On Sunday morning, a work day in Israel, my dad and my brother had a business meeting with their partners, and later the rest of us were also invited to take a tour of their facility. This company designs complex electric cables for airplanes and boats, and then licenses the technology to be manufactured in other countries (i.e. Russia, India, Greece). Dave and I drove to the industrial park called "Airport City," where we joined my dad and my brother who were just coming out of their meeting.
The CEO of the business walked us through the engineering floor, reminding us that they don't do any manufacturing on site, but create the design and set up the assembly line in such a way that they can demonstrate it to their customers and partners so that they, in turn, could implement the same assembly line on their own site. The largest part of the engineering floor was taken up by the 1:1 model of a cable that connects the cockpit of an airplane to all of the the different parts of the fuselage. The central cable and all of its off-shoots are outlined by red tape glued to the cardboard strip, like a great red river absorbing its tributaries. Hard to imagine how many different individual wires are packed in a cable such as this, and the job that involves connecting all the wires to the right buttons on the control panel. Proper labeling is key in this business, and another part of the assembly line that we saw included several intricate labeling machines.
Most of the people whom we meet in Israel are working either in the high-tech or in the service industries or both. My cousin Dasha whom we met later the same day works for a company that provides telephone service primarily between Israel and the United States, and so she has to keep the US hours: her workday starts at 4 pm Israeli time and ends at 11 pm (9 to 5 EST). She has recently 'graduated' from the army and is thinking of traveling abroad, potentially going abroad to work -- one opportunity is to sell the products of the Dead Sea at malls around the world. This company provides young people with visas, housing, and an opportunity to earn percentage off the sales. The job is a hard one, but it's not a bad way of getting to know another country. Dasha already speaks Spanish and French on top of English, Hebrew, and Russian, so a number of countries are vying for her candidacy. She's looking primarily at Europe at the moment. Sales job is a great training for any future diplomat or a world leader -- or a singer, a dancer, a poet, a talk show host or anything else she might aspire to be.
Even later the same day, Dasha, Kostya, Dave, Mike and I met cousin Ryan and his friend Greg at a microbrewery called The Dancing Camel, where we were able to make yet another spectacular connection. One of the bartenders, Ari, went to the same high school in the Philly suburb as Dave, Mike and Ryan, and graduated the same year as Dave and Ryan. After a while, Dave and Ari were able to figure out one or two people they both knew at school -- not an easy thing to do in a graduating class of more than 900. Dave writes more about this on his blog.
The next day, Monday, was much quieter. Kostya and my dad had left Tel Aviv at dawn to fly back to snow-covered St. Petersburg, and Mike and Dave were too hung over and sleep deprived to run into too much trouble. We spent most of the day meandering around the city. Promenaded again from Tel Aviv to Jaffo, climbed the hills of the ancient town, ate the famous hummus at Abu Hassan's, admired art at multiple galleries and even bought a few small pieces at almost reasonable prices, observed surfers crashing into the waves beyond the oldest port in the world, browsed the stalls of the Carmel market and bought a handmade belt at an art market nearby. By the virtue of Dave's Blackberry our path concluded at the doorstep of yet another brewery on Rothschild Boulevard, where everyone had beers including Karen who had a sparkling cider and that counts. Dave went to the airport directly from the brewery, with only a brief stop at the hotel to pick up the luggage and the rental car. Karen, Phil, and Mike departed in the middle of the night a few hours later.
For me, the trip continues for a few more days. Today I have discovered a concept of "medical tourism" and maybe I will try to blog about it soon.