I was in Tel Aviv today for the Bird Brain Unconference. The event was great, thanks for asking, but then three things happened that left me feeling like I learned about more than just Vardi awesomeness and actual birds.
1. Cabbie culture.
I don’t take cabs often because I hate the experience of feeling waited on and for me the ultimate being waited on is sitting in a cab as someone drives you somewhere. Maybe it’s exacerbated in Jerusalem; maybe it’s not like that everywhere.
But I had a pretty good experience in Tel Aviv today. Dude stops by the road to let me in and his daughter or niece or granddaughter, I don’t know, is in the front seat. He tells me he’ll just drop her off nearby and then we’ll go. And he was really sweet with her, all ‘boobah’ and ‘metukah.’ It just made me happy. He was also just an honest cutie.
I’m thinking based on past experiences, Tel Aviv cabbies rock the socks off of Jerusalem cabbies.
2. The foxes of the hills.
Said cabbie guessed I am a Yerushalmit. He also thought I was in high school, so 1 out of two isn’t bad.
It made me realize how Yerushalmit I actually look: I rarely have any product in my hair, never a fleck of makeup on a weekday, I wear sandals in any weather above 9° Celsius, and my jeans aren’t ass-hugging tight. So yeah, I get it.
Anyway, it came up that I live in Tzur Hadassah. He couldn’t understand where it was, so after a few other indicators, I threw in, ‘it’s in the hills around Jerusalem.’
So… It would be an understatement to say he flipped out.
“The hills??? You live in the hills? How can you live there? With all the FOXES? You live with all the FOXES right around you? The FOXES are everywhere in the hills! How can you do that??”
“I… I live in a house… With walls…”
“But the HILLS! The FOXES! How? FOXES!”
“I live in an apartment building… It’s nice… Trees, the view… It’s beautiful…”
“But the FOXES!”
Seriously, that is how the conversation went. Every time he said שועלים (foxes) he emphasized it like it was the Devil.
I stand by living in the hills, though. It’s lovely out here.
3. Coming off secular.
This was a fun little exercise in self-identity. Not once, not twice, but thrice did I have conversations with folks today where they assumed I was secular and bashed religious people. Fascinating experience!
Of course, I can’t blame them for assuming I was a safe listener. I was in Tel Aviv wearing jeans and a capped-sleeve shirt, hair uncovered and, well, I was in Tel Aviv.
One of the people was my beloved cabbie, who gasped when I told him I was taking the train to Beit Shemesh (to get to the HILLS with the FOXES) and told me: “How can you do that? Don’t you know, it is filled with religious people? Ichs, Beit Shemesh, it’s disgusting! And the train will be filled with religious people! Take the bus, it’s quicker at least…”
There is so much work to be done in this country. Maybe starting with the foxes.