Monday, 25 August 2014

Alarming, biting stuff!

I apologise pre-emptively for the continuing negativity of my recent blog posts. I'm aware that my initial blog posts pre-aliya were admittedly much more positive and hopeful. However I'm still a FOB, so I'm allowed to be a bit whingey for now.

Today, dear readers (and I really am grateful for your readership, if a little confused as to why you'd want to regularly read the drivel which spills forth from my mind) we will be discussing alarming and biting stuff. Specifically, the siren - an 'azaka', as you may remember from recent posts - which surprised Jerusalem on Tuesday night, and an incident the other day where I was bitten by a dog, under circumstances which could only ever happen to me. 

1. The Azaka-towel incident

Picture it - a standard Tuesday night in Jerusalem. Nothing too exciting going on midweek; I'd been out shopping after ulpan, returned and gone to take a shower. I planned on having an early night, which in ulpan terms means any time before 1am. 

So there I was at half 11, post shower and switching on my laptop when two things happened; a siren began wailing somewhere outside my window, which sounded like those azakot I experienced in Tel Aviv a few weeks ago (You remember? If not - the first was rather scary; the second was quite irritating). 

I was actually quite taken aback - here in Jerusalem, surrounded by some of the holiest sites in the world to the 3 Abrahamic faiths, one doesn't really expect to have rockets shot at them. I mean, can you imagine what would happen if one hit anywhere near the Temple Mount?! All hell would break loose, from several places. It would start an apocalypse. 

But anyway. I was a bit confused about what was going on, to say the least, until my 'Red Alert' phone app also started blaring a second later. Up it flashed with 'Jerusalem', and stuff began to thump into place in my evidently shrinking brain. 

So it was really happening - but why now? So I had to run - now - to the bomb shelter? When I was sporting only a towel and my irritation? Could I struggle into some clothes and make it 3 floors down in only 90 seconds? 

Life is cruel, but I'm not stupid. Since I arrived to the ulpan over a month ago (!), I've kept a dressing gown by the door, 'just in case', much to the amusement of visitors to my room. Yet, in that moment of indecision and potential social embarrassment, it saved my skin quite literally. 

In a split second of the only triumphant thing in this whole sad story, I grabbed the dressing gown and shoved it on over my wet skin, all the while slamming the door shut, running and screaming to the others on my floor, 'AZAKAAAAARUNNNAZAKAAAAA' in a dignified, non-panicky fashion, obviously. 

And off we bolted to the bomb shelter. 200 people,all at once, in various states of dress. 

It was actually a bit scary this time, as it was so unexpected. In Tel Aviv, pre-extended ceasefire, it had become almost commonplace: people would talk about making arrangements before the evening bombardment. This one came completely out of the blue. 

And while we're on the subject of out of the blue/'wtf' style incidents: 

2. Dog bites and bitches

Now. I'll start by telling you the fictional account of what will most likely be the stupidest, most embarrassing injury I'll ever receive (BH):

On Friday, while strolling in Jerusalem's Tachana Merkazit (central bus station), I saw a child encircled by three menacing, slobbering alsatians, ready to pounce and attack. As the child cried and screamed in terror, I leaped towards it, kicking the dogs out of the way, when - unbeknownst to me, so busy was I - one attached itself to my right hand, clamping down as hard as it could. There was blood everywhere, but it didn't matter, for I had saved a child's life. 

Had that, chas v'chalila, actually happened, my injury (and the subsequent pain//lethargy/blood loss etc) would have been explicable and worth it. What actually happened was nowhere near as dramatic, and even makes it into the 'top 5 stupidest things that have ever happened to me, ever' list. 

It all went down while I was waiting to meet someone in the Tachana Merkazit. Having some time until this was due to happen, I had a wee mooch around all the shops I always see but never get a chance to go into, as I'm usually running for a bus. Or food. 

One such shop had interesting weird little gifts and was full of fluffy and shiny things. I think I've always known that my pursuit of shiny things would inevitably lead to some kind of downfall or injury. And so it came to be.

Anyway. As I entered the shop, I noticed there was a little rat-faced dog sitting on the floor by the till, his lead lying next to him, unattached. I registered that this was an interesting sight to see in such a shop, and continued on, touching and playing with all the (other) fluffy and shiny things around the shop. 

Once I had carried this out to my satisfaction, I rounded back towards a stand near the till, to look at some particularly glittery things near the bottom. I reached down to take a closer look, and - out of the corner of my eye - saw a blur of something moving. 

The dog - for g-d knows what reason - had launched himself at me, quite out of nowhere, and attached himself to my hand! Later, I'd see that there were several other grazes along my hand, and scratch marks all the way up my knees - but at that moment, all I registered was the feeling of him sinking his teeth in. 

I did what anyone would do - start running away - but he followed me, trying to get at my knees, my ankles, anything he could reach. I think I even threw a few shiny things at him to stop him, which finally attracted the attention of the owner and shop assistant. 

You'd think they'd be sympathetic - a foreigner being chased around by an apparently bloodthirsty dog - but no. Even though the bites were bleeding pretty badly by that point - down my wrist; onto the floor - the owner's only reaction was to pick up that little gobshite and try to leave! 

Seeing this, I shouted at her - in Hebrew, noch - to come back here right now and look at what her dog had done to me. She was hysterically shouting at me, stuff I didn't even understand as it was too fast, but the gist was that she thought it was all fine; he'd bitten her loads of times before (as if that makes it acceptable) and I shouldn't worry - and then she tried to leave again. I pointed at the rather impressive amounts of blood emitting from the bites (and on the floor) and said I'd have to check that out. And if I had to have it checked, she'd be the one paying for it. 

She started shouting at me again, that he had certificates stating he was clean (again, translating from Hebrew here, I know it sounds a bit sordid in English) and I was being dramatic, that I didn't need to go to the hospital. Then she tried to leave again. 

At this point I got angry. I shouted that, if she left, I was calling the police (despite not actually knowing the police's number in Israel, but still). That stopped her. Despite yet more protestation from her, I made her give me her phone number (she refused; I started dialing 'the police' again) and she started crying, saying that thing she called a pet would be put down if I went to the hospital, that he didn't have rabies (or 'rabbis', as one of my pupils once wrote - 'The squirrel bit her, and she got rabbis', I recall. Either way, both are scary methods of contracting deadly diseases and religious leaders). 

Obviously I don't want the little bastard to be put down - I'm still feeling the loss of Benjy.  On the other hand, I'm in a new country and I was bleeding loads. It was fairly obvious that I would have to get this thing sorted.

So that charming female finally surrendered her number and left. And then, once the battle was over, I realised I had no idea what to do next. In Blighty, I'd go to the A&E, but here, my doctor's surgery closed at 12 (Israeli institutions and services keep weird hours, which bizzarely change day to day and usually end at 12pm) and their 24/7 phoneline was bloody useless, is difficult to hear and had no English speakers (if I have to speak Hebrew, it has to be on a clear phoneline, and when I'm not sobbing, you see). I didn't even know if there were any emergency rooms near, or how I'd find one. So I did what I suppose any bleeding, knackered olah chadasha would do - I burst out crying. And that's when the person I'd been meeting there called. Through the tears, I said: 'dog, bite, blood' and hung up. 

I've had a bit of a crap week. This was merely taking the piss. I stopped myself crying quickly (DAMMIT I AM BRITISH AND WE DO NOT CRY IN PUBLIC) and went off to the pharmacy. I got an antibacterial wipe to clear up the blood, shut my eyes and went blank for a couple of minutes while I considered my next move. 

I thought a bit about Corny, and my friends back home, and my flat, and Pizaza, and my (lovely, very well raised, non-biting) dogs. I also thought, had I contracted Rabbis, my mum would have a shit fit and want me to go back. 

In the midst of all that crazy, I received a phonecall. The person I'd been waiting for came to meet me, taking a cab over as I had sounded 'a bit off' (for that, read 'crazy').

Off we went to the emergency clinic around the corner,and - as I was having my blood pressure taken and some tests done - he went to collect the service fee (a total of 82 schmekels) from that charming female counterpart of her pet. 

I had a tetanus shot, which didn't hurt at the time, but dear g-d! About half an hour later, my whole arm went numb and felt really heavy, and it didn't subside until Monday morning. It was all a massive faff which I would have liked to have done without, and was absolutely knackering to boot. One arm was numb, while the other had pain radiating all the way from my war wound.

It was even more of a faff when, on Monday morning, still feeling exhausted, I had to bunk off class to go and get the once over by my doctor, who said that I wasn't going to die of Rabbis as the bites were healing well. Once I knew I was out of the danger zone, we had a laugh about the whole thing. 

But never mind, it did happen, and there were even some positives to come out of this - I have a cracking story to tell about my in-shop-dog-bite, amongst some other stuff.

As for what I've learned, I'm not entirely sure. What lesson/s can I derive from this experience? Never the same shop as a dog? A little dog?

I don't know. But take heed, people. Avoid dogs with clear symptoms of Small Dog Syndrome.

Here's to a less exciting week. 

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