would these undamaged seeds do if the soil and atmosphere are contaminated with radiation? Let's hope there won't be any nuclear disaster and nothing bad will happen to the vault either.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Flea Market in Old Jaffa

No trip to a country would be complete without a visit to one of its Flea Markets. The Flea Market in old Jaffa, at walking distance from the clock tower square (see previous post), is one of the main attractions of the city, especially to those looking for bargains in antiques and second-hand treasures.

One can spend here several pleasant hours of walking around, exploring, enjoying the unique atmosphere, and having a bite in one of the eateries in the area. It is a great cultural and shopping experience

Before entering the market one should know some basics: here you pay mainly in cash; you have to beware of pickpockets; you can practice your barganing and haggling skills. The place also offers photography opportunities : capture of people , stuff, and curiosities; so bring your camera with you.

The little streets and alleys, east of the clock tower, are packed with merchandise : clothing, rugs, furniture, jewelery, tools, old books and records, toys - you name it they've got it. A lot of junk is displayed on some sidewalks.

If you come early in the day, you may get a good price as the vendor believes the sale will bring him luck through the day (and if it's Sunday - luck through the whole week).

Let's have a few pictures speak for themselves.

light fixtures

lace and clothes

judaica items and jewellery

woman mending a rug in front of her rugs shop

old pictures

second-hand furniture items

small tools

On my last visit to the Flea Market (about two weeks ago), I witnessed a bride and groom having their photo taken in front of a furniture store. Perhaps the shop is family owned and the couple wanted a memento with this location as background to some photos. Anyway, it was a rather cold day, but the bride wasn't shivering. She was happy and eager to follow the photographer's instructions. Love was in the air.

love is in the air

Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Clock Tower Square

Jaffa, one of the oldest port cities in the world. . The tower clock square. I've been here many times, and yet it seems I never have enough of it. I'm attracted to this square by its location( near the Mediterranean sea, beach and promenade), its architecture (stone and arches: window arches, door arches, interior arches), a blend of the religious (mosque, church, synagogue) and the secular ( art galleries, eateries, shops) , and of course, the colorful Flea Market that occupies the narrow side streets that border the square (and which deserves a separate post). Despite the great number of local and foreign tourists visiting the place, an information center was opened only some six months ago?!

sea and promenade

Tourist Information Center

The turkish clock tower erected in 1906 and recently renovated, dominates the entire square. It has four clocks, one on each side; the openings and windows are covered with gratings. Across it, there' s the renovated Saraya (palace in turkish) building and its marble pillars. The Saraya used to be the residence of the turkish governor at the time of the otoman rule.

The turkish clock tower

clock tower and the Saraya with 4 marble pillars

The next point of attraction in the square, is the Abulafia Bakery , famous for its pretzels seasoned with zatar / sesame, and especially for its breads stuffed with mashed potatoes/mushrooms/cheese/boiled eggs/ onions/ olives.
The bakery stands on the same spot since 1879!!
The arab-israeli Abulafia family is also the owner of a reastaurant and a middle-eastern sweets patisserie shop - all on the same street.

The Abulafia Bakery

Pita Bread for sale

Margaret Tayar's fish -based restaurant with its attached terrace overlooking the sea, is a favorite place of gourmet people and celebrities, despite the simplicity of both the setting and the menu. Its specialty is stuffed sardines and north african salads. The food is cooked by the owner, herself.

Tayar's restaurant with its blue fish icon on top

And to conclude with some art, below's the painting of a naked woman.... at the very entrance of an art gallery . People stop in front of it to contemplate the nude, and then enter the gallery to look for more...

Art Gallery