The Obvious

in jerusalem

Posted in israel, places, travel by theobvious on September 4, 2009

The airport smells of palm trees. A Filipino cleaning lady is sitting in the empty corridor, rocking back and forth with a note and a cellphone in her hand. Are you beseder, okay?, I ask in Hebrew. She looks up uncertainly. Hebrew no, sorry, she says. English? Russian?, I ask. Ruski, she lights up. Is everything horosho, okay? Do you need help? She sighs and gets up to point at something for me. No no, I protest, I help you, yes? You need? She rocks her head slowly, turns to her supplies cart, hangs about for a while then pushes it off down a passage.

Jerusalem smells of spicy meat, hot asphalt, something sweet. At night it smells of flowers fluttering in the light wind from the hills. It does not smell of figs, though when I come out into the courtyard they are sticky under my bare feet. Sadeh?, asks the postman. No, I reply. Water bill in their name, he says. I shrug – okay. Sign here, he says, giving me the bill in an envelope, smaller than the one already on the mirror, in someone else’s name, placed there by somebody other than me.

I like the way time works here (night is just day with the lights switched off, it comes so early and everything takes so little notice of it), the smells and the tastes. Israel tastes to me like breakfast dairy, like freshly baked pita bread of which I eat entirely too much, like the salt of the sea in which I bathe entirely too little, like the curried meats I don’t eat anymore, but their taste lingers, like bottled water, like fresh fruit of so many names and colours.


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