Monday, February 16, 2009

Visiting Israel: Meeting with Ran (again)

Wednesday evening I did something that I tend to avoid doing whenever I’m in Israel.

I drove.

Yes, I used to drive a lot in Israel before I moved to Canada six years ago. However, I already got used to the easy driving in Canada that I find driving in Israel a bit… how to say it without sounding sissy… challenging now. Israelis drive at the right-hand side of the road, as in North America; yet drivers here are far, far, far more aggressive than anywhere else I’ve been in.

Montreal is known to host the worst, most aggressive drivers in Canada. My advice: if you think Montreal is a terrible place to drive in, then don’t even think about getting behind the wheel in Israel, especially not in the Tel-Aviv area as you are almost certain to lose your mind.

So I decided to drive to Ran’s apartment in Ramat-Ha’Sharon – one of the nicer places to live in because it’s very close to Tel-Aviv and nowhere near as crowded.

One of the first things I noticed while driving is that, what I used to consider “long distances” before moving to Canada, now seem extremely short. Everything in Gush Dan – the Hebrew name for, effectively, “Greater Tel-Aviv Area” – is so close. It’s a 15km distance between my place to Ran’s, out of which 10km are on Israel’s major highway (number 4).

I guess you get a different perspective of “distance” after driving more than 12,000km following your favourite band.

I arrived at Ran’s place, and met him and his 2-year old son downstairs. The little kid was reluctant to co-operate with me – not surprising, considering the fact that he’s seen me exactly once before, when he was half the age he’s at.

We went upstairs to see Karin, Ran’s wife. It turned out that she’s been having the flu for the last few days, so we had to keep distance.

After about an hour sitting in Ran’s living room, we decided to hit a coffee place for some coffee. Karin stayed at home, and Ran, myself and Zoe (their dog) took a short walk to a nearby coffee place.

The coffee place was called “Cafe Cafe”; a prominent coffee chain, it serves modest food and good coffee. As we were seated, I responded to the hostess’ greetings with a smile and some sort of a sentence that, for some reason, appeared to Ran as “flirting”; obviously I refused to buy it, because I (a) suck, big time, at flirting and (b) couldn’t tell a woman’s approval from disapproval if it crawled up my leg and bit me. So we just left it at that.

On our way to the coffee place, and during the entire time we were there (slightly more than an hour), we hardly stopped talking. Speaking with a childhood friend is different from speaking to any other type of friend; topics for discussion appear to come out of nowhere, you know each other so well that you can almost guess what the other side can tell but you still enjoy it very much.

I strongly believe that no method of conversation is as useful and joyful as a face-to-face one. All other methods – email (the worst), online chat, even telephone – simply don’t cut it. I tend to get bored very easily – not with the other side as much as with myself – that I don’t see the point. That’s why I rarely, if ever, maintain long-running email threads with friends, or chat for hours. Conversation is much more than the actual message being broadcasted; it is, first and foremost, about the tone,then about body language.

I see more frequent visits to Israel in the coming future.

I had some sort of a juice, Ran had a late dinner, we took a few shots and fled the scene. Walked towards his house, bid him farewell and off I went to deal once more with Israeli traffic -

- successfully; no one was hurt.



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