In The Hallway is a Portrait of the Queen

8 Feb

Queen Elizabeth II

Queen Elizabeth II

Busy busy day today. First thing this morning I had a phone interview for a freelance job with an international media company that is moving its Israel office from Ranaana to Herzliya. They are looking to find someone who can work three days a week, sometimes in the office, sometimes at home. Oh, sounds ideal! Fingers crossed about this one.

Then my new friend H. picked me up to take me to an event sponsored by the Diplomatic Spouses Club at the home of the British ambassador. I’m not a member of the DSC but H. told me it would be okay for me to attend as a newcomer. Didn’t get to see much of the ambassador’s residence as there were so many women there attending the event. The event was a lecture/slide show by Abbie Rosner about the cuisine of Galilee. Abbie spoke about living off the land on foods grown in the region. She also highlighted the three most important foods of Israel: wheat, grapes and olives. She told us about farike — wheat that is cut when it is green, roasted, and then ground. After the talk we all had a taste of some farike in a dish that Abbie had prepared ahead of time. It was quite good; she gave us the recipe and I hope to prepare it some day.

I met women from so many different countries this morning: Ireland, Kenya, Japan, England, Costa Rica, Brazil, Switzerland, Hungary. Americans were definitely in the minority. I met the British ambassador’s wife. She was very friendly and easy to talk to. As we were leaving she commented about the portrait of Queen Elizabeth II that was hanging in the entrance hall. “Oh, we have  to have that there,” she joked. Then she proceeded to tell us that there had been a more famous portrait hanging there but it had been stolen. When I expressed shock at that news she said, “It was returned within the week but we had to have the frame repaired. Someone had just a little bit too much to drink at one of our dinner parties.”

From there H., J and I went to our Italian lesson which is held in Tel Aviv. This was the beginner’s class. Not a very challenging lesson for me but it did help to reinforce some rules about prepositions. The intermediate class took place right after the beginner’s class ended. I stayed for the intermediate class as did two other women in the beginner’s class. It was a strange lesson indeed. The instructor handed us copies of a page with a handwritten story in English on it. We took turns translating the sentences of the story. Through the course of the exercise certain grammar rules came up and also info on idiomatic phrases. Oftentimes the instructor would go off on a tangent, talking about things unrelated to the story or the Italian language. Plus, I was astounded that in no less than three instances students received cell phone calls and the lesson would stop while they conversed on the phone. They didn’t even get up from the table to take the call. I’m not certain I like this unstructured approach to learning Italian. Rossana would never ever allow cell phone use in her classroom and I found myself longing for her grammar drills!

I got a ride home with K. who lives in Netanya (north of Herzliya). She is originally from Slovakia but she and her Israeli husband had lived for many years in Brussels. They moved to Israel about 10 years ago so he could take care of his ailing mother. The mother has passed away but they remain here in Israel. K. does not seem to be very happy here. She says it still does not feel like home. Not the way Brussels felt to her. Here, she had to give up her job because she does not speak Hebrew. She complained about the attitude of Israelis. She told me about the overcrowding of the city and how it is nearly impossible to find parking. In order to go to a concert in the city they had to park illegally and pay the fine because there was literally no place to park.

I returned home exhausted from my busy day, needing time to digest all the information I had been exposed to.


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