Monthly Archives: January 2014

Sorry seems to be the hardest word

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Israeli TV screens are in the cooking show phase.  This in essence means that at any point during the day or evening the chance of you seeing a cooking show is probably around 60%.  Israelis like food, they like cooking and they like competing so what better way to combine all three and make ratings grabbing telly?  Yep, schedule another cooking competition.  Masterchef is one of the highest rating shows ever in Israel and the competition channel has just started airing a new prime time cooking competition of its own, Game of Chefs.

I am not a great fan of these shows, perhaps if they were in English it would make viewing more palatable (ha ha) but in the interests of research (I write about TV as part of my job) I watched part of an episode of Masterchef a couple of weeks ago and stumbled upon a fellow Brit contestant.  This fella had balls, he didn’t speak much Hebrew and he was merrily auditioning to be on a prime time Hebrew TV show.  I am always in awe of people who couldn’t care less that they don’t speak Hebrew fluently as I am of the mind that its better to stay silent than risk looking a fool.  When the judges came to taste his creation one of them told him to ‘stop saying sorry’ and that to me encapsulated the whole difference between the Brits and the Israelis.  We apologise, they say stop.  They say stop, we apologise.

In fact us Brits say sorry whenever we get the chance.  Someone pushes in front of us in a queue, we apologise, ‘sorry, I was there’.  Someone bumps us on public transport, we apologise.  Someone serves us cold/bad/wrong food in a restaurant, we apologise;’sorry but this is cold/tastes funny/not what I ordered’.  Sound familiar?  Why oh why do we do it.  When we lived in London my husband used to ask me,’why does everyone keep apologising?’.  “Because we are polite”?

Today I fly to Geneva, back to Europe where manners count.  I always wonder whether I have become so Israeli that I will forget to say pardon, or sorry or thank you.  I will make an effort to keep my Britishness and use this weekend as a little update on social etiquette.

So to the land of chocolate, snow and watches.  A heartfelt sorry to the childers and husband who have a weekend to fend for themselves.  I will return, chock full of choc and cold fresh air.  Now, to practise je suis desolee and merci.

Where ever I lay my hat?

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It’s a big year chez nous, 2014.  It’s the year that husband turns 40, it’s the year that no. 1 son starts school, it’s the year that we will celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary and it is 10 years this year since I moved to this sometimes not-so holy Holy Land.  How did that happen?  Where did the time go and why after all this time have I still got one foot (and a half) pointing towards home?

Home, where is that?  After all I counted London as home but I lived there only 9 years. While we were travelling I called our tent ‘home’ and I was perfectly happy that we could pick that home up and take it where ever the whim took us.  If home is where the heart is, do I have 2 homes? And more importantly if you have 2 homes do you ever feel truly ‘at home’ in one of them.

This time last year I was 100% going home (to the UK that is).  I was tired of the difficulties of living in a different language, different culture, different religion  I was exhausted.  I was brow beaten and sick of being an outsider.  No longer at the top of my career but instead unable to find work that suited my skills, language or salary expectations.  Most of all I was tired of hearing people say, ‘make more of an effort to settle’, ‘maybe if your Hebrew was better, why don’t you speak it more’, sick of feeling like nothing I did was enough.  Was it all in my head?  Maybe, but I think that as an ex-pat, especially one who moves to a new language and a different culture you always ask yourself, ‘do I fit in?’ followed quickly in my case with ‘why should I have to?’.

So what now?  It’s 2014, a New Year.  Has anything changed?  Honestly I don’t know.  As in the previous 9 years I have good weeks and bad weeks, good days and bad days although the bad is less in occurrence and in intensity. I feel at home here although it is not, nor do I think it will ever be, ‘home’.  I hope to go back some day, whether it’s in 2014 or in a box in the hold of an aeroplane.  If someone would wave a magic wand or give me a winning lottery ticket to set us up in the UK for a couple of years to see how we would like it, I’d go in a shot.  But it’s not just about me.  It’s about my lovely husband who would go where ever I wished if it made me happy (even though he would not really want to go).  It’s about my children, my Israeli children who, like it or not only know this as home and speak to me and each other in a language that I often don’t understand.  As they get older the move gets more difficult, and the looming start of school underlines that fact.

Over on a blog I follow, Expatriate Life,  Judy has often talked about repatriation, about the challenges of repatriating after time away and I think it is this repatriation fear that stopped me from packing our bags and running this time last year.  Really, what do I know about the UK now.  Have I perhaps become too Israeli for England but too English for Israel?  Only time will tell as yet again we write our pros and cons list, we look for options were we to move back.  The key, I think, is no regrets, no looking back in anger, no what ifs or maybe.  When all is said and done as long as our family is together we are home.