Thursday, August 15, 2013

Israeli Pastimes

I have been thinking for months about this posting. And over the past year that we have been here in Israel, a few things have become very clear to me. Israel has many pastimes.
1. Cleaning.
Woman of Israel are obsessed with cleaning. At least the Arab women I know. I haven't been to any Jewish houses to witness their level of cleanliness, but Arab women are OCD about cleaning.
They typically wake up before the rest of the household and begin their daily routine. Generally that consists of sweeping the entire house, then dumping soapy water all over the floors, and squeegeeing it outdoors. Sometimes that is only done once a week. Thank goodness because it can be an arduous task. Then they clean the bathrooms, and the kitchen. You will not find nary a crumb or speck of dust in an Arab household if there is even a whisper of a guest coming over. The house must appear perfect at all times. Children will be kicked outdoors or into their bedrooms as to appear they do not belong to the household or that they are the most perfect children in the community.
As an American coming into this, I have been overwhelmed. Houses here are designed as showpieces. All flooring is tile. Which is amazing for allergies by the way. But it shows EVERYTHING. Bedrooms area always either on a separate floor, or separated by doors, like in our house. You also have a "guest toilet" that is only used for guests. It's kept in immaculate, no one has ever pooped in this room cleanliness.
Our main living room has an enormous picture window. The window guy was in horror over the thought of a solid piece of glass in the center, framed by smaller windows on the sides that can be opened. "HOW ARE YOU GOING TO CLEAN IT!!!". That was his concern. How was I going to clean it. A few other choices of ours were followed by, "it's not as easy to clean as the other style". That is ok. I want THIS style. For the record, cleaning has not been an issue. Several times a year the windows in the bedrooms, and kitchen are removed for a hose down. Those windows consist of 5-10 parts. The first part is the glass itself. Then a single screen, then the shutters. They are all completely removable for ease of cleaning. I spend 1-2 hours a day doing basic cleaning, sweeping, kitchen duty, straightening up etc. And I take one day a week to do a thorough go over on the rest of the house. Once every few months, I do a HOLY CRAP, lets get the house CLEAN. My mother would not believe this was my house.
2. A tie between Cooking and Eating.
Somehow between all that cleaning, women cook. They make dinner in the morning. I kid you not. During the school year kids go to school early. Around 7:45am. So typically they drink their Nescafe ( a hot milk and instant coffee concoction that everyone from the age of 2-190 drinks, except my kids) then they take a snack to school for breakfast (10:30 am). Then they come home starving to death at 2:30, which is when they eat their main meal of the day, which mom conveniently made as soon as they left for school while they were cleaning. In the evening they will have a light snack, sometimes boiled eggs. Pastrami sandwiches, Tea with toasted cheese sandwiches.. And they finish the night off with Nescafe.
Now, as far as I can tell, men either take a break from work at this time, head home to join in on the meal, or if you work for a large company like my husband, work provides food for you!!! He gets about $10-15 a day in food allowance. He is given a card at which he can use at over 120 locations! He discovered a sandwich shop down the street where he can get a sandwich, a bowl of fruit, and a tall glass of freshly make carrot juice for less than his daily allowance. Plus, at work they have an espresso and tea bar, and enough cookies, pastries and candy to make anyone diabetic. He as the choice of going to the buffet, but it's filled with really heavy food that is difficult to eat at noon. We don't eat red meat. Which has led to a lot of "What do you mean you don't eat no meat!" Via, My Big Fat Greek Wedding.
3. Smoking.
I swear all the men smoke here!! Arab women in general do not smoke, Jewish women do. But the men. I think they had out packs of cigarettes when you enter high school. It's like the 1950's here where teens are only "cool" if you smoke.And they smoke everywhere. Coffee shops, the paint store. The tile store, the hardware store, the fruit shops, more than likely in hospitals... OH! I am pretty sure we were in a doctors office once and the doctor was smoking... holding babies. Inside cars. On the beach. Everywhere.
4. Peeing on the side of the road. 
This has to be one of the oddest. But it happens everywhere. At first Jay thought it was an isolated incident. Until we started driving him to work along the main freeway. Then everyday along the 32km drive, we would see 3-4 people pulled over. And they don't HIDE the fact that they are PEEING BY THE SIDE OF THE ROAD!. They get of their car, and just stand there peeing!! Jewish and Arab alike. Some at least stop at the bus stop and try to hide behind the shelter. But I have seen more men just whip it out and proudly pee. Parents holding their little girls, mid air, to pee. In parks too. I have gotten used to allowing Zane to pee on the nearest tree, or the farthest depending on how crowded the park is.
5. Speeding and in general ignoring any and all driving laws.
I can not even go into detail on this one. Motorcycles follow no known laws that I have ever seen. Other than stopping at red lights. Speed limits. Oh? Are there speed limits? Passing only on the left? ha! For sissies! You have to have balls to drive here. Somehow I found mine and have become the main driver. Go figure!

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