Thursday, January 7, 2010

Tel Aviv shopping

Dave has been home for two days already, and his American doctor reluctantly confirmed the Israeli diagnosis even though normally it does not manifest itself suddenly and usually appears in both eyes. Neither of these are the case here, so the doctor asked Dave to come back in a couple of weeks. Dave is already back to work and everyday life. Doing the laundry, picking up packages, heating up Trader Joe's pizzas for dinner. Meantime I'm still in Tel Aviv, eating figs and dates for breakfast, shopping with my parents during the day, and meeting more friends and family in the evening.

Yesterday I spent the morning with my friend Vered whom I know from San Francisco State, a fellow comparatist who is now studying for her Ph.D. in Kent University in England. Vered picked me up at my hotel, and at first we tried to find a post office because I have a couple of letters to mail -- but the one post office we found had its floor and ceiling torn out for some sort of renovation. Then Vered guided us to a Bauhaus Center on Dizengoff street because I expressed an interest in learning something about the history of Tel Aviv's Bauhaus movement. I don't want to call this center a tourist trap -- it's too small even for that & indeed the books and the souvenirs they sell are on par with the books and souvenirs they sell at the NYMOMA. I think there needs to be a special word for the museums where the exhibit space is smaller than the shop space. Here, this was definitely the case: the exhibit was located on the open gallery of the second floor, and the shop occupied the entire first floor. We bought some postcards and cool erasable pens that later turned out to be broken and had to be returned. So next Vered and I opted to do something where our expectations couldn't be foiled and joined Vered's sister, her 4-month old niece, and their friend for breakfast at a cafe in Neve Tzedek. The coffee was delicious, the conversation absorbing, and the baby cheerful despite expanding red mosquito bites on her cheeks.

Tel Aviv is a small big city, the kind of city where once you're out on the street you're bound to run into your neighbor and the guy you went to high school with 15 years ago. Also the kind of the city where everyone is in your business and has an opinion about what you should or shouldn't do to keep your baby from crying or what skirt you should or shouldn't wear. Shopping for clothes has been an easy and a pleasurable experience here. "No, no!" a sales lady is waving her finger at me. I'm afraid I've done something wrong, but she's just trying to be helpful. "This skirt is too narrow for you! Try this one. This color looks better. More wide." She's spreading her arms to indicate that the blue skirt will sit on my hips much better than the brown. I appreciate being told what to do, so I buy accordingly. Most of the clothes I've been trying on here are one-size-fits-all, and it's the kind of size that fits me perfectly. I already own a bunch of shirts to match my new skirts, because every time my mom comes here she ends up buying something for me too. The trick to Israeli fashion I figured out on this trip is to wear short skirts with thick stockings or leggings -- I think this will hold up in San Francisco winter.


  1. It's noteworthy that you found such good coffee - a majority of coffee I had in Israel is Nescafe, and everything else felt like somebody making an effort to please a foreigner. I wonder if Israelis like Nescafe -- or the good stuff is too complicated or expensive to be worth it.

  2. I used to only drink instant in Russia. Took me years and moving to SF to start liking regular coffee. With instant, you never have to worry about it being bitter or not strong enough -- you make it the way you like it..