Tuesday, November 27, 2007

I just had to write again. The past couple of days have been some of those "only in Israel" experiences that I want to share.

Last night at 7 PM I had an appointment in Yerushalayim with a pain management specialist. I've had neck and back pain for years, probably from a combination of sitting at a computer for seventeen years, bad posture, and osteoporosis. I've had massages, physical therapy and chiropractic care, so when my doctor suggested this, I thought "why not?" So I got on the 4:20 PM bus into town (David had driven in to work). I absolutely LOVE switching buses and knowing where I'm going! I wasn't exactly sure where the office was, so I gave myself plenty of time to get there. David has ulpan on Monday nights and finishes by 8:30, so we figured we drive home together. It was actually not so cold when the sun went down and I ended up walking from 5:15 until I got to my appointment at 6:45. There were, as usual, a lot of people out on the streets and it was fun to just be part of the crowd. That's not to say I didn't stop at various shops along the way and tried on a few clothes... One of the streets I walked down was Hillel, off King George, where David's ulpan is. I think maybe on one of our previous trips to Israel as tourists we might have walked on part of that street, but it was so beautiful! There were a lot of restaurants, bars, chic little clothing stores, coffee shops - even a tatto parlor!

They took me into my appointment early, and I had over an hour to wait for David, so I meandered through some side streets and ended up on Ben Yehuda, a long and popular outdoor pedestrian mall. I figured I'd be safer sitting still for awhile rather then doing any shopping, so I headed to the Koursin for a bowl of hot 'n sour soup. As I was walking towards the (small) restaurant, a policeman started yelling at me. Okay, ready for the first "only in Israel" story? I looked around and realized that there were lots of policeman herding hundreds of people (mostly kids) away from the spot I was standing on. I ducked into the restaurant, ordered my soup and then took it to one of the outside tables that was enclosed by glass. As I looked around, I realized that the entire area outside had totally cleared of people. A policeman saw me through the glass and waved his arms to motion that I should move to the inside part of the restaurant. There was one other English-speaking family in the restaurant at the time (young couple with a toddler, and parents obviously visiting from the states), and together with the two girls who worked there, we all crowded at the door to watch the robot in the middle of the street head for a plastic bag sitting by the side of a stone sculpture. We watched as it circled around and then took pictures (X rays?). After a few minutes, the robot lifted the bag in the air as hundreds of people watched from the windows of nearby shops. Then it flipped the bag upside down, and out dropped what looked like - a tablecloth wrapped in plastic. There were cheers as policemen converged to get the bag and tablecloth and put it in an official vehicle, and within seconds there were people everywhere once again. It was interesting to see all the tourists and yeshiva boys crowding around the robot with their camera phones taking pictures!

This morning I had to be back in Har Nof at 8:35 AM for another appointment. This is the other yearly event for us "mature" women where sadistic people in white coats make you take off all your clothes from the waist up in a freezing room, after which they position your body in positions that they must have learned from contortionists. Then they flatten certain female body parts in a vise while you stand on your toes trying not to writhe in pain - at which point they tell you, "Oh, looks like the computer isn't ready yet. Hang on; it'll just be a minute."

I know - you're thinking, "But Vickie, that happens in chutz l'aretz too." So, okay, that was just the background, that wasn't part of the story. Here it comes.

David and I drove in together this morning and then I took two buses from Har Hotzvim (free parking!). I took the #11 up Yehezkel and then switched to the #15 in Geulah because it got me closer to my appointment than the 11 would have. I had never taken the 15 and it was a newer bus and not so crowded. As we headed up Malachi Yisrael, I realized that the bus driver had an Elvis Presley tape playing, and boy, was he enjoying himself! He was whistling and clapping and dancing in his seat - I don't think I've ever seen a happier bus driver! I have to admit, that's the first time I've heard Elvis in Israel!

Fast forward a couple of hours. I've already had my mammogram but I'm now sitting in the "back" waiting room for the second part of the exam. (This clinic is very popular because they're very thorough and have the best equipment. They do an ultrasound with every exam, and they tell you up front to expect to be there for about three hours.) Anyway, I was reading the book I'd brought with me when I looked up and saw an older woman (much older than me) getting a neck massage by another woman. After a few minutes, the massagee got up and moved to another chair and the massager asked, "Who's next?" By this time, everyone in the room was watching with interest, and after the second woman got up, I rushed over to take her place. It turned out the massager (and pretty much everyone else in the room) spoke English, so I told her about my appointment with the pain management specialist the night before and how he had suggested that I get some massages. She said, "See how Hashem takes care of us?" When I asked her if she worked for the clinic, she just laughed and said, "No. I'm a patient, too. I'm also a massage therapist and I was bored just sitting here, so you're all helping me pass the time." I was flabbergasted! We all thought it was a perk provided by the clinic, and she was just doing it out of the goodness of her heart! She must have worked on five or six of us before they called her name.

Okay, those are my stories. I could tell you that Penina and Miryam came over this afternoon for a couple of hours of mahj, but that's probably not as exciting for you as it is for us. Although - the last time we played, I mahjed on the 75 cent hand which is the hardest one on the card. If you're not a mahj player that means nothing to you, but if you ARE a mahj player, you know what I'm sayin'.

And tonight I surprised David with a really great dinner. I was so proud of myself! (I have to admit, I like being a homemaker for the first time in my life...) We still have leftover turkey and today I decided to make a turkey pot pie - from scratch. I made two pie crusts which turned out much better than the ones I made for the pies last week. There's no parve cream of mushroom soup in this country (that I've found), so I enlisted the help of Vanessa who works at the makolet and speaks fairly good English. She found me a cream sauce and read the directions to me. Then I found a bag of mixed veggies - not just plain 'ole peas and carrots, but peas and carrots with corn and green beans and potatoes. I seasoned it with parsley and oregano and basil, and it looked and tasted יפה (be-yoo-ti-ful); just like a pro! Perhaps you're thinking that I'm tooting my horn a little too loudly. The truth is that most of the time I'm my own worst critic. This is one of the few times that I actually think the end product really did turn out well. Ask my husband - he had two helpings!

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