Thursday, October 8, 2009

Swirling Thoughts #53 - skewers of chicken, skewed language, a skewed shopping experience

Day 3 of the Sukkah Bar-b-q marathon…
Bob’s aunt has clear plastic bags of water hanging in her sukkah. Knowing why but needing to hear it from a real Israeli, we asked her why. She and her kids answered excitedly and with authority, “Zvoovim!” (flies). Okay, so we thought the bags of water were supposed to scare away bees – she’s using them to scare away flies. “Does it work?” we asked. With noticeably less excitement and authority they all shrugged their shoulders. “We don’t know.”

When they say everything is negotiable here, they are not kidding
On the way to Tel Aviv Bob told me a little about his visit to ACE Hardware in Jerusalem the day before. I sent him there to get me a normal trashcan (yes, I am still slow dancing with my trashcan liner each time I need to remove the bag) and a basic vacuum cleaner. Four hours later he returned, defeated. We’re sensing a common theme here – the problem is not so much that the stores don’t carry what you want. It’s not that the service is lacking. It’s not even that the prices are ridiculous. It’s that when you see a known name such as ACE you sort of (incorrectly!) expect the same level of quality and service you would get in such a store back in the states.

In addition to my requested items (neither of which were available), Bob had been looking for a Black & Decker drill to replace the one we brought which burned out the minute we got here. It is his favorite tool. He found it in ACE but the package was opened. He asked a salesperson for an unopened box. They gave him one that had clearly been opened but was now tightly closed with green tape. He asked for another one. Another opened box. The price was more than 450 NIS. The salesman told him “It’s fine, it’s good, I’ll give it to you for 400 NIS.” “What is this, the shuk?” Bob asked. The salesman said to call him when he’s in line and he’ll come to the register to confirm the discount. This gave Bob some time to think and get into negotiation mode. He decided he wasn’t paying an agarot over 350 NIS for this opened drill and when he called the guy over he told him as much. They agreed on 370 and so the deal was made. Not in the shuk. In ACE Hardware.

Is broken English the pathway to fluent Hebrew? I sure hope so...
After 3 skewers of pergiot (baby chicken) Rosie grabbed her stomach and exclaimed, “I am too much full!”

Hoshanah Rabbah - not just a calendar holiday
Tomorrow night starts Hoshanah Rabbah – the holiday marking the final sealing of our judgment after Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. There are shiurim (classes) being held in the evening and all day on Friday. What’s remarkable here is the universal awareness of this inherently significant and amazing day which, until now, used to just pass me by unless I happened to be looking at the calendar.

A yishuv tov
This is what people wish us constantly. “A good settlement.” In other words, we should have a good experience settling in. No settler pun intended. I have to go mix up the second round of my kids' antibiotics now - a service not provided in the pharmacy. I am running to Mahane Yehuda to buy meat for Shabbat early tomorrow morning since the butcher is closed for hol hamoed. Too bad I don't have Bob's bargaining skills! Overall, it's a process but i think we’re on track. I hear drilling sounds coming from the basement. That’s as good a sign as any.

1 comment:

  1. I do think your right about being on the right track. Everyday as you arise , it brings with it, new challenges that we take for granted here. In case we do not connect , have a wonderful weekend and love to all.