Monday, February 22, 2010

Swirling Thoughts #116 – tiyulim (excursions - short trips taken with the intention of returning to the point of departure; as for pleasure; jaunt)

My Sefer Yehoshuah tiyul was amazing and inspired (once I recovered from geological shock). And traveling with 6 very learned ladies afforded me the opportunity to catch up on my ‘papers I need help with’ pile. Alongside water bottles and snacks, my bag held several mysterious school notices. One of which was Asher’s tiyul form.

Wanted: Armed chaperones
There were 2 lines specifying the date, time, place, and required packing (hat, 2 liters water, 2 meals, comfortable shoes). Then followed an entire paragraph soliciting armed chaperones. Something like ‘If you have a gun and want to chaperone, you can chaperone.’ And ‘If your gun is an M16 and you chaperone, all the rest of your son’s tiyulim for the year will be free.’ Just like the tiyul notices we received in Brooklyn...

Savlanut & Emunah (patience & faith) required. And leave your gun at home.
The maxim of successfully navigating Israeli bureaucracy also applies to the American bureaucratic experience in Israel.

After four cancellations we finally made our appointment with the US Consulate. An unassuming stone building, situated between a used car lot (which doubles as a parking lot for a 20 shekel flat fee) and Palestine Pottery, it couldn’t be further from Embassy Row on Massachusetts Avenue, yet it has a charm all its own.

Like a heavily guarded post office, it is a blend of security, strictly numbered window hopping, and waiting. Waiting for the various guards in varied styles of sunglasses (worn at every post – even inside the building) to usher us through from one waiting spot to another to yet another (not before asking if we have a gun and then confiscating my camera, cell phone, and eyeliner sharpener).

Waiting for the American-born-Israeli-raised woman who couldn’t fill out her Social Security application because, while she can speak perfect English, she cannot read or write (note to self: make sure Rachel Merav learns to read and write English). Waiting for the Arab family who insisted they lived in the US in 2004 and again in 2007 and now wants to return but can produce no evidence to support their claim to be graciously denied pending further documentation. Waiting waiting waiting and suddenly we were done.

With a receipt and nothing more we walked back to our car wondering if it would still be there (it was) and hoping for such luck with the registered mail delivery of Rachel’s passport, consular report of birth abroad and social security card since the contracted courier service will not deliver to the Gush.

Giddy with accomplishment we went for Israeli breakfast. Sometimes a seemingly ordinary day can feel like a tiyul.

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