Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Notes from a hot country

  • Dead Sea is still on for tomorrow, but since it cost the employer a shiteload of money to get us out here (would've been cheaper if they'd bothered to book the hotel and airplane tickets in advance!), The Boss will stay in Israel till Sunday to complete the course - which is actually entirely unnecessary as today was about learning the software. The Boss doesn't write any more, his time is occupied well enough just being The Boss.

  • Met a bunch of local technical writers today. It's quite a scene in Israel, and the contrast is very interesting. Whereas in this country and in the US, a tech writer is a person of 40-something that has lots of cats, in Estonia the few people in this profession (by our estimation no more than 20 in the entire country) are very young; our own team only scrapes together a semi-reasonable median age on the backs of The Boss and Tank, who are 28. We are young, urban IT professionals with above-average income; the new Estonian yuppies.

  • I may have done mostly the tourist route in Jerusalem, but so far, I have seen nothing that would inspire me to go and blow myself up. In fact I have felt more apprehensive walking through inner-city Stockholm (which is preposterous) than I have in Jerusalem. The truth is that with all the security, there is very little street crime, and this is one of the safest places in the world to be a tourist.

  • Jerusalem traffic is insane, but there seems to be a method to the madness. Most cars in Israel are white, and I have noticed a very surprising number of Subaru Imprezas: the non-WRX version of the car is actually very mediocre, but here there's plenty of 1.6 and 1.8 versions. Who would need AWD in this climate?

  • Police cars drive around with the lights on (though no sirens). Nobody gives a flying fuck. In Estonia a police car under full illumination will have people pulling over to give it way. Not here.

  • Jerusalem's drivers rarely bother fixing bodywork. Dings are commonplace and largely ignored. I suspect it's similar to Paris in that regard.

  • In the same way as Estonians loathe the cold, Israelis loathe the heat. What they complain about as hot, we consider a very pleasant temperature. This is specifically applicable to air conditioning inside buildings. If our host had her way, the office would be positively cryogenic.

  • Israel in general is yellow to the same extent that Estonia is green. Our guide told us a secret: that Jerusalem is really full of hidden inner courtyards of astounding beauty. Hidden behind tall walls, they are a representation of the larger aspect of living in the desert: on the outside it looks inhospitable, but if you can get to the center, you will be pleasantly surprised.

  • Sabra is a cactus flower, a fruit you can buy in the market. It is also the colloquial name for a native Israeli. (If you've seen the movie Munich, you've probably noticed it.) The metaphor is much the same: it is hard and prickly on the outside, but soft and sweet on the inside.
  • Taking the train tonight to Tel Aviv. Should be a very scenic trip. Canon A620 at the ready.

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