Wednesday, 24 April 2013
What the Hell Am I Doing Here?
After finishing at my father's hospital tonight at 20:00, my sister took me for dinner. I expected something quick and simple, but instead she took me to the center of Tel Aviv to eat in this really cool place, at least judging by the number of people crowding to eat there. Only that I could not be bothered, not in the least: I couldn't stand the crowds, I couldn't stand the density of people so close to me, I couldn't stand the noise of the traffic, I couldn't stand its smell, and I wasn't particularly in the mood to eat the particular food the place was offering: cool and artistically made sausages, burgers and chips. It brought back memories of how the need to hang out at the cool places, something I don't practice much in Australia. I think it comes down to the contrast between me and prevailing Aussie culture first, by the general lack of consensus regarding matters of coolness in Australia, and - years later - by virtue of being a parent. I ended up ruining my sister's night and choosing not to eat anything.
Yes, I know. I'm a creep, I'm a weirdo. Besides, I wanted to go back to my parents' place so I can watch Bayern Munich take on Barcelona in the European Champions League semi finals. At home these matches are either in the middle of the night or at times I should be concentrating on getting to work, so this was an opportunity to watch a promising football game as it should be watched.
As it should be watched also implies eating roasted sunflower seeds along with the game. That's the way football games are meant to be watched, at least by my childhood's experiences, and that's one of the privileges I lost upon moving to Australia: everyone should know the biggest drawbacks of the land down under are the lack of proper humus first and the lack of good quality roasted sunflower seeds second. And probably last.
I even had my sister drop me off in the middle of a junction sporting several all night shops, but alas: of the four shops I sampled only one was selling sunflower seeds, and those on offer were of visible poor quality. It seems that in my absence sunflower seeds have gone out of favor, or at least lost a lot of the favor they once held.
It turned out sunflower seeds were not the last let down of the night. The football itself was less than stellar (hence me typing this while the match is still ongoing). It's not that the game itself was up to no good; it's not of stellar quality but it's not bad either. The problem is with me: I have changed, and the football I used to enjoy watching so much does not speak to me the way it used to. In other words, years of football deprivation in Australia mean that I moved on to no longer care much for football in the first place. I do have to add I find the Israeli commentator (Yoram Arbel, in case you know him) way too talkative; again, the more subtle Aussie commentators have managed to spoil me over the years.
I have mentally noted plenty of other issues I have with the State of Israel, chief of which seems to be the rearing of religion's head above my memories of a much more secular country. It starts with perceived increase in the visibility of religious people and food places advertising themselves as Kosher in a city, Tel Aviv, I remember as religion free. But they all contrive to poke the same message deep inside my head: the country I grew up in and spent most of my life in can no longer be regarded as my country. True, I am very far from the Australian mainstream just the same; however, Australia is mature enough to let me live the way I want to. Australia is my home now, and not just because it's a much better place to live in; it is my home because that is where I now fit. There can be no doubt about that anymore.
Israel is different. Israel is a country that constantly pushes one message into my head: I don't belong here.