Wednesday, August 30, 2006

THE ULTIMATE COLLECTION: You know you've been in Israel too long when...

  1.'re in a lift and don't even notice the guy yelling into his cell phone.
  2. ...someone says 'snack', you think: watermelon.
  3. can't tell the difference between a Goldstar and a Tuborg.
  4. put your luminous safety jacket (required by law to be in-car) over your car seat.
  5. start supporting Brazil during a World Cup.
  6. eat sabras (prickly pear), seeds n'all.
  7. don't blink when handed an alcohol free cider drink.
  8. start advising your host how to cook his/her barbeque meat.
  9. have an amusing army anecdote and weren't even in the army.
  10. think nothing about queueing to get into a coffee bar.
  11. call a chocolate cake a "kushi" (black/negro) cake.
  12. queue for yeasty products once Pessach breaks.
  13. shout up from the street at a friend living on the fifth floor.
  14. start to enjoy shoddy service and make repeat visits to a place where you are repeatedly shafted.
  15. ...your second sentence is "How much did it cost?"
  16. wear flip flops to weddings.
  17. even start wearing Crocs.
  18. buy a Sarit Hadad disk.
  19. actually play the disk a few times.
  20. ...matkot (beach tennis) is your main form of exercise.
  21. talk wayyyy louder than is necessary.
  22. no longer wait in line, but go immediately to the head of the queue "just to ask a question".
  23. ...all tourists look the same to you.
  24. spaces make you nervous.
  25. hear Wham's 'Last Christmas' in August and don't even flinch.
  26. find state-employees helpful, knowledgeable and friendly.
  27. ...all your mother-in-law's friends have been plasticly enhanced.
  28. think nothing of eating in the street, humus dribbling down your chin.
  29. can't put a proper sentence together in your native language.
  30. pay those pesky kids to clean your windows at every junction.
  31. aren't aware that one is supposed to pay for software.
  32. ...a PhD in Nuclear Physics fluent in 4 languages cleans your house for a pittance but she is from the Ukraine so it's all right.
  33. use the word "Nu" at least 10 times when listening to a friend's story.
  34. no longer ask yourself why there are so many jeeps in this country.
  35. find that it saves time to stand and retrieve your hand luggage while the plane is on final approach.
  36. start clapping when the plane lands.
  37. regard traffic signals, stop signs, and indicator levers with equal disdain.
  38. accidents become a source of heartwarming humour.
  39. forget that the other person needs to finish speaking before you can start.
  40. arrive 30 minutes late for a meeting but still manage to beat the other meeting attendees.
  41. ask how much people are making and expect people to answer.
  42. are the last of your original group of friends still in Israel.
  43. ...your idea of a larger home is an extra 10 square meters.
  44. can swear fluently in Arabic.
  45. buy a thick winter coat on October 1st.
  46. wear your new winter coat on October 2nd.
  47. ...your family stops asking when you'll be coming back.
  48. buy a water cooler.
  49. leave the plastic wrapping on your new car's seats.
  50. ...knives and forks feel, well, strange.
  51. get homesick for a pita stuffed with felafel and tehina when away from Israel.
  52. no longer laugh at the angles of metal scaffolding.
  53. wear body hugging t-shirts to show off your love handles.
  54. know enough Hebrew to make Israelis laugh their socks off.
  55.'ve killed at least 100 cockroaches with your favourite 'killing' shoe.
  56. look at the local women/men and start fantasising about Scandinavian women/men.
  57.'ve seen Midnight Express, Hair and The Princess Bride at least 5 times each.
  58. know the words to Hotel California.
  59. shorten supermarket to 'super'.
  60. consult your English dictionary far more than your Hebrew dictionary.
  61. ...everything seems normal.

And with that, I'm off. Time for some shnorkel (snorkelling) and quality time with the missus and junior. See you in a few days.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Israel - China love epic

M, as promised...

Me, I'm a big fan of Asian women. Mrs. anglosaxy is well aware, so don't get mad at me. I have a feeling it has something to do with my early days, being born in Hong Kong and being looked after by a Chinese nanny. Freud would probably concur. But this story isn't about me...this story is a love story of sorts, a tale of cultures clashing in the middle of little ol' China...

M spent some time in China a couple of years before we made our little journey. All on his tod. Brave little buggar, because China is a very difficult country to navigate on your own. But perhaps less difficult when you befriend L the local tour guide, as M did. Brave little buggar.

A connection was made, not so easy, what with the limited communication in English, the limited time together. Let's call it a "holiday romance" even, a brief but sweet relationship. Which carried on over the next couple of years amid a steady flow of emails and phone calls. Not exactly a long-distance relationship, it was a "connection" of sorts, something tugging at both their hearts to keep them in touch. Or so it seemed.

Then M and moi jumped over for a visit, back in October 2004. His Chinese connection had been warmed up in the microwave via a flurry of emails and calls. M was a happy man. After 2 years or so, he would get to see L, who seemed likewise smitten and ready to fall back into his arms again. Forbidden Fruit was coming back to town.

After a few days in China, we made it to Chengdu, L's home town. It was also M's birthday, so it was looking like M might just get his cake and eat it. Repeated calls to L confirmed that the perfect night was on the cards. And that's when it all went wrong...

I remember having a quick shower, a quick change of clothes and a quick flirt with the gorgeous Chinese hostel receptionist, before going back to our room to check on M. I'd also been looking forward to his birthday night because we were going to try some real Chinese cuisine accompanied by a few of those HUGE Chinese beers...but I wasn't planning on being a "spare wheel", I had my exit route planned. Which is for my ears only. Anyway, M had sat on his bed, looking a bit puzzled. L wasn't answering her phone.

Again and again he tried. And as each call went unanswered, his puzzled expression grew. In the end he gave up, we went out, had a great meal and a few beers and a laugh, but I'm sure M was hurting inside, just a wee bit. It was also pretty much the end of our trip together because I was on my way to Shanghai, he was headed further up north. So the next morning, I flew off, he stayed. We were fucking hard so no tears were shed. We also had a few choice words for L, I'm sure you can imagine...

Anyway, I made it to Shanghai, M stayed in Chengdu for another day or two. And started to use his wits.

He got a Chinese friend to call from her mobile, and, what do you know, L answered! It seems she had been screening calls, the little minx. After confirming her identity she was informed that "a friend" wanted to speak to her - and she promptly hung up *. M by this time was totally perplexed but resigned to the fact that she didn't want to see him. All had been fine and dandy, really fine and dandy, just a couple of days or so earlier. What the hell had happened?

M went back to his room, and though not a religious guy, actually had words with the bearded one in the sky. He realised that she didn't want to see him, but he begged the big fella for one last chance to see her, to close the circle if you like. He also decided to take a trip up to beautiful Jiuzhaigou, where he and L had talked about spending some time together, before flying to Hong Kong where we were scheduled to meet up again before flying back to Israel.

A little despondent, a little bemused, M set off on the arduous 12 hour trip. Not an easy one, especially when you're hurting. Not easy when the trip you scheduled for 2 becomes a solo flight. Even the amazing natural beauty of the Jiuzhaigou lakes and waterfalls didn't help, especially when overrun by hordes of Chinese tourists, all yakking and trundling along behind their tour guides.

But hey, who the hell is that over there? NO WAY!! Wait, it CAN'T BE...IT IS!!! L, in all her tour guide glory!

Yep, M got his last chance meeting with L. I'm not sure it's something she really expected, but M was a happy camper. Quite what the odds stacked against this chance encounter were is anyone's guess. OK, they talked, but there was never the same intensity that had previously been boiling away. And M didn't get to ask her just what the fuck she'd been playing at...but the big fella upstairs had been listening, the circle was now closed.

There's no moral to this story, apart from perhaps that things never seem the way they are when in a foreign land. Me and M have gone over the possibilities a few times, and it looks one of these takes the money:

  • She had a boyfriend/husband and had no idea how to shake a persistent foreign devil off.
  • She didn't want to get seriously involved with a foreigner. It was OK to chat on the phone and share a few innocent emails, but when the foreign devil turns up in your home town, slam the door shut.
  • She was a lesbian commie bitch. This usually wins after a few beers.
Though of course, we'll probably never really know just what went on in that pretty little Chinese head...

* I later heard about this via email - on reading this in a Shanghai Internet cafe, I actually shouted "Bitch!!" at the screen...

Saturday, August 26, 2006

A window of opportunity

When I rented the shop in the smallsville mall, it seemed that the back wall was, well, a wall. It was painted white and had the previous owner's logo emblazoned on it. So it had to be a wall, right? Ha! My plans of attaching a big whiteboard to it were soon shelved when I discovered it was a huge window, approximately 2m x 2m! So, I've been scraping the paint off the last couple of days and it's been driving me mad.

Why the fuck would you paint over such a big window? It just adds so much more to the room. OK, if the sun is a bit blinding at a certain hour, surely you'd put some blinds up? Is this Israeli logic at work or is it me being stoopid?

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Like chocolate...

*mops brow*
*mops brow again*
*checks the temperature on the air conditioner*
*bloody hell*

* 75% humidity and 27 C at night, it's all good eh?

Learning the ropes (Israeli style)

I'm getting a feel for this management malarky.

I recently had a run-in with the copier service guy, who decided that I owed him 6 weeks service fee for the 6 weeks he disappeared off the face of the planet. Welcome to Israeli service, someone told me, though after being here for so long, it wasn't exactly news to me. Anyway, I put my foot down and shouted back and the pesky little bastard gave in. Ha, "gave in"...make that agreed that he'd been having a laugh.

The lying fucker even told me that he'd been at a pre-arranged meeting that he actually failed to turn up to, and had the nerve to suggest I was lying to him about me waiting for him! Straw, camel, back. Two days ago he came to pick the copier up. I made sure 2 huge geezers were there to greet him, especially after the previous time he turned up with a huge geezer of his own. I'm not getting my hands dirty, especially when it involves a drive down south. No time, love, no time. What do you know, he's all smiles now and wants me to come round for coffee...

Get the fuck out of my life, copier geezer!

Oh, and yesterday I bought two cheapish printer/copiers, one for each school. If only the service geezer had been providing a service, he could have had twice as much money coming in from me...

Monday, August 21, 2006


Been working at my school's new premises this morning, getting it spick and span, with a fresh coat o' paint et al. And now I know what it feels like to be a goldfish. Every couple of minutes somebody walked by and stared inside. I was very tempted to pull a mooner, but thought I'd better not, these could be future instead I stuck up pages of Friday's "broadsheet" newspapers. Anybody still desperate enough to get on their knees and peer inside surely deserves a moon shot.

And last year's "in" color scheme of dark orange and darkish green has been replaced by a subtle shade of peachy orange and a yet to be decided upon color. What do you think? It's basically for one and a bit walls...I'm leaning towards white/cream, though was wondering if a violet or red wouldn't add a splash of color...

Porn or art?

Well, what do you expect when I come across 3 gorgeous blond dolls and a strapping GI Joe? At least the blonds look impressed...

Saturday, August 19, 2006

And it starts all over again...

Ohh, I almost forgot, today sees the start of the English footie season (Premiership). Luverly. My predictions, which have become dangerously wrong over the years:

Champions: Chelski
Runners up: Liverpool
Third: Arsenal
Surprise team of the year: Aston Villa
Player of the year: Michael Ballack / Cesc Fabregas / Owen Hargreaves (if he joins Manure)
Biggest disappointment of the year: Chelski running away with it again
First manager to go: Glenn Roeder
Going down: Watford, Reading and Middlesboro
Number of Arsenal games I will see with the local Gooners: 10

Watch them come hopelessly untrue!

Friday, August 18, 2006

Mini me or Maxi me?

Mmm, do I invest more and more on the schools, including paying out a reasonable salary for another teacher (regardless of the number of students I have/will have) and heavy advertising in the local press (4 or 5k on half page ads, money I don't actually have I should point out)?

Or do I go minimal and bootstrap it, including bringing the teacher up from down south (she's pretty good and I trust her a lot) once or twice a week and just concentrate on flooding both towns with flyers? Basically using income to fund any further expenses without a loan.

I'm stuck in the middle somewhere...

A hazy shade of door

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Agent AS

If you live in the Modiin area, I have some hot jobs for you. A friendly Israeli start up is looking for quality control guys, as far as I know you just need your head screwed on, you don't need years of IT experience. But you do need to be English English, not American, because their product is based on the British online market. Good money too, AND you get morning/afternoon tea breaks! Contact me at my anglosaxy address, over there on the right, if you're interested. I'm just doing this as a favour, nothing else.

We're dewish

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The bus

"The bus". Another name for the local eatery. It has 4 wheels, but is entrenched in concrete, as far as I can tell. I once spotted junior cockroach roaming through the pickled cucumbers, but let it go. This week, one of the Corridor crew spent a night in hospital after munching on a lunchtime sarnie. No more bus trips for me, at least for a couple of days.


Aaah, a slice or two of Sangria and I'm a happy man. Can't say that I'm a connoisseur but tonight it went down very sweetly. Out tonight with M at Tapeos (a Tapas bar, couldn't find a link), we ended up climbing over fences in the Kirya compound (the Israeli army's main headquarters) in Tel Aviv, don't ask. Possibly not the smartest thing I've ever done...had this feeling that we were being watched for some odd reason...

There was one moment when I was precariously balanced on a wire fence, desperately trying to get a footing in my saucily coloured Crocs, and just waiting for the spotlights to explode in a flash of light and thunder. I guess I managed to jump down in the nick of time.

M, I promised to tell your Chinese love story, it will come in the next few days...but an important message was learnt tonight - alcohol is good!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Seriously now...

Don't mind me, I just need to say something...

To be honest, I feel very disconnected from this recent war and its now nervy cease-fire. At its onset, yeh, I felt a connection with the Holy Land, but recently...

I'm trying to think why and it's probably because of a number of reasons: 1) I'm very busy at the moment with the schools, 2) my area of Israel (the center) didn't experience any of what the North has been through the last month, and 3) I'm just not Israeli enough.

I feel detached. Despite mrs. anglosaxy's brother serving up near the border (he's an officer in the reserves) and her stressing out because of it, despite my tearful new cellmate's boyfriend being sent up there last week, despite the constant media barrage every night, I still feel like this is a war that somehow doesn't belong to me, doesn't have anything to do with me. Does that make me a cold hearted bastard? I'm not sure.

The problem is, in times of trouble, I don't feel particularly enamored with this country. I'm not Jewish, I don't have this burning Zionist blood whizzing through my veins. You won't hear any "We will win/we shall overcome" bursts from me. I'm just this regular Brit geezer who found himself a life here. There are a lot of great things about this country, it's just when the shit hits the fan, as it regularly does in this neck of the woods, living that life becomes a wee bit harder.

I won't go into the politics of this war, though I'm totally in favour of Israel's recent actions. In fact, I believe they should have gone in much harder and with more focused, pinpoint missions. This was a war Israel was never going to win. So many lives were lost, needlessly. So many young soldiers, so many reservists, young Dads like me, heartbroken families at home. Which brings me to my next point...

Money time comes when I sit and watch the bundle of fun that is junior. It tears me up to think that this little blighter might well have to go through all this bloodshed again, and quite possibly on the front line. I'm sorry, but it makes me want to pack the fuck up and get as far away from here as I possibly can. Not right now, of course, but an exit is out there and it has the anglosaxy name on it. Of course, I'm not so naive to realize that a move away will only make him lust after Israel even more, something that only a good slapping / Muslim girlfriend / Arsenal season ticket will take care of. Better get saving if it's going to be the season-ticket...

It kinda saddens me to write all this, because I feel my connection to this country, not that it's been too strong lately anyway, is being severed, thread by thread. And I'm not sure just how many threads remain...

Monday, August 14, 2006

Friday, August 11, 2006

Currently spectacularly annoying...

A few things are really winding me up at the moment:

  • Ninette's new single. Homo Sapiette she may be, but this song is everywhere and is driving me nuts.
  • The neighbourhood pussies. Bloody nerve, using my garden as the local lav. Ever since Z did a runner *sob*, the whiff coming from beyond the shrubs just hasn't been the same. I hate cats...
  • Those fuckwits that stop in the middle of the road and then take 2-3 minutes to unload their passengers while simultaneously generating the biggest traffic jam in smallsville's history. Then drive exactly 2.46 metres down the road and pull over to the side. Fuck you.
  • Paper copier service geezers who don't turn up for six weeks to fix a broken copier and then demand six weeks service fee. Double fuck you.
  • The lids on cottage cheese over here. Not the plastic lid, but the metallic paper lid. Try and pull it off in one go, I dare ya!
Guess I should be thankful the above list doesn't include wailing sirens and booms in the night, but fuck it, you gotta laugh...think of me as 'entertaining the troops'.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

"O" my Gawd...

Wow, I was just thinking (oy, you at the back, stop that sniggering)...and it's just struck me how significant the letter O has become in my life in Israel, especially in regards to female names. This is pretty unbelievable, some might say spooky...

First of all, we have O____, who was my first girlfriend here, the girl I met on the beach after approximately 1 hour in Israel and then with whom I spent the next 6 years.

Then there is O____, a girl I'd rather not mention in too much detail, because she was one crazy cow. Let's just say that she played a BIG (as in huge, enormous) role in my staying here. Sorry, that's all you're going to get because if I tell you I'll have to kill you.

Then we have O____, a friend I've known practically all my years in Israel, who left the country last year after marrying Mr Right. Amazingly, just last week I was buckling up junior in the car when I heard a voice: "Ohh, I'd love to kick that arse!". Slightly shocked, I was delighted to turn around and see her, heavily pregnant these days of course.

Of course, we have O____, my ex-cellmate. Now heading off to Thailand as we speak for a month of Vipassana. Far out, man. Miss you lots.

There's also O____, my immediate boss in Corridor Land for the last 4 years or so. She's responsible for my staying in Corridor Land because she just won't fire me...

And perhaps most importantly, we have O___, mrs. anglosaxy herself. What can I say that I haven't said previously...?

Try as I might, without googling, the only name I can come up in English that starts with O is Ophelia. And come on, how many Ophelias have you met in your life?

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Monday, August 07, 2006

Give me a break...

...from my computer. Pleeeease! It's as slow and stubborn as a Depeche Mode "technical" roadie.
OK then, take a week off, I'll even format your C drive and add some RAM.
OK, cheers!

One week later...
Hang on, I can't send emails! What happened to Outlook Express?
Ah, I upgraded it.
Cool. Hey, but "a library file required by Outlook Express is missing"!
Just download IE6 and it'll install Outlook Express again.
Nice one guv'nor. ^ download ^ But the problem file is still missing!
No problem, just download IE7, the new beta version.
Sweet. Hang on, I can't *ahem* validate my copy of Windows.
You're fucked.
Am I?

Those little blighters

As junior battles the little teeth demons (yep, just after I tell She that my boy is like a street dog he's that tough, he goes and pulls a 3 day fever...), an ode:

Small, but extremely pesky.
From our first days to our last,
They keep us reaching for the whiskey.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Feeding the 5000

My company car, like so many in Israel, is leased. It comes with a 3 year contract that states that if I return the car within the 3 year period, I pay a fine of 2500 shekels ($560) per year not completed. Meaning, for example, if I return the car anytime in the second year, I pay 5000 shekels. If I'm fired, Corridor Land pays the fine.

O recently returned her car after quitting *sob*, and paid the 5000 fine. Two days later, another worker has her car. Wouldn't want to accuse anyone of being a tight-fisted tosser, but I find this mighty fishy...surely Corridor Land isn't pocketing the 5000 and making out like they return cars to the leasing company, but instead end up holding on to them for a few days before passing them on to new workers? This is not the only example, unfortunately, so it ain't a one-off...

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

oh buggar...

...and as soon as I schedule my Thursday afternoon/evening Depeche Mode session, they go and cancel the show...I'm very pissed off...