"That's Israel," my friend Sarah said while we were walking to the salon. I don't remember what she was referring to but that phrase is a staple of our lives here. So I'd like to dedicate the following list to all of the WUJS members who have experienced, seen, or heard something silly, rolled their eyes, and said "That's Israel." Because this country is wonderful but also really, really weird.
1) Bank times: The banks here are open at ridiculously weird hours. For example, today at 3 PM, the bank was closed. But it's not because of business hours because some days, they are open at 3 PM. So good luck finding any kind of rhyme or reason to their schedules. This also applies to the post-office but I don't really mail anything.
2) Fun protests for stupid reasons: While there were riots a couple days ago at al-Aqsa (yes, more riots), the Hasidim staged their own protest during Shabbat. They clashed with police, prayed, and wore their furry hats. Why? Because people had the audacity to drive cars during Shabbat. To rephrase H.L. Mencken, Hasidic Judaism is the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be living in the 21st century.
3) Screw lines: The line (or queue for the Brits out there) is a staple of Western life. We do it all the time, whether while getting movie tickets or crossing the street. One of the biggest adjustments is that the line ceases to exist here in Israel. If you're waiting for movie ticket, expect someone to push you aside, walk up to the ticket counter, and buy their tickets first. Or as I experienced while waiting for the walk signal, and old man to push you to the left and stand directly in front of you all to wait for the walk signal as well. He may have had a white beard, but he had sharp elbows.
4) Incredibly expensive pasta: This probably is good for my waistline but it is still incredibly annoying. Still, paying 10-12 shekel ($2.50-3.00) for a box of pasta sucks. Feeding lots of people cheaply with home made pasta sauce and Barilla used to be a staple of my cooking. Now, I get my carb fix by making latkes with Shira. They're great but it's not the same.
5) Racism against Asians: I know I've written about this before but it's a significant part of Israeli culture. There isn't a lot of overt racism against Asians in the US, and most I've encountered is the "I bet you're good at math and science and bad with women" kind which is easily shrugged off (mostly because the first two are fine and the last obviously isn't true). But here, I encounter the "You're a low class migrant worker" type of racism and it's not fun. It does make me more sympathetic to the plight of Latin immigrants to the US.
Obviously, this is an incomplete list that I will be expanding while I'm here. And while I'm posting away, here's a promise for yet another one (serious this time) tomorrow!