Showing posts with label Local. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Local. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Lobby - Pickup Bars, Strong Drinks, and Quiet Streets

No need for refined graphics, "The Lobby" is quiet and classy.

"The Lobby" is a small bar on Bazel Street (#30) in Tel Aviv. It opened two years ago in a very quiet location. I can't believe that the owners planned on opening a pick-up bar with strong drinks. Well, this is not exactly a "classical" pick-up bar. The location is just one aspect. Most people would assume that a pick-up bar is going to be in a desolate industrial zone where there is plenty of room and parking and only the desperate and sexually adventurous would be trolling dark bars in search of a one-night-stand. Pick-up bars also come in the glitzier variety catering to lonely business types with a few extra dollars to buy a broken hearted girl a drink. Somehow "The Lobby" has become what I would call a "locals'" pickup bar. Since tourists and business travelers usually take over the bar scene in the city in search of a willing one-nighters partner, there has to be a place for the locals. My "locals" term is describing not just Tel Avivians but also out of town Israelis looking for Israelis and not foreigners. You may think that this is a little discriminatory on the side of Tel Avivians or even Israelis. But a few visits to "The Lobby" and you will see that the place is comfortable and friendly. There is the sexual tension of a pickup bar but also a feel of a friendly neighborhood drinking hole. To some this makes "The Lobby" a less intimidating place.
      The Lobby is essentially a small room that holds about 30 people. There is a long counter on the right side of the room where two barman mix strong traditional drinks. Doreen the waitress (a twenty something divorce lawyer by day) was recommending the large Mojito (a liter of rum, sugar, and your favorite juice with lime) or a Long Island Ice Tea. On hot Tel Aviv summer nights, the Caribbean drinks seem to be the weapon of choice here. "The Lobby" is furnished in comfortable seating, high tables and chairs and decent bar stools at the counter. There is definitely a "regulars" arrangement with reserved spots at the counter and some reserved tables. The lighting is muted but not the kind of dark that you can't see a face 10 feet in front of you.
      The drinks are strong and big. Besides the regular western (European) drinks there is a good selection of Caribbean / Cuban / Mexican drinks. I was a little disappointed when they didn't have a traditional summer Sangria with ice. "The Lobby's" version is served warm for cold winter nights. Staff at "The Lobby" is young and energetic. They greet most guests as if they are regulars, even the ones which are there for the first time. Even a group of 20 something girls which seem to have one-nigher pickup on their mind seem to be welcomed by Doreen and the barman. Overall I give "The Lobby" a high score. If you are looking for a comfortable neighborhood bar for a good drink and a slice of pizza this is the spot. If you are looking for a pickup bar, come here on Wed. to Friday (the other nights are a little slow). [The Lobby, 30 Bazel, Tel: 03-5462714 - Note: This area has little to no parking at night.] Read More...

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Pictures from around the city - Tel Aviv, Israel

Tel Aviv has a surprising variety of things to look at. Lots of people ask me what you see when you are looking around. So here are a few pictures of all kind of things...
Synagogue sign, Yehosua Ben-Noon street

The streets of the city look different from hour to hour. Busy streets are virtually abandoned - fashionable cafes turn to ghost palaces...

Quiet Bugrashov cafe in mid-day, it will be hard to find a seat come 11:00 PM!

Young artists come in all forms and shapes. Tel Aviv has the blend of street art, classical art, and even religious and antique art. Here is a little of the street art.

Graffiti off Bugrashov Street. Hip stores lend their windows as canvas.

Quiet streets full of shade are abandoned on hot summer days. On Friday evening Chev (Haim Nachman // Bialik) Street will be full of family strollers pushing babies along.

Empty Chen Boulevard on a hot summer morning

Protest, solidarity, political activism is a daily part of Tel Aviv. But with a city which has every type of religion and political view, most gatherings are not that exciting.

Protest-Solidarity for the Sderot bombings (February 2008)

Monday, July 14, 2008

The quality of isolation: creativity, independence, self reliance

The other day a small film crew was interviewing an Israeli Blogger in Dizengoff Center. There was not real fuss, just two video cameras, lights, a producer and a director and two people with a little too much makeup having coffee. I remember seeing huge film crew in San Francisco and New York. Once in a while in a Boston suburb. But in Tel Aviv you can see little art being made all over the place. Besides the regular artist area south of the Shalom Tower, and the somewhat artificial artsy old Yaffo, there are little studios and workshops in the strangest areas of the city.

A blogger interview in Dizengoff Center: typical of lots of small productions in Tel Aviv
There is also a somewhat vivid post secondary art community with all kind of programs. Lately it seems like the film schools are buzzing with action all over the place. Most of the students use somewhat old professional equipment, I have no idea where they get it, but it's probably whatever still works from the TV channels, leftover foreign crew equipment, and whatever the Israeli army has not munged to death. The army trains lots of photographers and a fair number of videographers. When the intifadas where going full tilt, there were lots of video people all over the place. Every demonstration and odd activity was filmed and the Palestinians knew how to avoid these hidden lenses. This is what eventually got them to adopt the full head cover with the keffiyeh, that famous Arab scarf in the distinctive white and black or red pattern.
Jump Cut school for editors and animators - art in the city?!
But as you may imagine, filming riots of Palestinian and Israeli army "action" does not a film maker makes. Israel and to some extent Tel Aviv are going through a metamorphosis of sort. Small trade schools which were essential technical institutes for all kind of trades are growing quickly. Mostly because the universities are not big enough to take all the students which want to attend. Also, there are many new areas which excite young people which the universities have never taught. So the film, editing, photo, and performing art institutes are growing like a runner on steroids. Which is not a bad thing at all. So enjoy the original Israeli movies, music, and dance.
So back to the title, if you were still wondering what this is all about? If Israel had relationships with Arab countries, for example Egypt, Israelis would probably opt to go an study there. Unbeknown to most westerners, the Egyptian film industry is only second to to the Indian Bollywood and the American Hollywood. Egyptian film industry dwarfs anything in Europe, Africa, and Asia! But total cultural and trade isolation gives Israeli schools an opportunity to thrive. Sometimes and they say, you got to make lemonade from lemons... just leave the sugar out for me ;-)
Film makers and producers - all kind of schools...
Jump Cut - School for editors and animators
Minshar - Open University film program (BA)

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The feeling of Tel Aviv

What is Tel Aviv? How does it feel to be in Tel Aviv? This city is the Queen City of Israel. Tel Aviv is so much more than just 500,000 people, brick and mortar. This is a city with a positive attitude. A city on the move where the city administration take pride in it. You will find improving infrastructure work all over town.

This is a city where people work. We have the lowest unemployment in the country (less than 2%). Tel Avivians work hard and play hard. Some people who don't live here express their jealousy by saying that Tel Aviv doesn't really express the old, let's all suffer together like in good old days of socialism.

Well, we Tel Avivians have a different attitude. We are a bit self centered and enjoy the good things a city has to offer. To those who don't like us, sam-D-man says: too bad!

Tel Aviv is a city of capitalism. Socialism is dead in Tel Aviv. This is a city of dynamic private enterprise. People from all over the world want to come to Tel Aviv to do business. This city is open 24 X 7.

The people have an attitude that they are important to the country and should be an example You get the feeling of life as you sit in a cafe or restaurant in the city.

This is the city that makes the country tick. Our beautiful beaches are packed with Tel Avivians enjoying our city. This is one of the greatest cities in the world to work, play, or vacation in.

We love Tel Aviv, sam-d-man

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Magic Burger on Iben Gvirol - not battling burgers

There is an old clipping from five years ago on the wall of Magic Burger (64 Iben Gvirol, T"A 03-6956782, 11:00AM to 5:00AM) about the battle of the burgers. This was all the talk of the town a few years ago, when "real burgers" came to town. I am not sure what makes a real burger, or really "un-real burger". I guess the McDonald's and Burger Ranch are not "real burgers". The Magic Burger is definitely considered "REAL". It is made from freshly ground beef or lamb. You get it made your way with a choice of toppings. There are about 10 sources to choose from... and, it is made right in front of you while you sit at the bar and chat with the guy next to you. Well, for most of us 'Anglos' this seems like the standard burger joint anywhere off the beaten track US of A. But for Tel Aviv this is a very special place. The burgers are really great! No question about it, quality of ingredients and attention to customers really counts. Specially in something as simple as a burger. Magic Burger is basically a bar with a few tables outside. When the weather is nice, you are in luck. But on a hot day, as we are getting into July and August, this is not the place to eat a burger comfortably.

Soldiers and students lunching on Magic Burgers
The burgers themselves come in 200, 300, and 400 gram sizes. Most people seem to order the 200 gram "meal" - which includes fries (deep fried and hot flat round REAL potato kind) with a soft drink. There are also a few beers to choose from. There are other things on the menu like salads, but I have never seen anyone eat them (they do send them out at night for takeout). Toppings are excellent but basic, tomato, onion, lettuce, pickle, fried onion, and hot peppers. Sauces are a nice touch here from spicy chili to mayonnaise, 10,000 island, to ketchup and BBQ. Takeout business is mostly in the evening when people stop by to take dinner home. But you do see the occasional secretary ordering 5 burgers for 'the boys'.
All eys on the fries - and the BURGER MAKER
The most interesting aspect of Magic Burger is the clientele. You will find the from delivery jockeys just off their Tus-Tus, to army officers, to slicked out corporate managers, to moms with strollers... you get the point. If you are used just to fast food crowed don't be surprised to find a few executives in the crowd. If you are in the Gan Ha'Ir / City Hall area, stop by a burger at the "magic" Read More...

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Dizengoff Food Fair - Just like mama use to cook

... well, not EXACTLY! but maybe? well YES! Tel Aviv culinary world has one of the most diverse cultural backgrounds you can find. The only problem is that you have to travel all over town to sample from African to American, Asian to European... except on Thursdays and Fridays when the food fair at Dizengoff center goes into action. Some 40 to 50 vendors sell from Moroccan and Libyan traditional dishes to Argentinian Chorisso and Empanadas, Chinese Dim-Sum to traditional eastern European Jewish delicacies. Add Sushi, fresh baked Druze pittas, American style baked potatoes, and various sweets like mini-pancakes and old fashion middle-eastern baklava in Iraqi style. Well, you get the point of the title, no matter where your 'mama' came from, you would probably find something traditional and familiar.

Freshly steamed Chinese Dim_Sum, absolutely wonderful.
On a recent Friday afternoon I headed to Dizengoff center for a snack or two. There are so many things here and some have become a favorite, that I have to admit of not sampling many of the stands. On the first floor near entrance #6 you have a small clump of stands away from the main push and shove center (that's on the bottom floor next to Ace hardware). Here I found a Dim-Sum stand with freshly steaming bamboo trays teaming with a dozen different dumplings (both vegetarian and meat). Right next to it is the baked potato stand with a large iron oven and rows of toppings. A few steps away is a cookie stand with a selection of fat free and sugar free cookies besides the traditional ones. Finally you find a cheese stand where you can buy about a dozen specialty cheeses, mostly European.
Dishing out some traditional north African comfort food
But the real action is downstairs. Here in a little corner of this vast cavern of a space are about 20 stands who serve north African (4 stands), Asian (3 stands), south American, fruit salads and shakes, deserts (3 stands) and various other ethnic creations. Most of the dishes are warm and just been cooked in the morning. The sushi is rolled right in front of your eyes and you can even choose the ingredients yourself. Juices and shakes are mixed to your taste. Basically you are not going to leave hungry ;8~)'' ~~ and if you don't want to heat here, just ask the vendor to pack-it up "TO-GO" and you are free from the toil of cooking this evening. Well, that's all for today...
Next: sampling the big-HEAVY dishes, because there is nothing like mama's cookin'
Next-Next: and let the sweet tooth decide, in search for the perfect small sweet...
Next-Next-Next: walking around the mall, the food all over the walkways - little surprises behind every turn... or something else. Read More...

Monday, June 23, 2008

If looks could kill... Baeuty City 2008 Fair

Looking good is important in Tel Aviv. This flies straignt in the face of the very confusing image of the rough and schlumpy Israeli woman. The image that Israeli women tried to portray in the 1950's was of pioneering all can do superwoman. Milk the cows in the morning, raise the kids in the day, guard the border at night. But the city reality of Israeli women was a little different. Fashion and beauty supplies came with Europeans very early on. Whatever Israeli women could not afford local companies made here. Jump forward 50 years to 2008 and the Israeli woman, a mix of every imaginable culture is very much interested in fashion and beauty. There are a dozen Israeli beauty supply companies, some with international reputation. Ahava started out as a Dead Sea specialty company, and Jade is well knows here but a bit of a 'hidden secret' outside Israel.

A crema counter with samples and plenty to buy.

Let's face it, Tel Aviv is not considered a fashion center. I would say YET! But if you are a woman, this city is nothing to laugh about. It's true that most Israeli designers have looked elsewhere to develop their careers and their businesses. But women still want to look beautiful and there is plenty of products and services to help them. In the beginning of June Tel Aviv hosted a Beauty City 2008 fair. About 30 makeup, hair, and fashion companies gathered at the Tel Aviv fairgrounds and showed off their "product". It turned out to be a mix between a fashion show and a 50% off sale. Let's face it, these little bottles of beauty don't come cheap. Some of the names in the makeup category: Estee Lauder, Lancome, Hugo Boss, Jade, Revlon, Ahava, L'Oreal, and Dove. In the hair section: Wella, Pantene, Nivea, Shuki Zikri, and Gillette.
The big practical attraction was the 50% discount on almost everything on display. This is a big deal for women who like good products but don't like to pay the high prices. The more expensive products from Estee Lauder, Shisheido, Lancome, and Jeanne Piaubert were discounted a little less, but still 20% to 30% was offered.
Beautiful in design, the Revlon booth.
The fair also offered a fashion show every hour or two. Cloths from Gucci, Jean Paul Gaultier, Christian Lacroix, and Dolce & Gabbana were on display worn by about 25 young models. Beuty City 2008 showed also how Israel has grown up in the fashion and beauty area. There are still many international brands who consider this market small and in transition. This is simply the phase Israeli women are going through, both economically and culturally. But the women here definitely want to look and be seen as beautiful. So when the late comers look back at 2008 they may regret not making Israeli women beautiful today. But that again is just a speculation on the future. Read More...

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Summer on the beach - sun, fun, refreshing

Summer is here! Get down to the beach. Get some sun, have some fun, and be refreshed. When the temperature hit the 90's (35 Celsius here) do as most Tel Avivians do, head to the beach. This is specially true on Saturdays, when tanning or playing "matkot" (Israeli specialty wooden racket game) is a long practiced tradition. The beaches are right here, just at the edge of the city. The most difficult part in the ordeal is probably finding a parking spot. But if you have a few spare shekels or don't mind a walk of a few blocks, you must partake in this ritual. The beaches stretch from the old part of Yaffo in the south all the way to the big hotels on Ben Guryon street. On good days choice spaces by the water go quickly and the beach is carpeted with oily bodies and umbrellas 40 to 50 meters deep. On the hot summer months, June to August, you will find vacationing high schoolers all week long. Fridays and Saturdays are the family days, you will see from singles with their friends all the way to 4 generations all clumped up around the cooler and the umbrella. Some bring almost nothing, literally, a T-shirt, flip-flops, and a towel to lie on. Some just about bring everything they can carry from their kitchen pots to their children's toys.

Bikinis in all shapes and colors, a refreshing dip is great on a hot June day.
If you are not the picnicking / outdoor type, no worries, the beach is dotted with cafes and restaurants which offer drinks and food. On a hot day I would recommend a large cold slice of watermelon with salty cheese cubes. Drink plenty of water or other refreshing fluids, it is easy to forget how quickly we loose fluids in the sun. Besides the sunning, ball playing, and bikini watching, there are kayaks and small sail boats to rent in the boat club at the end of Ben Guryon street. Bring games and sand toys for the kids, and a newspaper or a good book for yourself. And above all, ENJOY the summer! Tel Aviv beaches are a blast ;8~)''' Read More...

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Nanny Interview - 5 Steps to Success

Editor: another great article in the nanny diaries by nanny Frankie ;-)

First impressions are one of the strongest ingridients for a successful ending between you, parents, and child. Does it sound like a recipe? It is a chemistry that explodes into success or explodes into "seeya letah". It is not an easy task to enter the home of a stranger and leave the home a needed and wanted employee. You must be prepared to look and sound confident and intelligent. They do not expect a rocket scientist. They expect a happy, loving, and enthusiastic individual to look after their child as if that child was your very own. There are 5 steps to climb to achieve this goal.
1) Appearance:
Present yourself on time and looking your best. No heavy make up. No dirty hair or messy cloths. No bad smells or food between your teeth! BE CLEAN, sweet, happy, and act glad to be there.
2) Meeting the child:
Do not "grab" for the baby. (if your mom is still pregnand simply ask how she is feeling and how wonderful she looks). Most interviews take place when the baby is very new. Show great interest, smile a lot, but do not push yourself too strong. If mommy wants you to hold their baby - do not refuse, please wash your hands first. Support the child's head and be confident about how you hold a new born. The impression of good hygene goes a long way.

Nanny interview... a great way to start!

3) Experience and Life Saving Skills:
Be prepared to answer questions about your experience. Be enthusiastic about your love of children. Have some knowledge about child development. Education can come from a paperback book or the net or from your own life experience. Just a little information can again make a successful impression. A course in C.P.R. is a MUST. A nanny must be able to do everything possible to save a child's life. The courses are available and not at all difficult. Everyone on the planet should have these skills!
4) Trust and Expectations:
Parents need to trust you not only with their child but with their home as well. Show them you are trustworthy, honest, and will keep "things" clean and in order. Do they expect more than childcare? Be sure to discuss what is expected of you. Some families are very organized and neat and some are, well? NOT! Be nice, but discuss the rules before the game starts. (Cooking, Laundry? Ironing? Dishes? Light housework, or just children.)
5) Salary Last - LAST - L A S T ! ! !
You are "on a roll". You look great, sound amazing and chemistry is on fire. They seem to like you and you feel good about them. The child is so sweet and already under your skin. The trust between you seems solid and now comes the $64,000 question. How much do you charge? Tip for the day! What is the average salary in this area? One only has to visit the area gardens BEFORE you interview and simply ask the nannies before hand. You will get a pretty good idea.
DO NOT SELL YOURSELF SHORT and don't be unreachable. Your recommendations and reputation can really help you achieve the salary you deserve. Again, educate yourself before you enter an agreement or contract. Don't forget hours, insurance, pensions, vacation time. The more you know all laws covering your work the better. The AACI can help answer any of these questions. Any lawyer and government agency will also have answers.
Good luck! Wishing you all the best! Any questions? -- e-Mail Frankie the nanny.

P.S. Did NOT like this family? Say thank your - Bye Bye - Be Nice -- TRY AGAIN!! Read More...

Monday, March 10, 2008

Terrorism, Worries, and MONEY ?

I don't like to write about politics and terrorism. Mostly because there are lots of good political writers and endless Israeli-Palestinian blogs. Also, I tend to think that speaking about the situation here in Israel is not productive. Only by doing something can we really change the situation. I don't think that writing in a blog and telling people how "wrong" falls into the "doing something" category. But the terrorist attack on a Jerusalem Yeshiva last Thursday has really hit a nerve. Not just in my body but in the collective Israeli nervous system. It seemed to have hit the Tel Aviv stock exchange as well. The Tel Aviv 25 index took a drop at the morning opening on the next session (Sunday 9-Mar-08).

is the TA25 index a sign of the Israeli collective nervous system?
The same goes to a few other worried minds like the tourism operators, specially these catering to Jewish religious groups, mostly non-orthodox. The ones sending their children to instill Zionist values but not too much of it. Just like the past two intifadas, tourists abandon Israel completely when the terrorist activities escalate. Some of you are probably nodding your heads, rolling your eyes, and saying quietly:

'who is this heartless-capitalist-nut anyway?'

Well, good thinking, after all, are we trading a few tourist or investor dollars for the life of 8 religious-pious Torah students? Especially at one of THE most renowned educational institution in Jerusalem (a veritable Harvard of the orthodox world)? Well, yes and NO! Yes, I write about the non-political issues and stories in Tel Aviv and Israel. NO - I am certainly not blind to the pain and anger of the Israeli spirit. This attack is by far the most disturbing in a long time, maybe since the big wars of 1967 (six day war) and 1973 (Yom Kippur war). For the first time, terrorists have gone into what would be considered a sacred location. Well, now the Israeli army has the 'excuse' to go and attack Gaza and who knows what else... you see. It's easy to get distracted into the political commentary mode.
      So here I go back to the non-political, slightly capitalistic, mostly economical and daily life writing. Let's focus for just a minute on the economic, social, and daily work life in Tel Aviv. Economics do matter, specially in a country with such a fragile economy, it's own currency, no trade with adjoining countries, and high or even VITAL dependence on foreign economies. While the pain and anger of a terrorist attack spikes our adrenaline, the economic impact lasts a long time. Actually, what terrorist activities have done to Israel economically and socially could be considered a greater damage. It affects all the population with exception of a very small part at the top and the very bottom of the socio-economic scale. Socially, terrorist attacks demoralize people and spread a feeling of uncertainty. The wars and intifadas were used to blame the sharp economic cycles, ultra-inflation, a continuous brain drain, difficulty in attracting foreign investors, and a slew of other problems which plagued the Israeli economy. The problems in the past were all attributed to the 'security issue' with the Palestinians. The same was also said to be the driving force in the social split between the ultra-right Zionist and the central Israeli camps. Essentially giving the ultra-right side fuel and incentive to justify settlements and attract new members. Which makes for a social-political split and further angers the Palestinians and creates an endless cycle of blame and violence.
        Back to Tel Aviv today, the feeling on the street is simply of sadness. In Tel Aviv the last few days you sense that people simply don't have life. The vitality in the talk of cafe and restaurant patrons was sucked away. The quiet is simply a sign that people don't even know what to say to each other. That small-talk and excitement about daily activity turned into serious hushed conversation. What difference does it make that you are taking a vacation next week. Or that you have a new job? That new car you bought is just what you were dreaming of, and it was cheap because the Euro is so low? You see, even "heartless-capitalist-nuts" have feelings and care. We also live with the reality of daily life, economics, and the struggle for happiness. Not the idealistic-politicized happiness, the simple daily feeling that most people deserve. One of them is the comfort of a rational and predictable economy. One that does not depend on the whims of a terrorist attack or a protest settlement somewhere in a deserted Judea hills. Maybe the practical, economic view of the world is an idealistic opposite to the political one, but I don't think this way. I tend to think more in terms of what people really need. When it comes to the economy, surprisingly it is just what the political side wants: security, predictability, and peace of mind. So you see, thinking about the economy and people's daily life is not such a: heartless-capitalistic-nutty idea! Read More...

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Does Wall Street care about Abu Mazen?

or Does The Marker Care About Terrorism?

I have been reading The Marker, Ha'Aretz's business paper for a month now. It comes to my door, and it is starting to drum into me the business vs. political schizophrenia in Israel. This is something that in the US and Europe is taken for granted. There is a strict separation of economic to political worlds. But in Israel, until a few years ago, this was not the case. Every time anything happened it was blamed on the "security situation" ~ a key term meaning: "the terrorist attack last night is scaring off investors... tourists... foreign companies..." Well, it seems that this is not the case any more. Maybe it's the fact that foreigners have been coming here for a long time and have shown Israeli business that some things are beyond their control so they need to do something else. At one time Israeli businesses compared terrorism in Israel to the drug trafficking in the US and South America. But they noticed that large US corporations never really talked about how drugs affect them. It may cause a robbery at some 7-11 stores or lower the Real Estate value in some neighbourhoods. But that is no reason to mix business and politics. It may be that Israelis have noticed that if you don't talk about "security issues" you start thinking more about what you can really do with what you have.
The Marker, Israel's #1 business paper, no mention of "security"
In some respects this shows the maturity of Israel business. But in other respect this is also a shift of Israeli business to more global standards. It seems to me that up to the early 1990's most of the influence in Israeli business came from the US. This was before the Russian immigration which brought a million people to Israel and the smaller and steady immigration of Jews from UK, Australia, Canada and France the last decade. These changes in the population and the acceptance of Israel in Europe has changed the business in Israel dramatically. Today, the influence from US companies and government is still strong, but business here is much more independent and connected to Europe and Asia. There are probably more Russian speaking professionals in position of power and influence than native English speakers ten years ago. Slowly this shift is starting to show up in the media. It is also showing up in the way Israeli companies think about doing business outside of the country. One excellent example is the building and architecture sector. For a long time, most of the building and design by Israeli firms was done exclusively in Israel and Africa. But the last few years, Israeli builders and architects are looking more to eastern Europe and central Asia. This is mostly because of the available architects and builders with culture and language skills relevant to these markets. There are even a few large companies owned or run by Russian immigrants who started out at the bottom and made it to upper management. For the most part this is good news for Israelis, dependence on a single country like the US has it's risks and this is something that Israel has gone through before. For the US it means less influence on Israeli business and indirectly on politics. This is a change, and it seems like Israelis and others are going along without too much difficulty. It is also good news to US companies with strong international influence. In Tel Aviv today you can find more culturally Russian workers than anywhere except Moscow. Which means, that American business can come to Tel Aviv and run or support business operations in Eastern Europe. Which is probably as good as running an operation in Prague, Warsaw, Bucharest, or Budapest. At least that is the opinion of most Israelis. Anyway, there are lots of interesting observations in how Israel is changing it's business stance. So keep your eyes open at companies which are building their markets in other places, specially to the north and the east of here. Read More...

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Sex in the city - advice from a Tel Aviv perspective (skip if you are a little prudish)

Editor's note: sam-d goes out and sees foolish behaviour in the sex dance of Tel Aviv. Bars with pick-up attitude are plenty, but men to behave the right way are a few... happy reading... Escort service web site, in Hebrew

      You have met a girl and you feel a little heat between the two of you. You are hopping she feels the same heat. Hint number one, don't make some crude remark. This will for sure way to pour ice water on any possible connection. You must be a gentleman and still find out the lay of the land. Now that you have made the decision to take this budding relationship to step 2, what do you do? The next step is the touching and kissing stage. But what do I do? where do I touch? This is the first test on how the two of you will handle your fledgling way.

Seximo site from the popular circular you find on the steet

A quiet bar, few snacks and some straight talk. We all like to be touched but where is the question. Your girl has favorite places. Just ask her. How do you like your breasts touched? Do you want your vagina massages? Ask her where her favorite place to be touched. You may really be surprised. If she likes her breasts touched, ask her how soft - hard, etc. Don't be shy, she'll appreciate it.
Since kissing is part of step 2, it's best to find out how she likes to kiss. Hard - soft... it's best to know if a little biting is in order. Do you like it so far? try it. If not, end it now, it won't get any better. As for you girls if aren't satisfied with this talk, end it NOW ... more to come from sam-d-man


Thursday, November 8, 2007

Life in suburbia - Modiin and beyond...

Editor's note: We focused on Tel Aviv for the most part. We are starting to get requests to write about things outside the city limits. So here we go with Modiin and Ramat Gan. Two very different cities, both somewhat of suburbs of Tel Aviv.

My daughter, her husband and three children live in Modiin. Modiin is a growing suburban city about mid way between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Today there is a good bus and train service between Tel Aviv and Modiin. Since the city is new and a little out of the way from the central region of Tel Aviv, housing is much more affordable than anywhere near Tel Aviv. My wife and I go to this fair city whenever we can, usually about once a week.

Modiin from the air, courtesy Modiin city
On one sunny Friday morning we hopped the train in Tel Aviv and twenty five minutes later we were in Modiin. We were picked up by my daughter. Grandma, grandpa, mom, dad and three kids headed over for breakfast at Angelo's, one of the city's cafes. This is a pleasant cafe in a small mall. You have a choice of indoor and outdoor seating. The Italian style menu offers a variety of egg dishes and pasta. Friday mornings in Israel are much like Saturday's in the US, so breakfast could also mean lunch or brunch. There was appropriate child and baby seats which makes a big difference in this bedroom community of Modiin. The children had egg dishes and the adults pasta and Italian dishes.
Food is average for a neighborhood restaurant. This is not your fine Tel Aviv food but it is a good place for children and a simple meal. The small strip mall has Sushi, Ice Cream and Aroma Cafe. There is also Pizza delivery restaurant in Modiin. With all these choices, you should not go hungry when you don't want to cook.
We spent the rest of the day in Modiin and than caught the last train before Shabbat started.
            sam-d-man from Tel Aviv

Monday, November 5, 2007

Humus in the city - Ashkara & a great humus blog

Hummus is simple and complex. A dish that can be prepared with as little as 3 ingredients, made for as little as pennies (or agorot here in Tel Aviv) yet be as delicious as anything you can imagine. Traditionally it is mostly made of chickpeas and thina (sesame seed sauce). Usually the chickpeas are ground to a fine paste, sometimes with a few small chunks. Then blended with thina, olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, garlic and parsley. The secret to a specific taste is the 'other' spices like cumin, peppers (white or black), salt and sometimes other middle eastern spices. Hummus is found in most of the Arab countries and some European countries (Turkey and Greece). The specific recipes from different countries was carried with the Jewish immigration to Israel. Today you will find hummus restaurants from the humble to the chic. There are lots of resources to find humus information on the web, but a local favorite in Tel Aviv is The Hummus Blog. Apparently, 'abbu shooki' the blog writer is somewhat of a hummus fanatic. Tales of his 20 thina comparison study have been told until the wee hours of the morning among hummus lovers and blogger alike. ENJOY!       Amiv

Hummus with all the trimmings, from article
      At number 45 Yermiyahu street in Tel Aviv you will find one of the best fast food 'in the city', Ashkara Hummus. Ruthie has run this hummus joint for over twenty years. This is a must place to sample according to sam-d-man. So this his tale is of the place, and here is how it goes.... :

        First you will find outside seating. Walk through to the exposed kitchen. All the food is homemade and first rate. The menu is very limited. It's hummus anyway you want it.
        The hummus will be prepared to your instructions. In a pita or in a bowl with onions, Israeli salad, chikpeas, spicy hot souce, thina sauce or a hard boiled egg. Bowl servings come with delicious soft pita on the side to scoop up the hummus. You can also ask for olives, pickles and pickled cabbage salad. The In the winter Ruthie serves soup de-jour. Ashkara is a clean and kosher restaurant and the servings are huge in comparison to any place in Tel Aviv. It is also open 24 hours a day 5 1/2 days a week (closed Friday afternoons and Satrudays until end of shabbat. It is also considered a 'nice' place to eat hummus, not that the other places are 'not 'nice' ~ but hey, this is the 'nice' part of town and hummus is the people's food after all.

        After you give the cook your order you may either enter the small dining room or find a seat outside. You will be served your food with a soft drink or a beer. They also offer all you can drink tea with na'ana, this is also a traditional drink which goes great with a hot plate of hummus in the winter. Cold tea with na'ana is also great on a hot summer day. It's usually drank with lots of sugar. This is a perfect place to come for a quick bite in the middle of the day. The location is also great on a fall day, sit and watch the parade of people floating by. Yermiyahu street has turned into one of the "must be seen" fashion spots. If you are a visitor, ask a local to take you and show you the fine art of scooping hummus, it's truly a middle-eastern tradition not to be missed. -- So, if you want to enjoy hummus at one of the best places in north Tel Aviv, got to Ruthie's on 45 Yermiyahu Street. You wont be disappointed.

              Enjoy, sam-d-man

Thursday, November 1, 2007

The wheels on the bus go 'round and 'round ~ or do they?

The bus takes me to my job every morning as I engage in my nanny duties, with great pleasure and dedication. It is necessary for me to travel an hour or even longer each day (each way!) This makes for a very early rise and along and late ride home. There are no complaints here. I love being a nanny but the getting there and back is a story worth telling. I have prayed for Mary Poppins' Umbrella on more than one occasion!
A new company with brand new shiny vehicles have brought "better" service to the area of Givat Shmuel since August of 2007. The fairy tale ends the first day as the bus arrives at 7:00 AM and speeds down Jabotinsky as usual. The bus does not make its usual turn into B'nei B'rak (remember that story? and the first one?) but continues straight as 6 or 7 of us jump up and ask for an explanation. We get the story of a new bus route as of today and the 69 bus will no longer go through B'nai B'rak!! What about Givat Shmuel? "Its OK - Its OK, says the bus driver - everyone will be fine". It seems the Hebrew explanation is not good enough for Hebrew speakers and we all exit the but. The explanation was so simple, but the driver "from hell" just kept his secret. The bus uses the highway behind B'nai B'rak and exits off by Givat Shmuel and everything is OK. We poor uninformed passengers waited for another 69 bus which of course never showed up or would never show up again in B'nai B'rak. A small notice of the change would have been so nice. Hello new company!

New buses for Frankie
The wheels on the bus continue to go 'round and 'round and the next day we all found our way to our jobs on time. The secret was out. The company has a completely new route but the passengers find out by accident and stress! The wheels turn every 1/2 hour. This is acceptable but of course not dependable. The drivers "from hell" have a very difficult way of telling time and being late by 45 minutes is not unusual.
The driver I meet with every day suffers from road rage! How is that possible you ask? A bus driver is calm, patient, a trained excellent professional. WRONG!!
This man is on a mission of upside-down wheels. He cuts in and out of traffic, pays little attention to the comforts of his passengers and lays on the horn way too much. He resents having to stop to pick up people and many times just does not do that. No way you say!? I have been left waiting at a stop numerous times. I have seen people running to the bus and just ignored. YES WAY!
The "driver from hell" also enjoys a chat with a friendly passenger quite often. The manor women stand by his side as they solve "the world's problems" as the rest of us sit white knuckled waiting for the driver to peek at the road. I swear this is the case.
The wheels on the bus go 'round and 'round in this manner any way, while all the complaints seem to change nothing!! This morning "the driver from hell" pulled his most amazing childish feat to date. One woman entered the bus and apparently had no money for payment. She was a young woman and was trying to explain a late payment but I was not certain. The next thing we know the driver and this woman were yelling at each other. The driver insisted she leave the bus and she would not! He stopped the bus and screamed at her to exit. She refused and the rest of us were in a state of shock. The woman screamed back and the wheels on the bus did NOT GO 'round and 'round! Was he going to leave this bus? Scary as another passenger gave the young woman her punch pass to use, but "the driver from hell" refused to allow her to use it. The screaming continued and the bus stayed by the curb for five minutes until he finally gave in and punched the hole in the pass. The young woman sat down, the driver turned the bus on, and away we went. This was just another ride to work for me. My main concern was the temper of "Mr. driver from hell" would he pick up anyone else? Would he actually stop at my stop? Was he wrong?!
Two stops later the pennyless woman came up to the punch card donor and GAVE HER money for the ride! WHAT WAS THAT?!?!
I have two more months to deal with "the driver from hell". My new job is much closer to my home and I have alternative bus routes to get me there. I hope we all live that long and the wheels keep on turning. Mary Poppins may I PLEASE borrow your umbrella for two months???
//from our roving reporter, once again -- thanks Frankie //the Editor Read More...

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Cooly children's store - Basel square: charming and affordable

The area surrounding Basel Street boasts some wonderful shops and restaurant-cafes. Most are small neighborhood stores specializing in something just a little bit different.
Irit Ashkenazi is the owner and designer of one of the finest of these unique shops. The store is charming from its inviting window display and remains "adorable" throughout its tiny space. Cooly is very cool !!

Cooly display window, charming

Cooly is a gift paradise for newborns to about 6 year old children. Irit designs a variety of baby blankets, lamps, crib needs, stuffed animals and huge selection of toys and decorations for young babies and children. She has a design shop just behind the store.
One of the fun advantages of the amazing stock is the selection in many price ranges. If you want a "little" gift or a more pricey or impressive one, it is here. The staff is very helpful and eager to put a combination of item together for the perfect gift.

Irit reading Israeltomorrow blog story, how exciting

You can find something for 12 shekels or 200 shekels. The choices are never ending and the best part is yet to come! The gifts are wrapped beautifully and stuffed into a darling Cooly bag. A Cooly bag is complete with a Teddy bear and even a colorful ribbon around his neck. Very sweet!
When in Tel Aviv, be sure to visit this 10 year old wonderful children shop, Cooly is cool! //Frankie (Thanks Frankie, our "roving reporter")


Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Wordcamp Israel - Wordpress User's Conference

I went to the Wordcamp Israel 2007 conference last Thursday. It was an typical technical meeting that could have been anywhere in the world. The most unique characteristic here was English screen presentations and programs (PowerPoint & web examples) with Hebrew lectures. This is a typical 'leading edge' conference, the invitation was listed on some writing and professional listings like Techshoret, IsraelPCdoctor, and Tanglo (all on Yahoo! groups). Actually, Israel tech scene is very much a word-of-mouth type of organism. It probably goes back to the way the country was developed, where the 'protekzya' (essentially nepotism) and 'histadrut' (the all encomassing Israle labor union) counted more than titles and academic accomplishment. But anyway, the scene was full of bloggers and want-to-be bloggers in Hebrew. The idea was to show how easy blogging can be and the fact that WordPress is fully Hebrew compatible. But that is not enough of a reason to gather 100-some people and feed them cold burekas and instant coffee for 8 hours. The real reason is that people who have been moving the WordPress Hebrew version, have used mostly through e-Mail and blogging to communicate, can get together and put a face to the words and the once in a while / late night phone call.

Wordcamp Israel English site, follow that to the Hebrew site...
In addition to that, small 'underground' conferences tend to get people connected and talking, and in Israel this is one of the most common activity anyway. The interesting fact is that this happened here. Israel is the first country after the US that had such a 'formal' meeting. WordPress sent Laurelle VanFossen as a representative. She is somewhere between an evangelist and a public relation 'geek'. I use the 'geek' term in a sense that she is a non-techy pushing a totally technical product. So to people who mostly write, market, communicate, document... essentially deal with words and ideas, she is the 'techy' connection. Laurelle has a new book about blogging and she apparently lived in Israel in a 'previous life'. So she liked the people and the food. That's good enough for most Israeli bloggers.
The blogging book by Laurelle
Like in the US, there are a few blogging services (in Hebrew) associated with portals and mainstream publications (nana Isra-blog, Tapuz blog, bloggerim) - but this is not what "hard core blogging" is all about. WordPress is trying to get people to run and manage their own blog software. That means design, posting, advertising - essentially make each blogger a small business. What a concept? Well, this is really the first time a company or a community has told people: go forth and run your own site ~ it's not that hard. JUST DO IT! Well, is it working you ask? I am not sure, like me, blogger (from google) is good enough for most bloggers. But than again, every writer, business person, marketing freelancer, cartoon doodler and political pontificator has the urge to "control everything". Even if it's just the way a blog page looks and the width of the columns. After all, blogging is about running your own tiny newspaper, advice column and ongoing advertising newsletter.
The speakers mostly covered technical topics, how to design your own style, how to run an audio blog, how to advertise and publicize. At this point not much about the writing, motivation, marketing or other topics related to content. There were two 'business' bloggers who spoke about using a blog to essentially promote their work and get people "prepared" for business. There were a few artsy bloggers who plan to eventually run a blog for a living. But at this point, this is not happening yet in Israel. There are also writers who want to use the blog simply to get a word out, some are political and some cultural (a movie reviewer). Overall, a nice distraction from the keyboard and the daily toil of posting. A techy (not just a 'geek') from the city - Tel Aviv - //AmiV Read More...

Monday, October 29, 2007

Reflection of an Oleh (new immigrant from Canada)

Editor's note: I see stories from people who just came or have been in Israel a few years all the time. Like the visitor who came here for a business trip, it seems like new visitors see things in a different light. This is a story from Ross, about what it feels to be here after a few years. Enjoy!

Olim off the plane (courtesy of Jacob Richman ~
The reason is that I have been told that I am more Israeli than Israeli is because I don't take crap here. If you'll be in big trouble!!! I will yell back at people, bang on the hood of a car that is about to hit me, and push my way in like everyone else does. Israelis have absolutely No qualms about asking (more like demanding) for discounts in stores and bitching that something is to expensive. Most of the time..they'll get it. I still love watching people yelling and threatening a police officer giving them a ticket because they did something illegal :) Only in Israel!!!! In this country..American manners get you absolutely no where outside of the places that cater and kiss the asses of tourists. The only ones who can adapt to the messed up system here quickly are the Russians. Since there are over one million here..they really maneuvered thru the system.
Getting married, a good reason to come to Israel (nefesh-b-nefesh -
On the flip side..if there is a car accident or, even worse, a suicide bomber..then everyone stops everything and tries to help out. Employees leave their shops and businesses to go and help. People will stand around the radio and listen to the news if anything happens. Every hour on the hour..people turn the news up on their radios to hear what is happening.
Not one Israeli (including me) has been untouched by what is happening around us and most know someone who has been killed or hurt in one of the wars or in a suicide bombing.
New roads + fast cars + hurried drivers = accidents
This is a country where salaries are low compared to the US and western Europe. However, everyone here acts like they have tons of money AKA credit. I'll explain it to you this way...88% of Israelis have passports and have been abroad. 75% have been abroad three or more times. That is opposed to only 8% of Americans having passports and having gone somewhere other than Canada or Mexico...places that you can drive to. Even though the number of Americans is greater than the number of Israelis, per capita, Israelis travel more than any other nationality in the world. The biggest problem here is that our salaries are much lower than in America, but the prices are pretty much the same as in America.
No matter what..Israelis dress extremely well (everything can be bought here and they buy it), have the latest gadgets, one or more cell phones, and every restaurant is packed. Every time you talk to someone..they're going somewhere. With the weather being nice pretty much ten months a year..people (at least in Tel Aviv) are always out and about.
One thing that I do miss is the bottomless cup of coffee. BUT hell will freeze over if I am going to sit in the lobby of the Hilton and get it there :)

You all wanna know somethin? I aint leavin this place!!!
Home is where the heart is and my heart has always been here!!!
For those of you who have been to already know this. For those of you who have not visited yet..remember these words.
You may leave Israel, but Israel will never leave you!!! Read More...

Friday, October 5, 2007

A First Time Visitor's Impressions of Tel Aviv

Wallamberg Street tech area in north Tel Aviv
Editor's note: I am always amazed and excited about what some people say the first time in Tel Aviv. Specially with people who seem to be well travelled and informed. It goes back to my first observation about the huge amount of negative press about Israel, mostly related to nationalism, security and terrorism. So enough of that and let's get to the impression from Hank... (thanks!)


Shalom from Hudson, Massachusetts.

I've been enjoying your Tel Aviv blog since finding your comment on my blog. I wrote about an upcoming trip to Tel Aviv.

Well, except for the 12 hour plan ride from Newark, NJ, the trip was great. We stayed at the Crowne Plaza Hotel on the beach. Its a very scenic beach surrounded by activity - volley ball, coffee shops, pubs, etc. Unfortunately I was on a business trip and we didn't a lot of spare time. I was able to take a swim and the water was perfect. There was only had one day for sight seeing which was spent in Jerusalem.

Azrielli Towers, triangle on the left

Our work week began on Sunday morning, which was a small adjustment. The company I work for has its offices on three of the floors of one of the Azrieli Towers- the triangular one. Great views! We could see all of Tel Aviv, the sea, and the military complex below it. We spend a couple of our lunches in the mall below it. On two of the days we traveled to Migdal Haemek to visit a contract manufacturer. This gave us a chance to see some of the area North of Tel Aviv.

We spent the nights walking along the Ocean Walk finding a restaurant for dinner, then walking back. (The best were the Boya and the Mantaray.)

Observations and surprises:

--> The similarities in the engineering staff in Tel Aviv to that in the US office. Same dress code, same mannerisms, same gripes, etc.
--> The number of US companies that have operations in Israel.
--> How well all of the people we came in contact with spoke English (all except the cab drivers.)
--> The modern architecture in the commercial buildings in Tel Aviv.
-->The soldiers walking around the mall carrying weapons.
--> There's some pretty good Israeli music.
--> The high income and automobile tax rate.
--> The smallness of Israel.
--> The large relative size of the West Bank
--> The number of Muslim Arabs in Israel - about 18% of the population.
--> Excellent food.
--> All of our Israeli coworkers were good natured and love to good debate. (The meetings were very spirited.)
--> Some of the traffic would give Route 128 in the Boston area a run for the money.
--> Political discussions: none.

Because we made the trip, we are now in daily contact with the people in the Tel Aviv office. We also feel like we know a little bit about about Tel Aviv. We may have to make another trip or two to learn more.

That's my experience. The posts about the Tel Aviv / Israel trip can be found at

Hank

Event: Tel Aviv Stock Exchange "Globe" Exhibit

Honey bee globe

Tel Aviv has a wonderfully active art scene. I passed by the port to see a painting exhibit of Yaffo and south Tel Aviv. This was just a prelude to the main outside exhibit now at the Rothchild Boulevard park. Continuing a tradition of companies sponsering art, the stock exchange sponsored a Globe Exhibit. Companies sponsor an artist which depicts the company's business in some way. There are over 30 [?check #?] different exhibits. Some are funny and creative, on a nice day, the buoulevard is buzzing with kids and strollers and flashes from cameras go off like a Hollywood photo-op.

Brass people crossing through the globe

This exhibit is a follow up of two previous shows, one based on bulls, obviously symbolic of the bull charging as a symbol of a good stock market run. Before that, penguins were used as a base for another exhibit. The Tel Aviv stock exchange is a hidden secret of the Israel economy. For a long time, almost a closed club of a few prominent Israeli families who found the big industrial and commercial conglomorates, now a much more a reflection of the international and populist nature of Israeli economy. But sadly, the exchange has not enjoyed the wide support of individual investors in other western countries. So in an effort to advertise the explain the stock trading and investing business the exchange sponsors these outside art shows.

Tel Aviv Stock Exchange with "company" satellites

The show itself runs along all of Rothchild Boulevard. It's a nice location on a late summer afternoon. The trees shade most of the central park area, where the exhibit is installed on the edge of a walking path. The kilometer long boulevard is a good walk, although kids seem to get board at about the half way point. On a Saturday morning, the center exhibit area was clogged with strollers and kids pulling on every kind of ball, rod and string sticking off the statues. Some were cute and some a little annoying. But overall, when the place is full of people, it's a nice way to spend a lazy afternoon or a Friday / Saturday day off.\
So come see the globes, on Rothchild Boulevard, 'in the city' -- /AmiV

Bamba baby globe