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Steaming on a Summer’s Day

Illustration by Denis Shifrin

Hot! Humid! And it's not even August – it's already nearly the middle of September! Can I bear more of this summer? Ridiculous question – I must. Eyn brira (no choice) as they say.

Thank G-d for air conditioning. But that doesn't help when you're in the middle of Tel Aviv schlepping damp laundry out of your daughter's apartment so it won't go moldy while she's away for the next month.

Driving there, Waze warned me several times: 'hazard reported ahead'. What do you mean 'hazard reported ahead'? The whole of Tel Aviv is one enormous hazard.

It may be hip and happening and a top party and gay destination – but it's noisy and crowded and full of cars, most of which are driven by Israeli drivers. Speeding, changing lanes without signaling and hooting are standard on our roads.

I remember with longing the two weeks I spent at the beginning of August driving round cool, calm England.

The newspapers there talk about road rage but compared to what we experience in Israel it's a much more polite phenomenon, which perhaps would be more appropriately called 'driver distress'. Driving in England – even London - is so much more pleasant than driving in Tel Aviv.

As an immigrant from the UK, you realize that your absorption to this country is complete when someone hoots at you and instead of jumping out of your skin you either hoot back or swear at them – often both.

Then again, on occasion, Israeli drivers can surprise and delight you. Some years ago during the Pesach week, I drove to Jerusalem. On the road approaching the capital, I realized I was in the wrong lane and was forced to cut in front of the driver in the next lane.

At the next traffic light he pulled up beside me and started telling me off – shouting, waving his arms, saying (correctly) that what I had done was wrong and dangerous. I responded (in my English-accented Hebrew) "I'm sorry, you're right but I don't know the road."

Whether it was the apology or the English accent I'll never know but this angry driver instantly transformed into an affectionate, even loving motek (sweetie).

"It's OK my dear lady" he said in Hebrew, beaming at me, "don't worry, it's fine nothing happened. Happy holiday and be well." He all but got out of the car and kissed me.

Oh well, all part of the fun of living in Israel. Excuse me now while I have a cold shower and spend the rest of the evening sitting under the air conditioning outlet.

Tomorrow I'll brave the roads again to drive to my writing group. Lucky it's not in Tel Aviv! 



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Thursday, 01 June 2023

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