Friday, August 31, 2012

The kindness of strangers

Blanche Dubois said it but in Tel Aviv, my hubby and I are discovering it. I have been so struck during this trip by the generosity and openness and curiosity of the Israelis we've met. The other day, we met a friend of a friend--Ygal Gawze--an architectural photographer who is passionate about the bauhaus-influenced buildings in Tel Aviv. My s.o. and I have made a significant effort to reach out to get a taste of real life here, and Ygal took four hours to give us a tour of some of his favorite buildings, as he told the story of the birth of Tel Aviv Bauhaus and what was planned as the first modern Jewish city. It made me think of how busy I am at home--so often, when friends of friends want to meet me or connect, my first impulse is that I'm too busy. Often I'll meet people for a quick drink or coffee, but to give someone--a stranger--four hours of my time? Um. Never. And Ygal is not the only one. (BTW, if you are interested in Bauhaus, check out his website, Tel Aviv Bauhaus Walk). Bartenders have given us free shots. The temperamental cat who lives in the apartment we swapped for is showering my husband with affection. (See below) Gallery owners have shared memories of sitting in coffee houses in NYC, listening to a young Bob Dylan. A dancer studying at the nearby Suzanne Dellal dance center shared the story of her year in Israel. Another Jerusalemite trekked with us through the old city, showing us ruins and other nooks and crannies, despite the heat of the midday sun. When I return home, I want to be more open to strangers and friends of friends, offering my time, showing off my city, and generally tearing myself away from the endless busyness of work and schedules.
Below, a few photos of our nabe, Nevet Tzedek, a neighborhood in transition. You can see an example of restored Bauhaus and less-than-restored.

1 comment:

  1. Funny you should make this vow to be nicer to strangers, after traveling abroad. I made a similar vow, after living in London and then Budapest. I was going to open my home to strangers, as strangers had done for me. Well, my first was a lonely young man I met in a restaurant a few blocks from my apartment, who had come to the west village from North Carolina and was staying in a really seedy hotel along the West Side Highway. He seemed so vulnerable. I thought if he wasn't robbed, he was going to be molested. I took him home with me to an apartment I shared with my then boyfriend, so he could spend the night on the safety of our couch until he found a better place to stay. My boyfriend was up half the night thinking the guy would kill us in our sleep (he was really pissed at me for bringing this man home). The guy was a little nutty, I admit, but weird-nutty, not kill-you-in-your-sleep nutty. To this day, my boyfriend (who is now my husband) and I remember two things about this young man: he showed us a poem he wrote in which he used the phrase "feedwork." We had no dea what the guy meant. "Feedwork." And as the man left our house, he turned to our dog, and in a loud, bold voice, said "Goodbye, Scott!" He then waved his hand. Our dog's name was Fred.

    I haven't brought a stranger home since.