Wednesday, August 12, 2009

swirling thoughts #7 - home, sweet (sweaty) home

When I first met my husband’s family I thought it was cute how they had a nameplate projecting out over their front door so that anyone walking up or down the block would know this was the house of M-----. I figured it was something cultural from his Israeli father but later, when I learned they’d bought the house from a doctor, I figured the sign post was probably already there and they’d just changed the name. Beyond that I never gave it much thought.

willie wonka has retired to israel and is consulting with the prigat juice company. green grape kiwi - a winner if your kids like the taste of children's tylenol. mine fight for it.

Learning my place
Clearly it is in the home and on the home. When Bob dropped my daughter and I off at the larger, slightly cheaper but definitely farther away makolet on his way to Jerusalem this morning I told him we’ll take “mishloach” on our order (delivery) and tremp home (hitchhike). The minute he pulled away the English speaking woman from Mai Eden, the mineral water company who’s been dutifully hounding me since I landed, called to see where I was – the mineral water delivery was at my house. I called Bob to go back but he and the kids had already loaded up the car with hitchhikers and were on their way to Jerusalem. I called the Mai Eden lady back and explained to her I was not there but since I’d paid couldn’t they just leave the water and cooler at my door? She explained to me they need to ‘check some information with me’ and I urged her to let them just leave the water. We already checked all the information, I reminded her, and I already paid! After a brief hold she came back and said something to the effect of they’ll get the information later. I took this to mean they were leaving the water. I proceeded into the larger, slightly cheaper, father away and noticeably less friendly makolet (the delivery boy yelled at us “ein chania po!” (no parking here!) as Bob was dropping me off). In the makolet we bought every flavor of juice and fruit flavored soft drink imaginable. Cherry pomegranate. Sour Apple. Mango. Peach, Strawberry Banana. Strawberry Kiwi. We even bought Coke but we purchased not one bottle of water.

Hitchhiking home we learned from our American looking driver (who initially spoke to us only in Hebrew) how to say where we live. Efo garim? That was the point in the conversation when he was forced to speak his perfect American English. Until then I could answer the routine questions. Where are you going? ZeghrubaVEL. Where are you from? Bghrooklyn. How long have you been here? Chodesh echad (one month). The next one is obvious but I just didn’t know it. Where do you live? Ani gara b’ZeghrubaVEL aghrba. He taught me and then had me repeat it. A ride and some useful vocabulary. What more could I want? Maybe just some water.

We took a shortcut home from the main road (as directed by our tremp) to find nothing waiting for us in front of the house. Now it was time to call the Mai Eden lady back to verify the status of our mineral water. I called the number to Mai Eden, listened to a menu and list of extensions in Hebrew and then waited. This is how I’d reached her earlier. My luck, like my water, was running out. A man answered in Hebrew and my first question, Medaber Anglit? (do you speak English) was met with an unapologetic and rather apathetic, LO. Yesh anashim medabrim Anglit? My broken attempt at asking “Are there people there who speak English?” LO. Evidently, when they want to land your business they have the English speaking rep hunt you down and stalk you. Once the deal (with payment) is made, there is no more English speaking rep. To be fair he did give me a number for service. This number gives you (in Hebrew) no less than 50 extensions to dial. I waited and waited and then realized it may be only 5 or 6 extensions – the message was repeating! So far Mai Eden is a bust.

Later in the day I was melting on the floor. Literally. Bob knows how to turn on the air conditioning but I haven’t a clue. We carried home the cheese and milk but left all those delicious juices for mishloach. So I laid down in the darkened den next to all the half-unpacked suitcases on the (cold) stone floor. I drifted off and woke up to the sound of my way out of reach cell phone. I had missed the call and by the time I got up and tried to call back it rang again. M-----?? EFO AT? EZE BAYIT??? (where are you? which house?). I was standing outside for better reception at this point and could hear the car of the delivery boy. I am here, I called, both to the car and into the phone. Arghba. ZeghrubaVEL aghrba. BUT IT SAYs M-----. EFO M-----? At this point I realized the houses in Israel, like the streets, don’t have predictable patterned numbering. Often times, there is no visible number at all but what most houses DO have, at least in this neighborhood, is a name plate on the front of the house. So even though I gave my street address and my cell phone number, the delivery boy was looking for the M----- name plate on a house on Zerubavel. By the time he got to me he was steaming mad. Two phone calls, so much time, it says M-----, there is no M-----! He wasn’t exactly buttering me up for a big tip. But he did provide me with an important lesson. There is no M-----! Until we change the nameplate on the house, my name for delivery’s sake is the same as my landlord.

Meanwhile in Jerusalem
Bob took two of the kids with him to the Office Depot in Malcha Mall. Don’t be fooled. Malls and Office Depot may look American but we are most definitely still in Israel. The first time we went to Office Depot was to buy Bob a printer. He specifically went there because he figured they’ll have a good return policy, should he have any problem. Ha! I went out for iced coffee while he was being rung up. When I returned to the store the security guard who checks you when you enter would not let me in the store with my drink. From his post I watched Bob at the customer service desk unboxing the printer, taking out all the parts and then putting it back in, all the while involved in an animated exchange with the salesmen, which I could not hear but which didn’t exactly look friendly. When he finally got out of the store he showed me the taped up box. ‘You see this tape?’ he asked me? Uh, yes. ‘Once this tape is broken I cannot return the printer. They made me open the box, inspect that all the pieces were there, taped up the box and then explained to me if I open the box the printer cannot be returned. Under any circumstances.’ So with this background in mind, fast forward to today. Bob is back at Office Depot to buy an office chair for his home office! Not because we love Office Depot but because we just don’t know where else to go. He and the kids test-sit in all the chairs. He promises the kids treats for being patient sitters. He finds a chair he likes and it is not in stock. Available to order. Bob is not the ordering kind. For him to load up kids in the car and drive to a mall, he is out to spend his money and return with his goods in hand. They do another quicker sit-test and he settles on a chair. Now he’s up to promising the kids food for being so patient (who’s kids did he have today?). He asks in Office Depot if they can hold the chair while he takes the kids to eat.. LO. Can he buy the chair and then have them load it into his car after he feeds the kids? Pause. Okay. He buys the chair. He feeds the kids. A kosher food court – they ate from three different places – what a treat! He returns to Office Depot. No problem, the lady tells him. Just pull your car around and call this number. ‘Around?’ he asks. ‘You’ll see – you can’t miss it’ she advises him. ‘Will you be here?’ he asks her? I may be on my break but it’s okay. Just call the number. Bob takes and loads the kids and then pulls the car to where she told him – ‘just drive around – you’ll see the loading door’. And what do you know. He pulls up in front of a guard sitting on a chair surrounded by packages under a sign that reads Office Depot. ‘WHAT DO YOU WANT?’ the guard screams at Bob. Seems this is the loading door for Hom Senter (but the sign says….’no matter – you go over there, not here!’). He points at a boarded up door and tells Bob that is Office Depot. Bob calls the number she gave him and someone else answers. Yes, just knock on the door. He gets out of the car and starts knocking. Nothing. He knocks and knocks and knocks. Nothing. Five full minutes of knocking. He dials the number again. I’VE BEEN KNOCKING FOR TWENTY MINUTES!!! ‘No, sir, you’ve been knocking for five minutes.’

I was laughing hard at that story when Mordy the car broker pulled up in the next car we are considering making our own. Mordy heard the recap, smiled and said, “Welcome to Israel.”

transported to another dimension altogether. a place where people take the shower head with them when they move. found this out when i tried to take a (freezing) shower at 2am last night after a sweaty day of moving...

Footprints revisited
Or should I say ‘Footprints Eternalized’. Last night we slept all together on air mattresses in the living/dining room because the paint was still wet on the walls of the bedrooms upstairs. Tonight the kids were very excited to move their air mattresses into their bedrooms. Aside from bumping into the cactus on the stairs (we inherited about 8 cacti with the house but no toilet paper or light bulbs and even a shower head was missing. Hmmmm.), the relocating of the air mattresses turned in to an actual event. I can still hear the words of the parenting lecturer at Bikur Holim some 6 years ago – ‘The process is the project’. There was even enough novelty in the air to get them to put away a laundry basket each of clothes. I let the kids arrange the rooms and the closets as they wished – my only demand was that screaming be kept to a minimum. Talk about foreshadowing. When I went up to get them started on baths I took a look at the beautifully newly painted built-in shelves in the girls’ room. Just then something black caught my eye. Exactly four weeks in Israel and I’d successfully avoided this and now here it was staring me in the face. A tiny black footprint – cartooney almost with five little round toe prints – and he wasn’t alone. At least 4 of these little feet staring at me from the fresh, barely dry, rather expensive, newly painted shelf. Bob’s home office is in the basement, in the miklat, the security room. When he closes the door he cannot hear anything from inside the house. But if the door is closed he gets a little hot. So he keeps it partially opened. Do you hear screaming from upstairs I asked him? I heard you tonight, he smiled.

i tried to stay under the radar with my history of gestational diabetes and my early taking (and passing!) of the four hour glucose test before i hopped on the plane to israel. my new OB will have none of it. under her direct orders i will be taking that 4 hour test (again) tomorrow morning at 7:30. no pin prick at the kupat cholim. they'll drain my blood like vampires into tubes. can't wait.

missed my sugar test - it was yesterday. tried to go today anyway. car wouldn't start (security code mishap - you can't steal your own car in israel). hitched a ride to the kupat. they don't do sugar test on thursday because the lab is closed on friday (duh!). hitched home. re-inventing my day from now. it's only 9am....

No comments:

Post a Comment