Showing posts with label Feeling. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Feeling. Show all posts

Friday, May 5, 2017

Spring Once Again, Catching Up

Spring flowers from a small succulent in my window, cool wet weather makes for a colorful spring / 

It has been a long time since my last post. Personal and work changes kept me away from the blog. Yet the seasons keep on going and we are at spring time suddenly. This year winter was warm and the rains did not make up for the long drought. Spring came slowly but it certainly here. Passover came and went, for me quietly. Somehow with less political noise (Trump election in the US, no political change in Israel) there seem to be a quiet in the land. The media is just as noisy and controversial, but otherwise things are quieter. There is also a sense of less drastic change, no wars, even small ones.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Unofficial Survey: Less Money Equals Higher Quality

Is this a philosophical question? Not really, it is a basic question we ask of ourselves when most big decisions are made. Somehow, with all the big events in the world, this question seem more relevant today. I wondered what Israelis feel with the global economic downturn, differences between Netanyahu's policies and a new American administration and the continuation of Ahmadinejad in Iran. The thinking goes that when the economy was strong people were more concerned about making money than enjoying life. Now that there is less business and fewer opportunities people would enjoy life more (other stressing events emphasize this more). Two friends just came back from the US reported on Americans also getting back to basics. Family, home, community, the basic things in life are back in focus. Here we see reports of bank failures and government bailouts - is America on a verge of a crash? Not so people say, the opposite, they are hustling for their next big-gig. So how do people really think and feel? Israel is different from the US in people's extremism. In the US to be extreme is considered good: the richest, smartest, first, fastest, most ambitious... not so in Israel. Here social culture is more communal: family, school class, neighborhood, army unit - the group and your belonging have higher value than individual qualities. At least that was the thinking for the last generation (50+ year olds). Israelis in their 20s to 40s seem to have taken on the American values and follow career and money. Some say it is just a lifestyle choice: an evening in the park with the kids or a plane ride to a far away hotel. But wait a minute, there are still strong signs of traditional family life here. So maybe the economic downturn is an opportunity to go back to basics?

I decided to look for signs of life in the family and quality of life front. An unofficial survey of friends indicates a return to home and family preference. People see their lives different from just a year ago (when world economy just started falling). If the slow economy started people feeling better about family, work conditions is what people really clinched it. People feel that work is too much of a burden, it takes too much time out of life. What people say is deceiving sometimes. Actions are usually a better indicator of changes in behavior. Are Israelis spending less time in bars and restaurants? Do they shop less in boutiques? Do they keep their cars and refrigerators a little longer? A walk in Tel Aviv parks during evening hours definitely reveals more families picnicking and kids playing. Restaurants and bars are visibly empty, just a year ago any good restaurant had a line. With cars you can tell things are bad, there have been more discount deals and large car billboard advertisements than ever before. In the papers there are articles comparing the features of new cars, but also articles about buyers waiting for the change in technology to hybrid or electricity. Once in a while you see a shiny Chrysler or Lexus on the road, they stick out so much, people stare as if the owners are shouting, I don't care about the economy, this was the deal of the decade. Never mind, some people need their shiny cars...


Saturday, April 25, 2009

A week between sadness and pride

This week is a secular events week in Tel Aviv. Last week was the holocaust memorial day and this week is Israel independence day and secular remembrance for the Israeli soldiers day. It feels like the secular days of awe, equivalent to the days between Rosh Ha'shana (Jewish new year) and Yom Kippur (day of atonement). Holocaust memorial in Tel Aviv this year felt quiet. As if everyone said "shhh... let me do this alone" inside their head. The slow economy is helping, there are less people in cafes and window shopping. Tel Aviv is celebrating 100 and there is a sense of how this city is uniquely Israeli. The sense of something built in a way that was not built before but without really throwing everything away. It is a strange concepts to think of Tel Aviv as the first completely Israeli city. Until Israel had confidence in it's own culture it was called the first Jewish city in 2,000 years.

Rounding Up Jews

If you ask most Israelis they would tell you how strange and painful holocaust memorial has been. For years the survivors did not want to mention what they went through. Today when they are in their 70's and 80's we actually have more awareness and there is a trend of new stories in the media (a new TV series and many new books). But we also find survivors poor and without the ability to stand for themselves. The state feels guilty about the way people who went through hell are treated (badly). On the opposite end, holocaust memorial ceremonies are being celebrated (ostentatiously? some say). It seems like a sad turn of events to feel this way. There is no way not to be confused about the most violent event in our history. There is no way to care for people who "went to hell and came back to tell about it" and feel in any way satisfied. Many holocaust survivors say that living in Israel and seeing children and grandchildren thrive is the best revenge to Hitler. That may be true for some. If this is the case, Tel Aviv as the first real Israeli city is even a bigger revenge.

But for some reason very few people seem to feel revengeful. Contrary to what you may hear from Arab and European media, Tel Avivians just want to live in peace. They are much more worried about daily issues like real estate prices and job security than revenge against Arabs or Germans. With two generations between World War II and today, this makes sense. On the other hand, the scars from the past do affect our pride and desire to keep our country and city alive. More than that, if revenge means living, we are living like there is no tomorrow. There is passion for life here. Tel Aviv, a thriving city, is a result of this drive to live fully and create something for the next generation. This sense of responsibility for the future is not something people talk about, but the feeling is there.

This mix of a responsibility to the past and responsibility to the future is an interesting situation. I have not seen this in many other new cities. Some places want to be old and stay that way. Jerusalem is a good example. For the most part even building style is still an echo to surviving architecture of 400 years ago. Tel Aviv did not try to mimic Islamic or Turkish or even crusade era architecture. But it also does not try to erase the period architecture from the early days of the city. It is not a modern landscape like you see in Europe and even in the modernized Asian cities. People tend to decide how a place look and Tel Aviv style echoes the feeling of remembering the past and worrying about the future.


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Jerusalem quiet and busy -- why worry about life?

Jerusalem city
If you go to Jerusalem walk around where the locals are walking. Visit the shook (open market), take a walk along the main streets. They are old and narrow and crowded and a little noisy. But not too noise and very little shouting and pushing. I go to Jerusalem about once a week and just realized the difference in the people. They seem to be always going somewhere with a purpose. Not a purpose of buying groceries or picking socks for the kids. A purpose bigger than that. Then I noticed a middle aged man standing at a bus stop reading from a big "religious book". One of these large books the size of an encyclopedia volume with simple black cover and simple Hebrew lettering. I wanted to ask him about his life or what he was reading, but did not want to intrude. So I pretended to be lost and asked directions to a distant part of town, Talpiot, 'which bus goes there'. He quickly looked at me and gave me the bus numbers and the alternatives of how to get there. He noticed that I was not from Jerusalem, not just the question for direction, probably the dress and the accent and the somewhat look of being in a foreign place. So he asked me if I am lost but I was not really lost. I said quickly, looks like in Jerusalem everybody knows where he is going.

He answered right away: "we are not lost like the people in Tel Aviv". I think he meant "we are not searching like the secular people anywhere else". Suddenly it made sense. These people are already where they want to be. Most people wherever they are think that they need to get somewhere different (better?). They need more respect, a better tittle at work, a better home, job, car, wife... you name it... they need to GET SOMEWHERE to be SOMEBODY. But for the religious Jews in Jerusalem they ARE where they should be. The next stop on this train is somewhere not on this earth, so Jerusalem IS the last stop! So as far as where they live, there is no other place they need to go. So that would explain the feeling of comfort with the city. Jerusalem itself is not exactly a pretty place. It is certainly not very well kept and clean or even organized. There is always construction, the old and now new areas are crowded, there is always movement. Someone is always going somewhere and they are in front, beside, or behind you. But that does not feel like anywhere else, it's just busy and quiet.

On the way back I tried to imagine what Tel Aviv would be like if everyone felt like they are where they are suppose to be. Than I tried to imagine New York City and San Francisco. It just didn't make sense. Everywhere you go there are people who simply make you feel like you are not suppose to be there, that you need to go somewhere else. Some cities do have their prototypical residents. New Yorkers always tell you that it's the greatest city on earth, Parisians don't have to tell you, they just give you that look. But in Jerusalem they just go about living it. Nobody is really welcoming and helpful or even courteous. They simply give you the feeling that this is "THE PLACE". Read More...