Thursday, 2 April 2015

Riding into the headwind, minus a phone

Our title this post comes from experience.

But first! Your latest satire digest! I write here about the Zionist Conspiracy rigging the Israeli elections (a topic I covered in my last post) and a response to the worldwide surge in anti-semitism lately - brave crusaders searching for Israeli gold. 

As I've mentioned in an earlier post, I recently bought a bike and use it as my main means of transportation around this great city. It gives me a lot of time to think, not to mention helping me reacquire my once trademark muscular legs (phwoooarr).

I've never felt so free as when I'm tearing along on my bike, dodging people left right and centre and pretending I'm on a motorbike. But there is one problem.

As I ride over a lot of open spaces and bridges, I encounter quite a lot of headwind. Not really an issue, you may think, except for I have a predilection for skirts and dresses.

I have since developed a Filisiphy (A friend coined the term; Fliss philosophy = filisiphy. See also: soflisstication) - that riding into the headwind is thrilling and unavoidable, but eventually your skirt will blow up and everyone will see your knickers. There ain't nothing you can do about it but keep on peddling and continue your journey.

Sometimes it's anticipated, sometimes not. Either way, it's entertaining for others to watch.

And I've ridden into the headwind recently. An experience (which has now concluded, but it took a while) demonstrated the rarely-seen, awful side of Israel. I debated about whether to disclose it, but rationalised that this is something prospective, shiny new olim need to be aware of.

Mein damen und herren, let me preface this by reminding you that I am completely alone in this here country. When bad stuff happens, or potentially life-threatening situations occur, there is but one choice - to get through it.

That's mainly due to such positive experiences with Israelis themselves. Israel may be a lot of things, but I've never felt more at home anywhere else. Israelis are referred to as 'sabras' - a weird little fruit which is rough and prickly on the outside, but sweet and yummy on the in.

Israelis are, ahem, very 'passionate' people. They generally (not all, but...) shout and scream a lot at anything and everything, but the second they detect an accent, they'll embroil you in a long-arse conversation, about your life (where you're from, why did you make aliya, are you single? Oh, that's a shame. I have a son/grandson/great-grandson), if you happen to accidentally trip up in the street, 5 people will rush to help you from all directions. I've never seen anything even remotely comparable to that in London.

But, there are always those dickheads that have to go and ruin it for everyone. Back in my teacher days, I would very quietly but publicly single these kids out - before they even tried anything - and let them know it would not be tolerated, and due to the relatively good behaviour of everyone around them, they'd be held even more accountable. Sometimes, examples need to be made in order to teach a lesson - literally.

And here we go. I mentioned a while back that I was happy, living in Tel Aviv and it was all coming up Milhouse, right?

Pictured: Vertical and positive happenings for Milhouse

And I was. Until I noticed that the woman I was living with was using me as an accessory to illegal activity,was the filthiest person I'd ever met (and I used to teach teenagers, so that's quite a tough competition) and was definitely more than a few fish short of an ironmonger; a few sandwiches short of a picnic. A few tea bags short of a cuppa.

In other words, she was batshit insane.

It all began when I was searching wildly for a place to live in Tel Aviv. This is no mean feat, and schlepping to view places from Jerusalem, an hour away, was problematic. When I would turn up, it would be a popularity competition - who 'fits' the other flatmates best, for example, or (as in one memorable case) someone signed for the apartment as I was sitting on the bus between the two cities.

So when this older lady, who stressed the urge for privacy, wanted to take cash every month and a lump sum security deposit, I ignored my (scarily accurate) gut feeling, being so relieved at finding somewhere that I agreed to live there. I returned a few days later to sign something she refused to call a 'contract', insisting it was an 'agreement' between us. In it, she signed her name (twice) as the landlady, alongside the amounts I had given her and the dates.

The ins and outs are unnecessary to know, but the salient facts are these: The bitch ripped me off and stole my money, later refusing to give it back. She believed that according to our 'agreement', I had to find someone to replace me should I leave early. I did succeed in sending around numerous people, only for her to dismiss somewhere up to 15 of these people. She said she wouldn't return my deposit money until I had found a replacement. Noticeably, her behaviour changed once I'd told her I was leaving. She would burst unannounced into my room, waking me up purposely in the morning. On one scarringly memorable occasion, she burst in on me in the altogether, standing there screaming 'Dai? Nu?' -something vaguely translatable as 'Well? So?' while I struggled to sort myself modesty-wise.

Anyway. It transpired she needed girls of a certain look - dark haired, around 27ish, quiet and who wouldn't communicate with the neighbours. After moving into my new flat, an offhand comment from someone led me to think - maybe this mental case wasn't actually the landlady, and was renting the place. If so, she had no right to have taken - and refuse to return - my money.

After a lot of super sleuthing (Yeah. Badass) I had confirmation that she wasn't who she said she was, had given me a false ID number, had rented the place illegally and was using me as an accessory to her crime. After trying and failing to locate the landlord, I contacted Sigal (such a beautiful name for such a גועל נפש) and told her I knew what she had done and that I'd be contacting her landlord unless I saw my money back.

Oof, she did not like that! I suddenly got a stream of vitriol, after she had ignored my messages for upwards of a month:

Even her texting look kray-kray

If your Hebrew ain't up to scratch, it says something along the lines of: if I even dared to try to exhort her, she'd get the police on me and DO ME IN. I was offered to come and take a portion of the money on a Sunday, but I'm a disgrace to my country and a cheeky-arse bitch, long story short.

So, I got myself a lawyer - a solid bloke named Tzvika, who has a passion for helping olim out - for free. He sorted it out, communicating with the Sea Witch (she bore an uncanny resemblance to Ursula the Sea Witch from the Little Mermaid:)

Like it says on the tin

...and a very, two month-long story short, Tzvika got my money back, barring 11 shekels, which the Sea Witch refused to return out of spite.

All of this is a life lesson, obviously - be careful what you sign (and coming from a whole family of lawyers, barring 2 of us, I shouldn't have been so stupid), and take the good with the bad. But also, more importantly - ridiculous people like these need to be taught a lesson. Aliya is difficult enough without 50 year old lonely petty criminals taking you for a ride.

In other news, I managed to lose my phone...and all of my aliya pictures so far. It flew out of my aforementioned bike at some point when I was aforementionedly tearing along the streets of Tel Aviv.

Maybe it was just time for a fresh start and to fully absorb into my new Israeli identity. Either way, I'm one fake security deposit up and one phone down.

And onto my second-ever Israeli Pesach, starting tomorrow night. It's only the second time I've celebrated it without my family [YES ROBERT, I DID FIND THE AFIKOMEN FIRST AND YOU CAN'T DENY IT AS IT'S NOW IN WRITING], and my first as a real-life Israeli :)

חג כשר ושמח לכולם!

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