February 26, 2009

Classic Israel Moments

“From the sublime to the caw blimey,” is that how it goes?

We are in the car turning onto a highway. We stop at a red light. It is a beautiful evening. The sun is setting and the sky is a mix of purples and pinks. We are all in a thoughtful kind of mood. The car next to us rolls down the window and the guy in the passenger seat yells out something. Two guys are in the back seat and everyone is in hysterics.

We roll down our window and stare at him: maybe he needs directions. He makes these choking sounds and yells out to the world. “Ho Hiflotz!” I recognize this word. Hmm. It takes a minute for me to find the root of this verb and then to conjugate it. Translation: He farted! Only in Israel would one not be too coy to publicize this. And these were not young teenagers – oy va voy.

Now we are biking. Just love to be out on my bike on those warm February days. We bike through some citrus groves and then across a field. We cross a gully and then connect with the road. A car was waiting to pass us just outside a farm. We pass the car and wend our way down a bumpy, dusty dirt road that is closed to traffic. Ten minutes later, we appear on the northwest side of Raanana, close to the park. We keep on biking.

A car pulls up beside Amir and drives alongside him, trying to get his attention. Amir stops and the driver hands him something. It is his bicycle pouch. In it are his house keys, car keys, office keys and his palm pilot, a record of pretty well every important phone number and contact we have.

He realizes that this pouch must have fallen off when he went down the gulley. Now for the driver to actually find this pouch on the ground and then to catch up with us was a feat – we had gone down a road that was not traversable to cars. So for this guy to get back in his car, assume the direction we were taking and then try a longer route to meet up with us is really quite something.

People here will really go out of their way to help. These are moments when we realize that we are all one big family and deep down, people really care. And since we are one big family, perhaps this is the reason there are so few cultural boundaries in Israel: case in point is the flotz scene above, performed unabashedly as if the guy were in his own house.

Postscript: Amir actually lost his phone again later on that day. We were in a store and quite a while after we had left, he realized that his phone was gone. He retraced his steps and they handed it back to us at the counter. Phew!

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