Monday, 10 August 2015

Closing the circle - the Ramat Gan chapter

Well, well, well.

I always knew there would be a day when the excitement and newness of aliya would wear off. Typically, it's the point where most people return home, once they realise it's not the fun non-stop action adventure they had anticipated.

Oh hi!
I have gone to the other extreme. While others return to their countries of origin (for several different reasons which are sometimes valid, such as not earning enough money/fear over security and constant existential threats/simply having made aliya for the wrong reasons), I have moved to the suburbs with my two cats. Yes, I'm up to two now, and they seem to be getting along very well.

I think this is the point where I realise that I have actually made my life here, just as I did back in London.  It's a scary and humbling thought.Not to mention - today I received my Israeli passport, so now I'm an official, card-carrying Israeli citizen.

The 'burb of Ramat Gan is a lovely place to live, but it ain't no Tel Aviv. It has everything you would ever need to raise a family - there's a bramch of my kupat cholim (health insurance branch) and bank, there's a nice high street etc - but not much in the way of nightlife. It's sort of like Stanmore in a heatwave. Even the mosquitoes prefer the hedonism and 24-hour life of Tel Aviv - the only time I've been bitten in these past few weeks was while I was at work.

 As I've mentioned before, moving is not fun in this here country. The entire process can take MONTHS - and this is just for renting a place!

A quick reminder of the order of events; when moving rented places, you have to:
  • Advertise/find someone to take over your room, 
  • Take yourself off the electricity and council tax bill by visiting the iriya (local council), and if you're moving to another city, visiting that city's iriya too, 
  • Make sure the tenant taking over has put themselves on the bills of the place that you're vacating,and nag them (for a long time until you get confirmation).
  • Move all your stuff. Sell your stuff. Get rid of your stuff. There's a lot of stuff.
  • Go to the Misrad Hapnim (Interior Ministry), wait in line for hours just to get your address changed or whatever.
  • Contact all your banks/kupat cholim/everyone and anyone who needs to know to say you've changed your address.
But this is fun!
It ain't fun.

Take my two attempts to change my address at the Misrad Hapnim. I've made trips to both the Jerusalem and Tel Aviv branches in the past - Israel's two biggest cities - and lived to tell the tale.

So up I rock to the Misrad Hapnim, Ramat Gan, at 7.10am, not expecting anything like the 3+ hour waiting time horrors of Jeru or TLV. Feeling smug that I'm the first one in line for when they open the doors at 8am, I'm told by a group of Russians that they are the first - all 11 of them, who arrived at 6am, and started a list.

So we all wait outside, as the crowd gathers on one of the hottest days of the year. It's already 30 degrees outside by this point and everyone is on top of each other.

The first time, I waited an hour and a half just to be seen and told I had the wrong documents and could neither change my address, nor apply for my passport. Off I stomped to work, which (now two hours late) was all downhill, so that was nice.

The second time was better. I managed to get everything done within an hour, but still got shouted at and told to return in ten days, do the whole stupid queuing system again, just to pickup a document. Grrrrr.
The Tiggeroo (half tiger, half kangaroo)

These bureaucratic pains in the arse aside, it's almost surreal to think that, at the same time I'm feathering my new home and worrying over connecting a bathroom sink pipe correctly, surrounded by grunge and water (DON'T ASK), there are other, awful things which concern me and my countrymen.

A 16 year old was murdered by a Chareidi while marching at Jerusalem's gay pride parade. A Palestinian baby and his family are killed and injured by religious extremists firebombing their house. A woman suffers first and second degree burns after a molotov cocktail is thrown at her car while she is driving, only because she was Jewish. A man is openly stabbed at a motorway petrol station, and Israeli soldiers are purposefully run over by a Palestinian driver. Iran has got away with bloody murder - in plain view of the world's watching eyes - while plotting to ensure my country's destruction.

And here I am, fretting about my sofa's pillows, or whether or not I can fit all my new crockery into my new kitchen's cupboards.

This is, I think, the dichotomy of living here. It's not a war zone, but we are all on alert, all of the time. You can get called up to reserve military service at any minute just from a phone call telling you to go. Everything can change in an instant, by any number of means. Better to be prepared though, than not at all (like some countries I know).

'Light relief': Tigger poos into the dustpan for some reason
Last Friday night, the rocket alarm system around Ramat Gan was broken. so the alarm rang continuously for 2 hours. Other than not liking the sound at all, that kind of thing does something to the nerves, especially after the war last summer.

But, despite all of this whingeing, I am really happy, if a bit bored (which is what I always wanted, so I guess I can't complain). I have my two beautiful kitties (just look at how beautiful they are!), a lovely flat and more.  I'm very lucky to have got to where I've got to.

But still. Would it kill my mates to come visit the 'Gan in a while?

Oh, and The Israeli Daily is now The Mideast Beast. Go stop by for some fab satire - because if you can't laugh...