Thursday, September 15, 2011


When I landed in Israel, all I could understand was Shalom.
Everywhere you go, everyone says it.
The friendly ones say Shaaalom and not-so-friendly ones say Sh-lom.

The first Shalom I got was at 5am at immigration at Tel Aviv airport so it wasn't the friendliest one.
I changed my Dollars to Shekels (Fun fact: they're made of plastic and don't tear) and took a cab straight to Daniela's place in Bat Yam.
The cab driver offered me a sweet probably to keep me busy so I wouldn't be screaming while he drove in what he thought was the Tel Aviv Grand Prix (later on I realised everyone is Israel thinks they are Schumacher).
I reached Daniela's place by sunrise and was ready to go to bed.

Daniela is my old friend from Art School in London who I've known for the last 8 years.
She moved to Israel a few years ago and after having planned to meet many times over the years, I finally made it there.
Now, Israel is a tiny country so you can travel from city to city like you're moving from one suburb to another.
We spent our first 2 days in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
We ate nice big lunches and dinners.
Daniela tried to get me to enjoy salad while I cooked her my specialty - instant noodles.
I'd make daily trips to the supermarket so I could get my fix of orange juice and flavoured yoghurts.

We had plans of traveling all over Israel.
- To Tel Aviv to hangout and go to the beach.
- To Jerusalem to see some historic monuments.
- To Haifa in the North to see the Bahá'í gardens.
- To the Dead Sea
- To Eilat in the south to go to the Red Sea.
And maybe some other places.

My first 2 days with Daniela were really nice. We got to catch up on everything we had missed out on in emails over the years.
We spoke a lot about life, religion, spirituality, boyfriends - basically everything I don't understand.
Here's an example of the fun conversations we'd have:
Daniela (on noticing a guy with dreadlocks): Isn't Rastafari a religion?
Me: Nooo. 
Daniela: I'm pretty sure it is.
Me: Would you date a guy with dreadlocks?
Daniela: Umm. Yea, if he was really nice and cute. And I could convince him to cut his hair.
Me: So, basically your answer is No.
Daniela: Yes.
I googled Rastafari that evening. Did you know it's a religion?
They believe in the spiritual use of cannabis. Hmm.

Getting back to Israel related stuff...

As my luck would have it, my holiday was governed by Murphy's law.
" Anything that can go wrong will go wrong" seemed to be the mantra of my trip.
Unfortunately, due to personal reasons, Daniela had to leave on day 3 of our much awaited trip and I had no idea where I was going.

As I said, all I knew was Shalom.

People do speak to you in English when you request them to. But, everywhere I looked, the signs were in Hebrew and I couldn't have felt more lost.
When I went to the supermarket I'd be buying items by looking at pictures since I couldn't read anything.

So, I could never know that this was peanut butter flavoured chips

or that this was peach flavoured water.
Yes, they have flavoured water. It's like iced tea but clear.

It all suddenly felt like a test.
I could see my trip running straight into a cul-de-sac and it was time to think of plan A.
(It didn't make sense to say Plan B since Plan A didn't exist to begin with).

So, I pulled out all my reserves of courage and changed my name to bond.

Or something like that.


radhika maheshwari said...

cant wait to read about the trip!!!!

Neha Kamath said...

i don't know where to start.
i have so much to talk about.
as you can see i wrote a whole post about my flight.

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