Rachella, our wild flower painted in zebra stripes, invited us to stay in her abode nestled in the old city of Yafo, the Arabic quarter of Tel Aviv. This opportunity suited our plans to return to Tel Aviv and meet up once more with Tahn’s friend Alon and to hang out with cousin Hila and Shay.
Our first night was a reunion with Ramat Hasharon and the busy routine of the Caspi-Nudel family. Dotahn was delighted to have his arm chewed on once again by Max the dog with his new lion tailed summer haircut and Emmily poked and tickled Itamar. The evening drew long into the night with the sound of bugs zapped to their death. Reclining on couches by the back porch, conversing with Hila and Shay, and teaching Eli the fun of contact ball with the inevitable smashing of glass.
The following day we made our way to Yafo to find Rachella’s house. She had not returned from Jerusalem as yet. Vague directions were sent, of keys to be retrieved from the milk bar next door, from Arabs who spoke no english and uncertainty as to which door to unlock made for an interesting start. A stranger tried to help and got some random keys from the Milk bar attendant that were of no use, as it turned out a sleepy and ill housemate was home and the door unlocked anyway. Introducing Shmulik, the other character of team Yafo. Dumping our bags in the art cluttered expanse of Rachella’s bedroom we ran to a cab as we were late to meet Alon. Delicious eats passed with tales from his recent tours of the world and short, sweet reminiscings of 1996. It was great to see Alon, even greater to see him so happy, successful and full of life.
Wandering full of Italian deliciousness we made our way back to the small dingy bar we had encountered on our first trip to Tel Aviv and settled into beer and the World Cup final. After overtime and tiredness we found our way back into the dusty streets of Yafo and bed. Morning greeted us with the hottest day of the year in Tel Aviv, sticky, thick and oppressive. The art galleries beckoned and we wandered amongst interesting photography exhibitions, amazing undersea textiles and video art. Emerging full of ideas we were knocked over by the heat and scrambled to a mall to escape its evil glare. Desperately searching for a cinema we were met with only ancient arthouse films in other languages and finally found our wish, a bit of American trash. We laughed light-heartedly at the antics of Toy Story 3 and wandered home to find Rachella returned.
Much laziness ensued, which suited the heat and lack of motivation. Shmulik returned home with a bag full of color, materials in many forms, patterns and shapes which soon filled the loungeroom in a colored explosion. Israel is a country plagued with cats. There are familys of cats on every street, past every corner. Strays, pets and mysterious cats, scabby cats and pretty cats, snooty cats and sleazy cats. They are literally everywhere. A cat had produced a family of small mewing sacks of fur under the stairwell gained by passing through a munchkin sized door, and we spent time prettifying the rooftop with its wonderful breeze and ramshackle views. Discussing snoozeberry dreams over coffee, snacking on bread, humus and salads, trips to the beach for sunset and sand creations, time was ethereal and comforting. A feast was prepared and enjoyed loudly on the rooftop over stories and laughter, all too fleeting the day came to return to Jerusalem.
A strange peace was upon the household as the final exhibition had come together and Yair was happy and relieved. Yuda fed us a wonderful dinner and we enjoyed a playful walk through the streets with discussions of extremism and contradiction. There were a lot of people and the show sprawled over many floors, buildings and alcoves. Snacking heartily we filled ourselves with photography, all of exceptional quality, wandering among the dreams and ideas of Yair’s class at Musrara School of Photography. Subtly shifting scenes of orthodox families, collage shapes of cities and natural wonders, mirrored bathtubs filled with limbs and light playing furtively over many surfaces, time slipped quickly and we made our way to Yair’s installation. The room was coccooned densely in white with an ancient technological tree winding up to the centre of the ceiling and spewing light and worlds across the walls. Perched on a black leather throne we saw the madness of media, the power of static, the emptiness of television spewing its ghostly flicker across the rubble of forgotten places.
We tumbled from this cave, reeling with its story and watched Ohad create deep soundscapes which touched us and threw us across the streets and alleys of his world. Emotional touches of Sartre, toys tinkering lightly, streets, crowds and guitars. Space, future chords and wonderment slipped by our ears. Before long it was party time and we were back in the Bass Club with pounding rhythms and much dancing. Yair played a crazy set, mixing in many Australian beats and building the dance floor into a frenzy. Danielle was Vjing with a great blend of insights and colours and the night passed in swirling, thumping abandon.
A touch of sadness hit as we sat with Danielle and Yuda, trying to tie the strings of our impending Egyptian journey through the haze of a mild hangover. It was time, once again, to say goodbye.