Monday, October 02, 2006


I was woken this morning by the sounds of silence...

You would think that silence would be conducive to sleep, but no, I am used to the regular symphony that starts the mornings in Jaffa. At about 05h30 the buses start. Big rumbling diesel buses, extra long buses, buses that seem to stop outside of my windows specifically to rev their engines. But I am used to that. The trucks that have wandered past sporadically all night long join in with the buses, the drivers seeming to take great pleasure in honking their airhorns and using their brakes violently.

The parents wake up next, calling their children, or calling to their next door neighbours. Mineer, whoever that might be, seems to be exceptionally popular, as I hear the name called throughout the time it takes me to get out of bed and ready for work. Mineer also doesn't seem to like to respond, as the same voices call the name over and over and over, a veritable broken record. Through the airvent that connects all storeys of my building I then hear the wailing and yelling of the children who live below me. They sound as though they hate getting up to go to school and spend their pre-breakfast time protesting and fighting with their mother.

This symphony is punctuated throughout by the sound of my next-door neighbour, Tarik, sitting in the stairwell, coughing his way through his first cigarettes of the day. His wife won't let him smoke in their apartment, so all of the neighbours get his second hand smoke. But other than this one thing they are very good neighbours to have, and so the building tenants allow them this one major foible. Better a smoker than a junkie, and in our neighbourhood that is a distinct possibility.

For a while, but not for very long, my downstairs neighbour was a prostitute. She did keep her house clean, but didn't realize that unlike most apartments in Israel, the ones in our building do not have a hole in the wall at floor level to swoosh the cleaning water out of. So she would squeegee her dirty floor water into the hallway and down 2 flights of stairs before managing to shepherd it out the front door. She wasn't very bright... When the other residents of the building charged her for the broken glass in the front door that her boyfriend had kicked in, she left fairly quickly. But she has been the only disagreeable tenant in my 5 years here, the rest are all long term residents, so we consider ourselves very lucky. Relative to the neighbourhood {and I think probably to the rest of Israel as well} our building - internally at least - is very quiet.

Externally, however, we suffer from the same level of noise pollution as any other major street in Tel Aviv. So this morning, Monday morning, when there was no matinal music, my body alerted me to something out of the ordinary.

Of course, I couldn't coerce myself into falling back into bed so I made a cup of coffee - I don't fast - and so, with face scrubbed, I went out into the silent streets.

In the course of my wanderings, the only living creatures I came upon were the ubiquitous pigeons and a pair of cats sunning themselves on the remnants of a cardboard box.

I missed the Muezzin's calling of the faithful to prayer.
The mosque was empty and silent.

Even the crows seemed to have abandoned their favourite perches.

When the sun started to get fierce and hot, I beat a retreat to my cool little mouse house where I found that some children had amused themselves by building a roadblock of empty cartons and boxes. They effectively stopped the traffic, because not a single car went by the whole time I was walking back up the street.

I kept myself occupied by washing curtains and windows, and then watching the movies I had got especially for today. I started out light hearted and playful with That Darn Cat, which made me think of my childhood - going to visit my cousins and watching this in the gym at their school. Then I went serious with A Beautiful Mind. You could call this a serious dichotomy, diversified, or schizophrenic, take your pick.

Throughout the day I have heard the calls and laughter of children, the ringing of bicycle bells and the occassional car going by - far fewer than usual. It has been, even for this exceptionally quiet day, even quieter than usual. Until, that is, we had a minor riot just outside my apartment.

It seems one of the junkies had been throwing garbage out of his 4th floor window and had nearly hit some kids. This isn't something out of the ordinary, but for once a police car was going by and the officer stepped out to resolve the situation. Of course, there was not much he could do - you can't reason with a junkie, nor can you reason with a few dozen children... He eventually left to the sound of catcalls and jeers.

But the junk throwing junkie stopped.

At sunset I am off to Cactus & Sass's to break the{ir} fast. Admittedly I didn't cook today, just drank coffee and ate leftover chicken soup, but it is called fast breaking anyways. Their traditional fast breaking foods are egg and onions, which is a very good eggsalad that photographs appalingly, and chicken lockshen soup, which translates into good old chicken noodle,

and which Cactus does exceptionally well, using lots of soup celery {which is different from regular "American" celery, as it is called here}, wings, carrots and squash. There is always other stuff too, but those are the highlights.


Yudit Ilany said...

wow, finally a fellow "Yafawiye" or "Yafoit" on line!!!!

From your pics i gather u live in j'lem boulevard, once upon a time known as "Nouzha street" after the big mosque opposite "shuk avi".


aja said...

Wow... almost speechless! Yup, I'm a Yafa'it - and absolutely right, in fact I live across the street from the huge hole that was there for almost a year... with the cranes and trolleys and 24/7 noise and flashing lights... and that they have just reopened 'cause they forgot to put something down there, or forgot to take something out - good thing city engineers aren't surgeons...

I'm glad to hear that the Godfather wasn't whitewashed, they were so proud of the it and worked so hard and so long to get him just right... but I'll hold off on the bad coffee 8^)