Sunday, October 31, 2004

Media review

Movie: Just finished watching Fahrenheit 9/11. OK, it was a WMV version of the movie and I watched it on my computer, but I think the message was clear, especially in the first half hour or so. I don't think I'd be voting for George W...

Music: Last week I randomly selected the Pretenders 'The Singles'. What a cracking disk! It's been on the 'turntable' ever since. Even got mrs. anglosaxy humming away.

Book: 'Want to play' by PJ Tracy. Not bad for a thriller, will keep you interested, especially when on long overnight train rides through the wilds of China. I was very annoyed when landing at Hong Kong because they lost my bag for a few hours. One of the thoughts running through my head while I sat bagless on the bus to Kowloon was that this book was in the bag and I hadn't completed the last chapter!

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Halav tziporim

Today was largely spent in the company of mrs. anglosaxy's tribe in a trip up north. They hired a coach and a driver and headed for Zichron Yaacov. They've done a few of these trips before, but I'd always managed to wangle my way out...this time I'd already promised a few days ago while under the influence of a few beers, so I thought I'd better go. As you probably know by now, my in-laws are usually great, it's just when they get the whole tribe together it gets a bit daunting...

Wasn't so bad, but that might be down to the free-flowing ouzo and beer; poppa anglosaxy sure knows how to host a coach trip. I managed to get a seat at the back of the bus with the rest of the 'bad boys', and what with my family connections, was soon being plied with 'halav tziporim' (birds milk, or in other words, ouzo). Despite the number of shots I downed, I refute any claim that I might have accidentally tapped my fingers to an Eyal Golan song. The weather was great all day, despite the reported threats of torrential downpours and we managed to see quite a few different sites, in and around Zichron (which I'm sure is a much nicer place to visit midweek, rather than on a Saturday).

Not too sure I'll be running to put my name down for the next bus trip, but at least I know what to expect...

Friday, October 29, 2004

Winter's here?

Looks like it's official, the rains are coming...

Wrong circles

Maybe I move in the wrong circles (OK, there's no maybe about it), but in my world, my circle of friends/family/corridor colleagues, there's been no mention of the events of this week in this neck of the woods (votes to get out of Gaza, the 9th anniversary of Rabin's death and Noddy's flight to Paris). These events are big, but I wonder how much they really hit the average person on the street.

Just last night I was eating sushi in Kai, my favourite sushi place, with another 7 friends. Not once did anybody raise the subject, or get anywhere near it. I did three full days in the corridor this week. Not a word. And does mrs. anglosaxy ever bend my ear? No chance. I don't think it's down to me that these subjects aren't raised, because I like to think I'm well up on current affairs and world issues (in particular, Arsenal's world domination), but does the average person (I'm excluding Gaza settlers here, awfully sorry) really talk about these events? Do they huddle over beers/coffee and discuss the pros and cons of Noddy's impending departure? I don't think so...

All this reinforces my opinion that this blog will just keep on about life and stuff in Israel, no politics for you lot...

Thursday, October 28, 2004

What the hell are those drops of water?

WTF...can't be...I think it rained this afternoon, I've got a load of muddy raindrops (rain? I think the last time it rained here was something like April) all over the car. That's it then, time to bring out me parka and scarf. Well, if I was totally Israeli, I'd already be decked in my finest, thickest leather coat...

Off for some sushi.

To love - a definition of sorts

While Shai does a great job of showing the more political ads that catch our eyes on the way to work, I prefer to show the more mundane, or rather, the more annoying (the ones you'll never see on a British street).

The ad below is plastered everywhere these days, and it annoys the hell out of me. What does it say? "TO LOVE is to call him to check if he slept well." Are you kidding me?? The two people in the ad are quite obviously meant to be mother and son. Now, the Jewish mother is quite a legendary character, and believe me, I've come across one or two characters in my time, but if my mother called me to check if I'd slept well, I think I'd go ex-directory (you know what I mean mum, I'm way too manly and mature for you to be calling me up to check if I slept well)...

Does this namby pamby nonsense actually sell any telephones? Or make every Jewish mum pick up the phone and call her son? Mmmm...

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

John Peel, RIP

The legendary DJ John Peel, the guy who introduced me to a whole new world of music...RIP. One of those DJs that you felt was in the room with you, late on a cold, wet night, showing off his new collection of unknown bands. You had no street cred if you hadn't done a 'Peel Session'.

Joyful working environment

OK, so how long have I been back from China? How many days have I been stuck in the corridor? And how many times has my boss seen me, but not even said 'hello', let alone 'how was the trip?'. Not that I expected a red carpet or anything, but one word of acknowledgement would be nice...I totally give up [sigh].

As another example (I won't launch a tirade on how this company's work practices suck), we have two Indians over here at the moment, helping out the software guys. These 2 guys have been here a month already and not one person has attempted to show them Tel Aviv. So, me and O are taking them out tomorrow for some beer and pool. Not that I feel I should bother, but you gotta feel for these guys...

Methinks: time for a serious change.

In future weeks? - "Please open your books at page 23. Today's lesson: the First Conditional. Lucy Liu (fantasising about some of my potential Asian students), please see me after class, I have something to show you..."

Monday, October 25, 2004

Hole in my head

Continuing in my out to disgust mode, you might want to look away if you're averse to looking at teeth that have been detached from their natural abode...but at least the black hole proves my pain wasn't imaginary.

On doctor's orders, I'm now holding an ice-cold beer next to my mouth. Only problem is that it's not attached to my lips, but rather to my prevent the way, it was a wisdom tooth, I am officially dumber than I was this morning...

China, Part II

Well, after reminding myself of the sub-standard toilets here in corridor land in the previous post, I had a flashback to China and 'the squatter'...

In China, Western sit-down toilets, with a seat and flushable, are generally found only in hotels and a few restaurants (sometimes including American fast food places like McDonalds and KFC). Elsewhere, what you’ll find is a short ceramic trough embedded in the floor, usually stinking to high heaven. If you're in any doubt as to the whereabouts of the nearest squatter, just follow your nose.

Coming across one for the first time, especially when you are desperately tightening your buttock muscles, is a little shocking. With little time left, you have to carefully balance yourself over the hole while lowering your clothing. Be careful not to lower too much, otherwise your clothing will soak up some of the nameless liquid pooled on the floor (might be a good idea NEVER to go out in China wearing overalls or a leotard). And balance is crucial because most of the squatters seem to be very slippery; not advisable to squat after downing a few beers.

Aim and shoot. But most importantly, bring your own toilet paper. It will NOT be provided. DON’T put the tissue in the toilet. In most Chinese toilets you’ll find a little trash can, usually overflowing and usually adding to the aroma.

Most squatters also have a 'meet and greet' option. Most do not have a door or stall to separate users - Christ knows how they do it, but I saw two guys together, squatting away while having a chat about something or other.

The worst squatter? That must belong to the long distance trains. There seems to be a competition amongst passengers to see who can leave the most disgusting scene for the next user...

One question that springs to mind: How the hell does someone with a broken leg use the squatter?

Below is a shot of a squatter complex in the Tiger Leaping Gorge, SW China. The doors are left open invitingly...

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Wanderers reunited

O returned to the corridor of power this morning, though no sari in tow. Apparently she'd popped in on Thursday dressed up authentic Indian style, complete with red dot on the forehead. Nutter...

We swapped a couple of tales, some of which are way too risque for your delicate ears (cheating married executives, snakes and Indians dropping their trousers and openly shitting along the highway, all in the same tale), while she has whet my appetite with various job offers in Bangkok and Singapore, promising to smuggle me over as her own private Technical Writer. Just show me the money, throw in a few English students and I'm all yours dahling...

Hard to believe, or maybe not, but the Indians she worked with have a much nicer working environment than our little corridor. They get to play table tennis whenever they need a break, have a dining room open 24 hours, etc. When they came over to visit us a few months back I'm sure they were surprised to find that the great "Western" power that is Israel is actually not quite what it makes itself out to be. And then they saw our toilets, especially the one on the second floor, and realised they had Israel beat...

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Duty free toothache

All those chocolates bought in the duty free have been making their impact on my teeth this last couple of days. Today the pain has peaked at a new level, a level that even cotton wool balls soaked in arak can't kill. Shit! Another visit to the dentist? Twice in the same year?

The pain will be relieved (or magically transferred to my pocket, as I have to fork out for Pay For View...), when, of course, Arsenal demolish Manure in tomorrow's game of the season. 2-1 to the gooners (OK, so not such a demolition).

Friday, October 22, 2004

It's the thought that counts

Mrs. anglosaxy came up with a corking idea this morning: a DIY coffee session on the beach. So she made a flask of coffee, Turkey's finest, and then dragged me screaming and kicking out of bed. I slipped on my flip flops and off we went.

The sun was crisp, the heat not too overbearing (it was 9am) and the music fairly decent as we headed for our usual spot along Tel Aviv's strip of freebie beaches. That was until we hit the junction at Jabotinsky/HaYarkon. Shit! Look at that traffic jam. A bomb alert? A nasty accident? Quick, switch channels...Shit! The Love Parade! The whole strip of beach road was closed!

[rage] My frustration at the ineptitude of the traffic police kicked in, especially as I had an hour to kill while waiting to get to the next exit. Wouldn't it have been fairly easy to put a big sign at the earlier exits, so that some people might have avoided this section altogether? Once you went past Arlozorov, that was it matey, no turning back...[/rage]

Well, the coffee was great, though supping it under Kikar Atarim wasn't quite the start to the day we'd envisaged...

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Size does matter

These piddly little 500ml bottles of beer, I feel so girlie holding one in my hand...I'm already missing those giant TsingTao beers!

China, Part I

I'm going to tell a few tales about my time in China, this is Part I. I'll try and add a few pics here and there.

Arriving in Hong Kong is always a great start to any holiday, at least it is for me...I love the place, especially areas like Kowloon with its barrage of neon lights, night markets and good little places to eat. And as for the gorgeous Chinese women strutting around town...

So there we were, me and M, stranded in Hong Kong for the night as we had just missed a flight to the mainland and would have to wait for the next flight in the morning. As you probably know, Hong Kong is very expensive, so we decided to save some money and ended up staying in the rather pitiful Chungking Mansions building in Nathan Road, in a place called, rather botanically, the New Garden Guest House, high up on the 12th floor. Our room was a rather rank double room, about the size of a tuna tin. There were no windows; the only access to natural light was a 1cm gap in the wall above the ill-fitted air conditioner.

That meant a night on the town, starting with a little shopping expedition down Nathan Road. As hunger kicked in, we were soon tipped off about a local restaurant that is the place to be, so off we went. The place was huge, hidden away on the second floor of a fairly anonymous building, the kind of place you'd never find as a tourist...and we were, of course, the only Westerners there, amid some 100 diners. Politely turning down the offer to eat the metre long fish displayed in the giant fish tanks, we went safe and had sweet and sour pork. Accompanied by giant bottles of beer - 650ml - we were soon enjoying the experience, while trying to fathom out just what the tables alongside us were eating...

As the beers flowed, we decided to finish the night off in style at the Peninsula Hotel, one of HK's finest, for a wee cup of coffee. They have a very splendid bar on the top floor, very splendid prices too...but the view over HK harbour is pretty spectacular. However, the icing on the cake was the WC. You feel like you're peeing on the city as you look out across the lights and buildings via a very large window...worth checking out just for the hell of it!

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Feeling it

This jetlag malarky aint much fun...I'm feeling a bit more lively this morning, but yesterday evening I really struggled through the English lessons. A fair bit of yawning was going on, stifled as much as possible of course, but it wasn't helped by my student who was quite literally yawning his ass off (he'd had a long day and arrived late for the lesson, so I'm fairly content to believe that the lesson wasn't that boring).

And as for the return to reality, whoever said you need a holiday after returning from a holiday was right on target...I'm trying to get my head round a number of ideas and finding it hard going. And as per every return to Israel, I'm questioning my desire to be here. Being of goyish persuasion (non-Jew) and permanently itchy feet, I sometimes ask myself just what the heck I am doing here...this feeling usually wears off after a few days, but even this time mrs. anglosaxy is ready to uproot herself and plant herself in a new location. Those English teaching jobs in Shanghai/Beijing currently flooding my inbox suddenly look very appealing. I just told a corridor inmate about my being born and bred in Hong Kong and she finally understood my love for the Far East. It's hard to explain and put in words, but the last two times I've landed in Hong Kong it's felt like "coming home"...Esteemed forebear, I blame the Chinese nanny! All those sweet nothings she used to whisper in my thought she was telling me what a gorgeous, cuddly little buggar I was, well, it was all part of a master plan to brainwash another laowai.

Talking of corridor inmates, the sari-bedecked O returns to Israel today, looking forward to swapping tales over a beer...

Well, what can I say, watch this space...

Monday, October 18, 2004

Back in town

Got back this morning after a juicy 12 hour flight. Feeling a bit knackered all day but managed to squeeze in one of the 20-odd DVDs that I bought in China, all of which are perfectly legit [ahem...] and come with perfect Chinglish.

China was great, though much more of a challenge than other countries in the Far East, such as Thailand. The lack of English is quite amazing; a typical example is arriving at the 'Tourist Information Service' (marked in English) at any airport/bus station and discovering that none of the clerks manning the desk can speak a word of English and all the pamphlets they have available are only in Chinese. Once China understands the concept of tourism it could become the place to visit...

Back to work tomorrow, though really feel like jacking it in right now...I've got a couple of irons in the fire, gently stoking up some heat at the moment, and which could mean my temporary withdrawal from the Holy Land, I'll keep you posted...

Saturday, October 09, 2004


China and the Internet. Incompatible. Slow is the word.
Blog. Inaccessible (can post but can't actually see the blog or its comments).
Hong Kong. Kunming. Dali. Lijiang. Tiger Leaping Gorge. Chengdu. All great. Just don't ever catch a bus from Lijiang to Jijiang - 9 hours of puking, spitting Chinese. Hell on wheels.
Next stop - Shanghai.
See you in another 10 days or so - I'm sick of trying to access blogger so I'll wait till I get back.