Category Archives: humour

WTF?

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20140523-112458-41098568.jpgTen years on and there are many things in Israel, quirks shall we say, that I didn’t think I would ever get used to. In fact on arrival many of them struck me at the least strange and at the worst absurd.  Here are my favourites;

1. Cottage.  No not a small quaint house in the countryside but cottage cheese.  Yes cottage cheese is called cottage and when I told the childers that we were going to stay in a cottage they thought it was hilarious.

2. Breakfast of salad (with onion) and the ubiquitous, cottage.  Just. No.

3. Young men going out in the evening for a coffee.  In fact many go out for coffee and cake.  In touch with their feminine sides or just not lager louts like the Brits?

4. 1 day weekends.  I believe I have complained about this before.  Kids go to school, some people work.  The weekend starts on Friday afternoon and ends as the sun goes down on Saturday. Too darned short.

5. Shabbat.  I have also talked about this delicious day before.  When the roads are quiet, the stores are closed and you don’t feel you should be doing something other than hanging out with the family or relaxing at the beach.

6. What we in the UK would call cheek nay rudeness – chutzpah.  ‘How much do you earn?’, How much do you pay for your mortgage/rent/weekly shop?’. ‘Why don’t you have more/less children?’ etc etc.

7. Handball.  Its a game where grown men run around a pitch hitting a ball with the palm of their hand to each other.  What? (along the lines curling in its absurdity)

8. Going out at midnight.  I like to sleep.  I liked to sleep when I was still young enough to go out at night.  To rest until 11pm and then get up to go out is just plain weird.

9. Throw away cups, crockery, cutlery and soft drinks.  Go to any event, wedding, funeral, bar mitzvah or political meeting and you will find these arranged on the table.  There is a genuine reason behind it – the laws of kashrut for those who keep kosher – but it always strikes me as odd to arrive at an event and see orange squash and plastic utensils laid on the table.

10. Buy 2 get 1 free.  I only want one.  Where’s my discount?

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AEIOU I sometimes cry

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wmu-g-gb7You have probably noticed that that slogan t shirts are back in style after a 30 year break.  Yes it was the 80’s when we sported ‘Choose Life’, ‘Just say NO’ and ‘Frankie says Relax’ t-shirts and yes that was indeed 30 years ago.  Hmmm.  I had a particularly fetching pale pink cut off t-shirt (also in vogue again) with ‘Ne Touchez Pas’ written across it.  Rather inappropriately for a pre-pubescent 11 year old to be wearing a t-shirt like this, especially when 2 hand prints were printed above the words – you can guess where.  What was my Mother thinking?!  (she doesn’t speak French so maybe she just didn’t get it…?!).

I have been eyeing up on the style blogs a few sweatshirts and t-shirts with cool slogans printed across, my personal favourite being, ‘I have more issues than Vogue’.  Luckily here in Israel there are also slogan printed items to purchase, such as this beauty.

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In case you can’t read it, it says;

MIANI DANCELIKE

EUN DMC

MIX EVERY  CNES IMASTER

FLADN

ANO TRNASHS GOYTAR LIKG

NIRVANA

THE MUSEUM THEY DESERNE

Nope it still makes absolutely no sense but FLADN might become my word of the week.You can’t beat a bit of clothing tat off a market at the best of times but I have found that in a non-English speaking country the opportunity for spelling, grammar, general nonsensical and inappropriate English lends a whole new meaning to the word tat.  Take for example the velour child’s track suit with ‘ blow me’ written across the bum.  Obscene, offensive or just plain hilarious?

The reason for my sudden interest in the written word? I am currently trying my best to teach number 1 son to read English.  Although he understands and speaks English, his default language is Hebrew and once he gets to school in September he will be learning to read and write in Hebrew.  My plan is to get him to learn the basics before he goes to school so that he isn’t confused learning to write both languages at the same time.

We are working with educational work books and flash cards but to liven things up a bit and to keep him interested we sometimes do our lessons on the hoof.  I like to call them field trips but they are often errands that I have to run and I take him along with me and package it as an English lesson.  For example in the mall we stand outside the stores with English names and he spells them – ‘Golf’ and ‘Fox’ were easy but we looked like we were casing the joint outside ‘Honigman’ we were there so long.

There are a few difficulties using the everyday world of Israel to teach English as there are soooo many mistakes.  Menus for example that are sometimes so ridiculous that you have to read it 5 times before understanding what it actually is.  ‘Egg Plant on the Fire’, ‘Respect the Chicken’.  I know that Israel is not alone in their translating skills and I am more than certain that if a British restaurant tried to translate their menu to French or Chinese or Hebrew with the aid of only Google Translate the results would be equally amusing.

IMG_1538My personal favourite was discovered a couple of weeks ago when no. 1 son and I went on a field trip (I needed to go to the chemist) and we found a puzzle in the $1 store (the clue is in the price).  This was the piece for the letter E.  Not terribly helpful although he does remember the letter E by saying ‘it’s not a hippo, it’s an elephant’ so in a round about way it worked.

I am finding the whole teaching lark rewarding and frustrating in equal amounts.  I am stunned when he recognises words and letters, knowing that I am the one who taught him, but I do worry that I am teaching him the ‘wrong’ way and just knowing the letters and spelling out the words may not be enough.  I am hopeful that the use of song, signs and the odd slogan t-shirt will aid his learning although our field trips will bypass restaurants and market stalls for the time being.

How does your garden grow?

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How does my garden grow?  Well it doesn’t.  No scratch that, there are a couple of things that grow in my garden, the gigantic date palms and the Ficus trees and therein lies the problem.

I grew up in an area where the garden was more likely to be waterlogged or too cold to grow anything so imagine my excitement when moving to a house with a  garden in Israel that had sunshine, warmth, little rain and ready planted fruit trees.  Three years on I want a balcony.

We had a banana plant (which has since be chopped down following that night), a lemon tree, olive tree, date palms and yuccas, it all seems on first view to be so exotic and wonderful.  But we have Ficus trees.  Ficus is more commonly known as fig but do not be mistaken into thinking that our garden sports an impressive fruit bearing tree.  Oh no, our garden sports 3 overgrown, root-tastic, uncontrollable Thai Ficus trees.  And no, they are not the bonsai variety.  The gardener who recently came over to give me a price for salvaging my garden reliably informed me they are Thai Ficus and no-one should ever be allowed to plant them near houses (I have since googled Thai Ficus and I am not convinced he’s right on the name).  Think the story of the magic porridge pot but with roots and leaves and I don’t know the magic word to make it stop, except perhaps axe or poison.

Said gardener regaled me with stories of Ficus roots lifting houses from their foundations, the trees killing everything around them in their quest to survive and I know from experience that these darned roots can work their way into your pipes.  Our bathroom has been flooding on and off for 2 years until a plumber comes and cuts the roots underground, down the pipe.  Yes really – who knew such a machine existed?  This new gardener, whose name is Shimmy and therefore became my favourite person even before I met him, gave me some hope to my gardening skills when he pointed out that the grass doesn’t grow because of the Ficus roots under the lawn, the plants don’t grow in the borders because the Ficus blocks the sun and takes the nutrients out of the soil and in short anything that needs water doesn’t stand a chance, yes you guessed it, the ficking Ficus takes the lot.  So they’ve gotta go.  The uplifted tiles on the patio, the blocked pipes and the bumps under the bedroom floorboards is warning enough I think that this is just the start of one hell of a horror story.

IMG_3017Now what about those beautiful date palms?  Rustling in the wind, casting long shadows across the garden, dropping dates that rot all over the (parched and hungry) grass, providing birth centres for cockroaches and attracting bats that relieve themselves all over my drying washing.  I think chopping the palms down maybe a little excessive so I will just have to fork out an inordinate sum of money to get a specialist to come and clean them up.  Although there are a couple that have just given up on their own.

 

My plan for this week is to try to breathe some life back into the garden, not that I can plant anything because the f word will kill it in a week.  I can however water it a bit more (plenty of water available as there’s not much long shower/full bath action going on at the moment due to the roots in the pipes problem) and I have taken the shears to the overgrown leaves this morning as I am unable to wait another week for Shimmy to come in order to see the sky.  Where is Alan Titchmarsh when you need him, if ever a garden needed a makeover it’s mine.  Roll on next week when hopefully Shimmy will shimmy in with heavy machinery and cut these blighters down and give me back my garden.

A little mouse with clogs on

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Mickey MouseYou’d be forgiven for thinking my home is infested with vermin as there are days when I believe it to be true. If it’s not the cockroach colony raving in my back garden at night, it’s the ants that appear from nowhere and form lines across my work surfaces if I don’t disinfect them every 3 minutes. The latest visitor to my house was a mouse. We’ll call him Mickey.. Mickey made a brief visit to my kitchen a couple of days ago and yet again that deep-throated, strangulated scream was emitted from my mouth.

After waiting half an hour for him to re-emerge from underneath the fridge I had devised a plan. Husband had confidently told me to block the fridge and wait until he got home to deal with it. He really thought I was going to hang out 8 hours with a mouse. His other suggestion was whacking it on the head. Neither suggestion appealed. Having watched enough survivor programmes on Discovery and being a big fan of Bear Grylls I formulated a plan to release Mickey back into the wilds of the garden without a scratch.

This was no ordinary mouse. Oh no, Mickey was one smart SOB and when he appeared in the living room – how did he get there? – I herded him with the aid of a washing up bowl to an open space and captured him underneath said bowl. How about this for genius, I pushed the bowl complete with Mickey underneath out the front door and out of the main door of the building. What did clever clogs do next? (the mouse that is, not me). He tried to get back in. In fact it was a good 5 minutes before the plate-glass finally defeated him and he ran off.

3 hours later and through the closed screen door I saw him ambling passed. Yes ambling, no scuttling or running as mice are want to do. Oh no Mickey the coolest mouse on the block was casing the joint. My joint. He then started to climb the screen. So determined to hang out chez nous he was vertical up the screen looking for the hole through which he probably entered in the first place. Cue strange strangled yelp from yours truly and a whack on the screen door to dislodge him. He hung around for a bit and I haven’t seen him since – truth be told I’m rather hoping the neighbourhood cats or the local barn owl got him.

So now in amongst my night-time fears of mice sized roaches running across the bed I now have to fear actual mice. I have sealed the house and man is it hot in here, our a/c bill will be huge, too afraid am I to let fresh air in.

Someone I know recently found a scorpion in her washing basket, someone else has rats running up her palm trees so I should consider myself lucky that it was Mickey who paid us a visit. Lets just hope she didn’t have some babies whilst she was here…

Have a little patience

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Savlanoot, one of the first words they teach you in the Ulpan – the first stop for all keen new arrivals to Israel’s fair shores.  Savlanoot means patience and as most Israelis will admit, is something you don’t see much evidence of on the streets here.  Remember the driving post?  Why wait patiently when you can lean on your horn, shout, ram into the back of someone, why go the correct but long way round when you can drive the wrong way up a one way street?  Same applies in supermarket lines (the supermarket being just about the only place you will see a line), I have been crushed by an old lady’s trolley in her haste to make it to the check out first, what did I say to her? “savlanoot”.

Recently they have installed self check outs in some of the big supermarkets here.  More fool the supermarkets.  Trolleys full of weekly shops bumping and grinding into one another whilst impatient shoppers try to figure out why the machines won’t work – you can’t fit a trolley full of shopping on a small shelf “unexpected item in the bagging area” – yes that’s the shopper’s bored small child trying to get into the bag. There is a sign saying no more than 15 items but is basically ignored.  A self check out requires patience at the best of times; the computer gets confused, the user gets confused, how do you delete something youscanned twice by accident ?- add a dash of I know better than the check out girl (or boy), a sprinkling of disregard for those queuing behind them and a gigantic dollop of impatience and you have supermarket meltdown.  Wish I would remember this and just go to the regular check out.

Unlike the word patience in English, savlanoot is most often used as an instruction eg all 3 kids want to be first out/in the car/house/bath/fridge so yelling “savlanoot” is rather like “hang on” or “wait” in English.  Obviously I never yell at my 3 childers, I tell them calmly, whilst at their level, in even tones.

On arrival in Israel I had bags of savlanoot, I could have shared it around I was so well endowed with savlanoot.  Not so much 8 years on.  Obviously I can’t lay the blame entirely on Israeli culture, 3 very small childers stretches anyones patience.  Mix the two together and you have me as I am today.  Not an ounce of savlanoot, in fact I wonder if anger management classes would be of benefit.  My new look blog site is the case in point of my new-found impatience.  Having fiddled around for at least an hour trying to change the site’s background, font colour etc I basically got annoyed with it (myself) for not being able to do what I wanted, I ran out of patience and what you see is how it turned out.    Comments/advice gratefully received.

The White White Snow of Home

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If you’re an ex pat or if you just like a bit of self-pity every now and then, I have a brilliant way to really wallow in your homesickness/sadness.  It involves downloading Google Earth and re-visiting your previous homes, schools, work places.  In fact anywhere that brings back happy memories.  If you really want to feel sad look up the old addresses of your long dead grandparents.  Preferably the houses that you spent lazy hazy summer days as children.  Just a glimpse at that rose garden or the rusty swing set should have you welling up. You can’t beat a bit of misery and self-absorption every now and then.  Go on, try it, you’re tempted as you roll your eyes.

Expats by definition live in limbo; always wondering if it’s better back where you came from.  Memories weed out reality and real life is all reality and no dreamy memories.

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snowCase in point: As my old home is blanketed in snow I am looking out at blue sky and palm trees and yet I am longing for home.  Everyone in the UK is dreaming of blue skies and I fancy some shivering, wet white stuff.  I must be mad, or living in Israel, or both.

I’m an alien

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Next week there is an election here in Israel.  It will be my first election here as a fully fledged voter.Legal-Alien1

It took me 7 years to become a citizen of Israel;

at least 10 interviews at the Interior Office,

3 interviews held separately from my husband – less we compare notes,

5 episodes of crying in the Interior Office toilet,

10 photographs of my husband and I whilst ‘dating’,

6 letters from friends and family in Israel to certify we were kosher (our relationship not our dietary requirements),

1 no holds barred public temper tantrum (Of course my marriage is real why would I have left a perfectly good country like Britain left my family, friends, livelihood  if my marriage was not real)

1000 bits of paper stapled together and held together by

25 staples in

1 folder with my name on it kept in the Interior Office’s cupboard

0 computer database with all my details so we didn’t have to go through the same thing every 3 months in my first year and then once a year every year for 7 years after that

100000s of people less fortunate than myself who don’t come from the UK who are desperate to live in Israel or anywhere else in the modern world for that matter but remain illegal and impoverished as a result.

Was it all worth it to get my Israeli passport and permanent status?  I’ll get back to you on that one. I do feel that I have earned the right to vote.  Now I need another 7 years to figure out who to vote for; the politics here make the confusion of the Interior Office seem like order.

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Cheer Up, it’s not all bad

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The sun gives you skin cancer and causes early aging of the skin

Vegetables are poisoned with pesticides/genetically modified and any goodness left is destroyed by cooking anyway

Meat is amongst other things full of hormones/antibiotics/fatpoison_sign

Fish is over fished or farmed – see previous 2 points

Wheat is what makes us all tired and bloated and fed up (apparently)

Bread has wheat in it

Pasta has wheat in it

Breakfast cereals – wheat, sugar, salt – just plain bad

Sugar – poison and therefore any tasty treat whether it’s organic, homemade, even if it has fruit in it, it also probably has sugar in it – poison.

Milk – lactose is bad for you and anyway regular milk is full of hormones, antibiotics and can be sold re-pasteurised more than a month after it left the cow (again apparently)

Wi-fi fries your brain

Cell phones fry your brain

Computers, TV and games you can play on these mediums make you violent, exacerbate ADD and ADHD in children and are generally anti-social

All forms of social media are anti-social

Do I need to say cigarettes, alcohol, and recreational drug use?

All forms of transport apart from a bike is poison for the world

A bike is a death trap in a world full of poisoning vehicles

I have to stop before my head explodes. Surely we don’t have to live on a commune, in a cave, sucking organic veggies?  I don’t want to.

Sod it, its January, its raining (even in Israel), pass the chocolate. Happy thoughts, happy thoughts.

Do they know its Christmas?

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christmas party

Ingredients for a successful Christmas party:

 
Daylight, all the best Christmas parties take place during the day (no hangover the following day)

Too much food; turkey, stuffing, sprouts and roasties a must.

Too much drink, of the alcoholic variety. Bubbles or heated or both preferable

Slightly tipsy dancing in living rooms using small children as a ruse to cover the ridiculousness of dancing in living rooms.

Comedy clothing – what’s cute on 3 year olds does not necessarily work on over 18s but it is Christmas. Pets should also be dressed appropriately.

General joie de vivre. If in doubt go to a friend’s house so not to be involved in squabbles.

Band Aid and/or Shaky, Mariah Carey and Cliff Richard. The more warm wine you imbibe the better they sound.

Outpourings of love – hugging at random.

Inability to leave AKA out staying your welcome

 
A fine set of Jewish friends and their families provided all the above at the weekend and as the only Christian in da house I have to say it was one of the best Christmas bashes I’ve been to. And there was me thinking Christmas would be a non event this year.
Do they know its Christmas in Israel? In the main no, why would they care? But the message of glad tidings, the sharing of a bit of joy and any excuse for a party certainly made a lot of people happy this weekend. Whatever the religion.

Merry Christmas everyone!