Friday, July 26, 2019

Summer Street Fashion

Our summers are very hot, with high humidity in certain regions and extreme dryness in other; this calls for a sort of "loose"  street fashion style.

During summer days, the dominant sight has always been  one of half-naked people: bare shoulders, arms and legs. Favorite clothing items: shorts and sleeveless, strapless tops.

Nowadays , however, people are more aware of the sun's damage to the skin,   Besides, one has to walk only a short distance from the air conditioned car or bus to the airconditioned office or mall; so shorts are gradually been replaced by airy skirts or thin pants, and fewer backless tops are seen around.

Cotton is the best fabric for summer clothes; it's breathable, light, sweat absorbent ,and comfortable. There are various types of cotton ; a good cotton has a cooling effect on the body.

.My very favorite is the stuff manufactured in India. I've got an array of breezy indian- made cotton skirts, and some adequate t-shirts;   they make me feel each year that I'm more than ready to meet Summer. (For travel, I'll usually replace the skirt with thin pants made of cotton or rayon).  Here's a selection of my summer outfits:

thin rayon pants

As for accessories - not much is needed : a hat (made of cotton or natural straw), sunglasses, and sandals. 

In summer, we are usually lighter in  body weight ; so, coupled with the lightweight clothes upon us - we may sometimes feel we are at the top of the world.

Friday, July 12, 2019

"Trouble in Paradise"

On Wednesday night (July 10th) a sudden , out of nowhere, terrifying hail storm, hit Halkidiky peninsula , leaving seven dead people, dozens of others injured , and  huge damage.   According to the locals it was an "unprecedented phenomenon", "a weather bomb". Halkidiki (also spelt Chalkidiki), near the greek town of Thesaloniki - is popular for its beaches and hotels, so most of the casualties were tourists.

There were no specific warning signs which could enable alertness and preparedness (except, perhaps, a hint from the unusual heat waves Europe is going through now). 
That's the worst case scenario - bad things happening suddenly like with earthquakes. Is this the big news of Climate Change? Sudden, abrupt, deadly? 

The above piece of news reminds me of a conversation I once had with a farmer living under the Vesuvium volcano. The authorities, he believed, were keeping an eye on the volcano's activity and constantly planning  the safety of the local farmers. Well, nowadays, with all this climate change, the volcano might erupt suddenly and forcefully, 'forgetting' to give any signs of its intentions to the  monitoring authority...

on the edge of the Vesuvio crater

Anyway, we should pay attention to these  places: islands and peninsulas; this is where climate change is and will be seen at its worst.

Saturday, July 6, 2019

An Unsolved WW 2 Mystery

It wasn't there two years ago when I visited the spot. 
I  went nearer to contemplate it. No inscription. So, for a change, that was no memorial of some kind,  just an environmental exibit made of stone and marble. Beautiful. 
Behind it,  a bakery/ coffee shop with chairs and tables outside. There were no customers because of the heat. I couldn"t even take some decent pictures because of the strong sun.

face and back (identical) of the exhibit

sides (identical) of the exhibit

empty chairs at the coffee shop

At the far end of the street, however, there was the monument dedicated to the swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg who had rescued thousands of people (mostly hungarian jews)  from the Holocaust. The street was named after him: a long, busy street in a respectable, high-tech tel avivian neighborhood called 'Atidim' ('Futures').

statue with face overlooking  Raoul Wallenberg street

Nearby, a beautiful park with a lot of facilities.  (There is a park on the opposite side of the street too).

park (toilets)

The monument (unveiled in June 2002)  looked rather gloomy. The diplomat's fate was also gloomy. 74 years after his disappearance in 1945, and nobody knows for sure what has happened to him.

jogger from the park approaching the back of the statue

monument seen from across the street

Many cities in the world (New York, Budapest, London, Buenos Aires,) have erected statues in his memory. However, little was done by the world to search for him. It was convenient for them all to  accept the theory  that he had died in a soviet prison.

Only two swedish women - his sister Nina and his niece Nane Annan (the wife of Kofi Annan , the african  from Ghana,  former UN general secretary) spared no effort to try and find the truth. Apparently with no success. ׂ(his half brother Guy van Dardel and   two US - based researchers should also be mentioned).
His disappearance in January 1945, remains one of the unsolved mysteries of World War 2.

Monday, June 24, 2019

No Mezuzah at McDonald's

I was quite surprised when I first learnt that the franchise owner of McDonald's chain in Israel was Omri Padan. The guy was known as an extreme anti-religious, left-oriented political activist. That could theoretically mean that some 25%-30% of potential customers would not go to McDonald's eateries.

the very first McD  , opened at Ayalon Mall ,Ramat-Gan in 1993

 McD's in my hometown -on  ground floor of  building 

But what do I know? The triangle of business, religion, politics is indeed a very tricky one, and yet it seems Padan (now Dr Padan) has successfully played his cards. McDonald's Israel is an empire.

Anyway, I like the McDonald's concept (all of it - food, system, social experience).
What I do not like when I happen to be there, is the fact that there's no 'mezuzah' sitting on the entrance doorpost . Almost every house and shop in this country has a 'mezuzah' affixed to its doorpost. It's a tradition, a nice  one, if you ask me.

copper made mezuzah on the local Supermarkets's doorpost

A 'mezuzah' is a case, a holder (usually decorative) containing a piece of parchment with  hand-written biblical verses on it. It's supposed to protect and bless  the house and its people. 

case and scroll 

The case comes in various materials:  plastic, wood, metal, ceramics, silver, porcelain - the two last mentioned being more expensive. Everything goes.

ceramics and metal cases

metal cases (aluminium, bronze, copper)

The most important part, though, is the scroll to be placed within the case. 
It must be hand-calligraphed with verses from Deuteronomy that start with "Hear o Israel, the Lord our God,  the Lord is One".

A genuine scroll is usually not sold at a souvenir shop but at a judaica one, and could be quite expensive.
After a while (several years) it has to be checked for faded or deleted letters, spot or crease;if this is found,  the scroll will be considered faulty and will have to be replaced.

scrolls of different sizes

Sometimes, a 'mezuzah' gets stolen; the thieves are looking for authentic, high quality scrolls. Because of that, there are buildings where the 'mezuzah' is placed on the inner side of the entrance door.(In a house or office there's a 'mezuzah' on every door - except bathroom and toilets).

ceramics - inner room

metal- utility room

wood - balcony

As someone has remarked:"if it can't even protect itself from thieves, it can't protect the house either"   Food for thought. Perhaps it was a faulty mezuzah.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Cork ( city, tree, material)

Cork, the city in Ireland, is on my bucket list. They say it sits on an island in the middle of a river (Dee River). It's the second largest city of Ireland and it is highly cosmopolitan. Moreover, it is the starting point of a trip to the port of call for the famous Titanic ship before it left for its tragic end.  
How cool is that?!

Cork - the irish colorful city  (Web picture)

The cork tree (oak tree Queros Suber) is a predominant tree species in Portugal. (There are some fascinating pictures of these trees on the Web worth viewing!).
When I visited Portugal, many years ago, I  knew almost nothing about the tree and its end product. I don't even recall touristic information on cork as important income source for this country.

cork tree (web picture)

Cork, the layer of bark harvested from the cork oak, is a natural, sustainable  material with lots of good uses.
I've got some small cork items at home (coasters, stoppers, pot bottom plates, lids, and even shoes- the inner sole). I want some more, but... there are only few shops that deal with cork in my area, and they are not nearby. Looking on their online sites, I've got put off by the prices. Cork , both the material and the finished items are imported, and thus, not cheap.

cork plant pot

cork magnet with pencil on the fridge door

cork  bulletin board

cork asian figurine with straw hat and necklace

set of ceramics for tea/coffee/sugar with cork lids

cork coasters

the tin side of the above coasters

three cork trivets 

two cork lids and two cork wine bottle stoppers

tiny former honey jar and its cork lid

Cork reminds me of another  natural,  echo-friendly material with practical uses, but... expensive -  bamboo. Bamboo furniture, for instance, is solid, yet easy to handle and  take care of. It is ideal for young couples who move often, and perfect for people of the third age for whom wood is too heavy.
We succomb to plastic in the end .
One should do something about that, so that we choose the right options for both us and the planet.

Anyway, if and when I go to Portugal again, I know what I'll fill my suitcase with.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Ramla, Lydda, and...Honor Killing

The names Ramla and Lydda belong to two central  little towns, adjacent, and similar in structure, size, and population.
Ramla 's known for its White Tower, Lydda (Lod - modern name) is home to the israeli Ben-Gurion international airport.

(Pls. type the name Ramla in the search box, and you get to my posts on the White Tower and the  Ramla-Lod market).

The White Tower of Ramla

Both towns have a significant arab minority (centered mainly around the old part of the city), and that expresses itself in the history, religion, architecture, and culinary aspects of the place.

muslim women at Ramle open market 

Despite  their central position ,interesting history,  several touristic attractions, and a famous  market -  non-residents keep away from visiting the two towns, unless strictly neccessary. The reason - violence - as a result of drug transactions , and/or aimed against arab women, on the ground of protecting  'family honor' . Sometimes, an innocent passerby might get hurt or even killed during a murder deed or a fight.

Yesterday, I went to Lod by train, and from the train station took the bus to the old town. This part of town has a bus terminal, a small city market which gets bigger on Tuesdays with the addition of a flee market, religious institutions, archeological remains. 
It was at midday,  the heat was scorching and as I was dressed in black I totally attracted  the sun rays. Not a very pleasant feeling.

city market - apparently renovated

city market  

at the end of market street - an in indian jewish synagogue

across the synagogue - the ruins of an ancient soap factory

the 3-language explanatory tin sign near the soap factory

back to back ;  mosque in the background

Across the parking lot  seen in the above picture - there's an alley with a holy muslim place (entrance forbidden) and a greek church which is visited by tourists.

the alley - tourists in and out of  the greek church

 door of the greek church; above, stone plate with greek inscription 

Coexistence of religions gives much hope. A bit further, near the mosque there is a church and a synagogue. The last two even have a common wall!! Peace and coexistence are said to reign in this place. Nice, isn't it?

the trio: mosque between the church and synagogue.

In spite of technology and education, the issue of family 'honor killing' (domestic violence) is still valid.  Rumors can be enough to tarnish family reputation, and trigger an honor killing . 
In March this year, a bride- to- be was shot and killed  in Lod,one day before her wedding!  How very tragic!

young muslim woman in jeans and...head cover - in Lod

muslim girls chatting in Ramla's covered market.

There were several tiny things on my route that brightened up reality:a painted plant pot,  a mural with a camel at the bottom of a building, a painted phone cable box, an old building with some special windows,  a nice door gate.

plant pot outside the church's door

painted phone cable box

lively mural with camel and sands

beautiful black gate door

old structure with interesting window design

At the end of the tour, before heading home, I treated myself to a turkey meat schawarma (schawarma - meat roasted on a revolving spit, and then 'shaved' to be put  with salad, hummus, tachine, fries in a pita/baguette/lafa/or on a plate.). Life is good!