leon gork tour guide
Leon's No Newsletter 234
Being forever short of time The tourists have left me in the lurch again and I’ve had to find new ways of amusing myself. I’m rushing hysterically into this search; not because I feel out of place being idle in the midst of a world of activity and change going on around me, but because, since childhood I’ve been beset by a feeling that there’s something I should be doing and I’m not. This feeling affects all my actions, namely any act that I perform is accompanied by the feeling that it’s the wrong action at the wrong time; that I should be doing something else. This weakens every action I take, no matter how insignificant. It is the curse of my life. I even take a book to the toilet, watch movies or listen to a recorded book during meals.
As I write this, for example I’m listening to Villa-Lobos with Victoria De Los Angeles. Thanks to my friend Donald, who repaired the DVD on my computer. I love it and I remember, as if it was yesterday attending a performance of Ladino lullabies by Victoria De Los Angeles at the Jerusalem theatre in 1980. She must have been 60 by then but the beauty of her voice and the songs had me in tears. I was only 40 then and was enjoying my kids; Emanuel was about 20, studying law, Ariel about 17, about to finish high school, Avishai and Ittamar, about 4 and 3 respectively; busy little guys in nursery school. Now, 30 years later, everybody is busy with their professions and I am still listening to Victoria De Los Angeles, when I’m not with the grandchildren or at cinemateque or watching a movie on my DVD or guiding tourists. I still take the 110 to Modiin and the 400 to Kiriat Ono every week, as I’ve been doing for the last couple of years and go with Ettie to take my youngest granddaughter, Noga to the park, as we used to take Tamar, who is now 12 years old and preparing to celebrate her bat mitzvah in two weeks’ time. After a week of dieting I felt amazingly well; I was walking easier, not puffing and panting up hills and generally feeling more alert and I went to Genia, the dietician with Ettie. She weighed me and the scale confirmed my feeling that I had lost some weight, 5kg in fact. The energy I was using to carry those 5 kg now finds an outlet somewhere else; in my brain, my legs and who know where else. The question is what will I do with the extra energy when I loose even more weight? It’s like a poor man thinking of all the wonderful things he’s going to buy when he wins the lottery. Sadly, however this problem hasn’t arisen yet. Three more weeks of dieting have past and no more weight has been lost. I think that my body is still busy spending the extra energy that I gained for it. Perhaps it’s a good idea to help it along by doing a bit more exercise than my ½ hr walk per day. Nevertheless I’m not going to stop dieting because there’s a danger that I’ll put on weight again and I’ll lose the extra energy that I am so happy to have. Being determined now to acquire more energy by losing more weight I changed my diet for a new one that Genia has given me. Thanks to my friend Vincent and his lovely wife, Anja, who tore themselves away from their busy life in Holland to visit Israel for 3 days, I had a good excuse to see if there were any new places for me to discover in Tel Aviv. Vincent is a choir conductor and Anja produces shows; musicals and such like. Mostly they visit Israel at the head of tour groups of their musically inclined friends, but this time it was only them. The day before, after a walk in the Old City and a visit to the new virtual reality museum in New Jerusalem, known as The Friends of Zion Museum, we walked along Jaffa Rd., now an open air pedestrian mall, with a railway line down the middle, to the Light Rail offices to purchase a Rav Kav, a card onto
which journeys to anywhere in Israel can be loaded, conveniently saving the busy traveler time and money. They were staying at The Golden Walls, an excellent hotel, conveniently located by the Damascus Gate, near the Damascus Gate Light Rail station.
We loaded a one day Tel Aviv “go as you please” on to the “Rav Kavs” and proceeded to the Flea Market, one of the highlights of Jaffa. It wasn’t new for me or for anyone else, even for tourists visiting it in the days of the Ottoman Turks, more than 100 years ago, but it has been so much renewed that it might as well have been new for me. I like places to be new and neat, but I also like to visit old places that look old. Time makes them look like that. I am pleased to say that renewing them hasn’t taken away their old world charm. Time is their asset and their spruced up appearance hasn’t taken that away at all. The buildings keep the old style, but they’ve been given new uses, like the toilet, which is in an elegant private residence of 100 years ago. It’s not artificial because it’s still the old Jaffa Flea market with all the wildest junk you can think of. It’s a grave yard. People visit and pay homage to their beloved old things; they stop and stare at a beloved chest of draws or at a pile of 78rpm records they remember from the days when they and 78rpm records were young, now lovingly laid here to rest by the grave digger, the “alte zachen” man who collected them, from strange, new people, who’ve taken the place of the old people. It’s the cycle of history, turning round and round, moving inexorably forward before our very eyes. The old is forever making place for the new. We walked along the sea front, watched the waves crashing against the rocks that form the only natural safe anchorage on the eastern Mediterranean coast, believed to be the harbor where Jona sailed from. Later, in the days of Herod the Great a new harbor was built at Caesarea. We rode another bus to the Yemenite Quarter, ate some humus, and then walked through the Carmel market. At the top of the market, where it meets Allenby Str. before it flows into Shenkin, Tel Aviv’s hippy str. old fogies like me sit and watch the crowd. I suppose that once people walked off with chairs, so now they’re fixed to the sidewalk.
In the evening, in the hotel lounge, the time had come for farewells; we embraced, had a glass of Cremison, a delicious semi dry red wine made by the monks of the Salesian monastery in Bethlehem. Tamer the hotel manager took our picture and we took pictures with him. He was the one who originally introduced us about 20 years ago. Wishing you a great No Newsday Yours truly Leon Gork