Showing posts with label Lifestyle. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Lifestyle. Show all posts

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Conspicuous Consumption: Luxury Lifestyle in Israel

Certainly uncommon but not rare: luxury cars like this Maserati are showing up on Tel Aviv streets
Israelis are not big on showing off their wealth. There is still a pioneering socialist attitude from over a century of lifestyle based on socialist values. Israel started shifting from state sponsored socialism in the 1970s, yet signs of the shift are not completely clear from a street view. Luxury items are plentiful in shops, but when it comes to cars, it's a different story. The love affair with cars and driving started here in the 1980s. It started with demand from average Israelis for the first family cars. Subaru from Japan turned out to be the popular brand Israelis could afford. At first Japanese manufacturers (Toyota, Honda, Nissan and Mazda) did not sell due to the Arab boycott. But for the first time family cars were affordable and started the love affair in cars. 

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Weekend Life in Startup City (Tel Aviv and Surroundings)

Israelis are constantly looking to balance intense work schedule with family life

Israel's intense startup life takes a break on the Sabbath. Family life takes back seat during the week, but on weekends (Friday and Saturday) the pendulum swings a bit to the side of leisure. Some see this weekly break as a way to compensate for the intense focus on work. There is a bit on nostalgia in Israel for days where family and especially children where the focus of attention. These nostalgic feelings seem to come from parents who grew up in simpler times here. Israel's meteoric technological and economic progress, going on for decades now, has changed many basic family lifestyle habits. With higher expenses and much larger economy, demands on personal time have gone up. To some older Israelis this change is alarming. But younger Israelis make the choice to focus on work rather than family willingly. Israelis have a perspective on a shift in focus from one generation to the next. While some younger Israelis are nostalgic, others put up with change. This means putting more into children's events. The "birthday party in the park" with "activities" - is one sign of the changing times.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Investing in "Lifestyle": Showing Up Everywhere

Flowers, trees, public bicycles and cleaner streets are a big part of local government spending today

Israel's focus on domestic lifestyle growth is slowly showing signs of life. In the past few years, Israel's perspective of urban lifestyle became a focus point. While government and private organizations were not as keen on investing in local lifestyle in the past, attitudes toward living standards have changed. The average Israeli's street view is changing for the better. Streets are cleaner, renovated where needed and even policed more frequently. To me it seems as if local government is taking outdoor life more seriously. Following the example of cities around the world, streets, parks and public spaces are cleaner, better maintained and more comfortable. There is a hidden story here. I think it relates to the change of attitude toward the hard criticism of government policies the last few years. This type of writing is best done by political writers, especially in mainstream media outlets (newspapers, TV). Yet here is my take on things:

Monday, March 7, 2016

Shopping Still Strong in Israel

Givatay'im mall at a quiet weekday morning. Shopping at a street level has actually increased recently.

Israel somehow averted the global downturn of 2008. This makes for over two decades of steady growth (see Bank of Israel statistic). Some attribute this to the cautious Israeli bank lending policies. The average Israeli who wants to qualify for a mortgage needs to show ability to pay off a loan more convincingly than in other countries. Certainly more than in the US (see the recent movie "The Big Short") even after the sub-prime Wall Street fiasco. Some attribute the strong economy to fast move into new technology start-up sectors and security (i.e. military, internet cyber) sectors. Either way, the Israeli economy is growing steadily. This puts pressure on consumer sectors. The building industry has been suffering for years from slow growth and new home prices continue to see inflation year after year (2015 home prices in Tel Aviv increased by 8%). The state (in making land available), builders (due to labor shortage) and even banks are not "building" enough new housing. Demand is simply growing much faster than supply.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Live on a Green Street

One of Givatay'im's "green blocks" is Shenkin Street. Nice gardening example in this side entrance.
Some new visitors to Tel Aviv and the surrounding areas are surprised by "all the green". Which is a bit strange these days. Maybe twenty years ago, when drip irrigation was unknown around the globe and when the "Green Line" did not have political connotation, that was excusable. But today this is not the case. A big part of Israel's quality of life effort goes to giving everyone the means to beautify their surroundings. While real estate agents do not promote this one factor heavily, apartment seekers favor green streets. In Tel Aviv and surrounding towns, municipalities are investing into "greening" public places and residential streets. When looking for an apartment to rent or buy in Tel Aviv, make the green factor into account. Once you start looking for these hidden gems, you will have a new perspective on Israel.


Sunday, January 24, 2016

Live Where the Burgers are Served

Burgers and fries are a popular fast food in Israel, which is the best place? That you have to figure for yourself.

It's a funny question, but we get it all the time: do you have good burgers and fries in Israel? Or from Israelis coming to Tel Aviv: is there a good burger joint in town? Or is all the food here just falafel and humus? I have a few friends who love burgers and fries. Some are American expats who remember their days when McDonald's and Wendy's duked it out on TV commercials (where is the beef crowed the old lady in the drive-in). Recently someone asked me if there is a "White Castle in Tel Aviv" - especially at 3:00AM, in a dark street where you can only drive through. Sadly I do not know of a place anywhere close to these amazing late night delights (I have to admit of downing a few of these "six packs" at a dark street somewhere in S. New Jersey in the 1970s). If you are out for a good burger, ask friends or even strangers. Seems like everyone has an opinion on what is the best burger in town.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Comfortable Safe Haven: Cafes, Shops, Malls, Parks, Beaches

Last post was about the daily stress in Israel. But most Israelis probably are not more stressed than any modern (i.e. western) people. There is stress related to the security situation, especially when there is an incident close to home. The shooting in Tel Aviv earlier this month (January 1st, 2016) reminded everyone of this situation. But Israelis see this situation similar to crime in some cities, difficult weather in many places or even stress related to economic difficulties. Every place (or person) around the world has it's problems and difficulties. This is what people say here. Yet in reality, many people avoid this stress and find comfort in traditional and creative ways. Israelis in cities head for cafes and restaurants. Tel Aviv is well known for it's cafes and restaurants as places to escape the daily stress. Around most of Israel parks and beaches attract people looking for quiet places to meet. Even the large malls, almost everywhere, have places to sit and get away from everyday stress. Outsiders usually need to look at a few places and meet a few people to get a true picture of how people handle stress.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Pressure Cooker in Everyday Life: Stress on the Job

Security guards in public buildings feel more stress than most Israelis

A recent incident with a mall security guard brought out the stress some Israelis feel: daily ongoing tension. Simply put, some jobs and situations are stressful here. Security guards in public places: shopping malls, government buildings, business parks, outdoor markets (shuks) and fenced public areas (beaches, parks) are at the top of daily stress list. Security guards in public spaces are about a notch above cleaning personal in respect and pay. Which is somewhat out of place (and unfortunate). They are paid at a low salary scale, they usually work under freelance contract in security contract companies (i.e. they are not permanent employees with full social benefits). While their working conditions are below average, they are expected to deliver vigilant accurate service at all times. Most guards are calm and present a professional image. They check bags for suspicious objects. Sometimes they ask a few questions to see if someone is nervous or seems suspicious. While Israeli security services pride themselves on superior training and highly qualified guards, Israel's economy and culture create a different reality. Here is a salute and a tip of a hat to these unsung heroes. More in future posts...


Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Intel's 2004 Guide for Doing Business in Israel ruffles feathers

From the book "International Business: Theory and Practice" by Ehud Menipaz, Amit Menipaz (Google book preview)

A long time ago (probably as far back as 2004) Intel published guidelines for "doing business in Israel". Israel's bloggers hit on this document recently when a photo from a trade-show presentation was posted on social media sites. Apparently the document was written by an outside consultant to help American visitors from Intel to get along with Israeli technologists and business managers. Intel has benefited tremendously from their Israeli operations. From chip design to semiconductor manufacturing, Israel has been one of the more productive and certainly innovative locations for the company. That said, Intel has also been very much and American company. This was true for the company until recently, when the company started to branch out around the globe. What Israelis did not worry about a decade ago, is the image of how we do business and cooperate with foreigners. Intel can somehow guide their workers to work better with Israelis. Some foreigners from around the world may not feel the need to do so. I wonder if companies like Yamaha (from Japan), Samsung (from S. Korea) or ABB (from Sweden) will guide their managers when dealing with Israelis. Comments welcome...

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

North Tel Aviv Construction

Beautiful repeating geometric shapes in new north Tel Aviv neighborhood, Derech Namir, Nov. 2015

Tel Aviv proper does not have large tracts of land for new construction. The few empty areas have been spared so far are falling in the hands of developers. Old areas which can be cleared (as the old produce wholesale market on the Cheshmonaim street and the IDF headquarters) are also turning into target for luxury apartment builders. The shift from low cost mass construction to luxury is steady and strong. Waves of large immigration, which defined Israel's construction style in the past, are not expected in the near future. With the continued economic growth of the state, both consumers and builders are looking to buy bigger and better-finished apartments. Also the demand to live in the Tel Aviv area is stronger than ever before. Building large luxury neighborhoods in central Israel is strong now and should continue unless a major economic change hits.

Monday, November 30, 2015

More dense construction in Tel Aviv & Surroundings

View of Ramat Gan and beyond (Judea hills in the background) with dense construction typical of Israel's central region

On the last post I mentioned how the green central region of Israel is slowly turning into a "gray" over-built "Brooklyn". It was a comment based on the view from Gan Ha'Banim (boys or children park) overlooking Ramat Gan (and some distant eastern Tel Aviv suburbs.) Tel Aviv and surrounding suburbs construction density reflects the waves of fast construction the last century (Tel Aviv's first big spurt was in the 1920s and 30s). Ramat Gan and Givatay'im, the suburbs east of Tel Aviv have seen bursts of construction in the 1950s to the 1970s. Today's central region of Israel, surrounding Tel Aviv, is densely populated. Most construction styles were low cost, fast in deployment and answered the need for housing after big immigration waves. The last wave of construction came with a million Russian (former Soviet Republics) immigrants starting in 1991. Today there are still empty lots being filled with the smaller buildings rising to eight stories. Taller buildings rise from fourteen to twenty four stories. The lower construction style is seen filling sections where most existing buildings are four stories high. In new areas, where land is designated for new neighborhoods, buildings are at minimum eight stories and rise to twenty four stories. Debate over the intent and overall result of high density, high-rise construction, is a constant hum in the media. Resistance to create dense neighborhoods, sometimes referred to "Israel's Brooklyn" after the construction of large residential buildings in the famous New York city borough is strong.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Legal Graffiti @ TLV Central Bus Station #5

Stencil like mural depicts some graffiti seen on Tel Aviv streets

Here is another mural from the Tel Aviv legal graffiti exhibit. This one in a stencil style looks like many small graffiti drawings seen on city streets. Stencil drawings are fast and easy to get on walls. They are also easy to create with simple computer programs. Some CAD machines can actually cut shapes in cardboard or thin plywood sheets. These make excellent stencils. Keep on coming, more pictures from Tel Aviv's streets and hidden "legal" graffiti life as I troll the city.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Gan Ha'Ir - Baby Mommy Playground

Playground for babies and moms at the lower level of Gan-Ha'Ir (Iben Gvirol next to Rabin square

Tel Aviv has the image of a busy metropolitan center. Some assume it's all business, mostly for adults, and a bit of a playground for the millennials.  But as a city goes, there are plenty of babies and children being raised as well. Gan Ha'Ir is a somewhat misplaced high-ticket "mall" of sorts. A few upscale boutiques in an open air setting. It is hard to pin down this cluster of shops, although they seem to attract enough business to keep the upscale image. On the lower floor of this large open space, two fenced playground for babies and moms is a well known attraction. On most weekday mornings the playgrounds are buzzing with babies, mommies and nannies. Next to the playgrounds is a small counter with soup, salad and fallafel run by natural food supermarket. The two floors of Gan-Ha'Ir have a large selection of upscale shops, a wonderful place to buy boutique quality items and favorite gift shopping destination for Tel Avivians.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Stencilled Graffiti Near Dizengoff Center in Tel Aviv

Some small graffiti stencils are designed to promote a product or a message / @ DAVider 2015

Tel Aviv's Graffiti artists are not always out to show their artistic creativity. Some are simply out to promote a product or even an event (a musical concert, street or public gathering). Hidden in side alleys and walls away from the main foot traffic, these small stencils are interesting commentary of some of the hidden culture in Tel Aviv. This small stencil was painted on a wall a block north of Dizengoff Center. One of Tel Aviv's largest shopping malls (and oldest ~ most established one).

Saturday, October 3, 2015

One Last Dip at Gordon Beach, Tel Aviv

Bathers at the last rays on Gordon Beach (#TelAviv) / 2 Oct. 2015 / @ DAVider 2015
This year's combination of hot late summer with long new year school vacation is giving Tel Avivians a bit longer on the beach. End of summer is less hectic and there is plenty of room to stretch out (or read a book or have a quiet conversation with a friend)  Dogs are not missing out on this one.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Dogs in Tel Aviv Cafes

A small Grayhound looking dog at the Streets / Ibn Gvirol @ DAVider 2015
An interesting phenomena in Tel Aviv cafes is the presence of dogs. Usually lying quietly under a table, barely noticeable. American and Asian visitors are taken back the first time, European visitors are less surprised. Once in a while there are really beautiful dogs, exceptional and rare - this is one example

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Ben Gurion Boulevard - End of Summer

Ben Gurion boulevard walkway on a hot summer afternoon

Tel Aviv is hot and quiet this time of year. Even the large shaded boulevards (Ben Gurion in this picture) are not attracting people in the early evening hours. When the temperatures run between 85 and 90 Deg. F, most residents prefer an air conditioned cafe to walking the shaded boulevards. While kids are off school and many workers are on vacation, you would think city streets should be full. But to the contrary, the streets seemed to have been emptied as by a magic spell.


Wednesday, September 16, 2015

End of Summer Last Outing in Tel Aviv

Off Dizengoff street restaurants & cafes attract a solid crowd, End of summer outings at it's peak

This year's high holiday week (between Rosh Ha'shana & Yom Kippur) falls at the end of the summer. School kids are back in their seats, just to have a ten day vacation. This year it was four days, then two days. Teachers and parents complain about the constant on-again-off-again schedule. Restaurateurs and cafe owners are busier than normal. The weather and vacation together brings the crowds out.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Skies Clearing - Still Hot

4th day of haze, dust storms from Syria (north east) bring fine dust and hot weather © A Vider 2015
Why write and photograph Tel Aviv's hazy skies? That's not an important issue, most people are not concerned about bad weather a few days a year. It's the strange sense of being mildly irritated from missing great late-summer weather that's the news. Not really news, as much as an observation with regard to change is preferences. Because Israel is such a great place to live, weather wise, somehow this is an issue. In Tel Aviv we expect hot summers, but not intolerable (this is not the Libyan Sahara or the Arabian desert of Qatar). Strange how Tel Avivians take for granted the weather, and then when it turns hazy for three days, it becomes a news item. Just one indication of something we enjoy and sometimes take for granted.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Trouble With Fast Economic Growth: Growing Socioeconomic Gap

Iron Dome military system has implication well beyond a security system
The last two years, Israel's educated middle class started protesting a widening socioeconomic gap. This gap, seem to be widening every day, is more visible in the upper middle classes. Upper classes brought about by strong economic growth in a few small sectors. There are many more luxury apartments going up, more new luxury cars on the street (new Ferrari and Maserati dealerships), and many more shops with items not seen here before. But there are also difficulties to some which are also a new surprise to many. College educated and well trained professionals are no longer assured a well paying job and a comfortable middle class lifestyle. As the number of luxury high-rise apartments is going up at alarming rate, it seems like everybody is enjoying this great economic growth. But as you look more carefully, that's not the whole story. In market segments where the economic growth is concentrated, like construction, high-tech, finance, and luxury retail, the benefactors are not necessarily “yeled tov Yerushalayim” (a good boy from Jerusalem), well educated middle class professionals.