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welcome to israel [and other places]

So I went to see about my Tourist Visa.

I had to sign in to the Consulate building [used to that, since I had to meet with these IDF-looking dudes in the NY branch of her Israeli bank, trying to direct-pay for some photoprint orders she made for me, 3+ years ago. Never got beyond the front desk, they just laughed.]

I was walking around the hall trying to find the office when they picked me up on closed-circuit security cameras and this Door started talking to me. The tone was all why-are-you-wandering-around-out-there? ... and it wasn't friendly.

I thought Talking Doors were straight out of Alice, as in Alice in Wonderland?

So I stood there and talked to this door.

This David door wanted to give me an application. Nope, already dled it.

I knew all about the $17 in cold hard cash, the bank statement I had to give them proving that I could really really afford to go, my El Al ticket [which they would give me back, I guess], my room reservations in Jerusalem, a contact over there, a contact over here, and the date they were going to force me to get the hell right back out of Israel. And come home.

Wherever home is, at that point, but we didn't discuss that.

Probably a military escort back to Ben-Gurion? They won't care where home is as long as it's somewhere ELSE.

All I really wanted the Door to tell me is if I could come back to pick up the Visa instead of having them mail it.

The Door laughed at me. It asked me why I would think anything else.

So I scurried away. Back on the first floor, they smiled at me and told me I didn't need to sign back out of the building. Because they had me on videotape talking to General Door.

I felt a little better when I read in my guidebook that Israeli checkpoints are almost always manned by trigger-happy teenagers sporting VERY loaded AR-16's who would rather be somewhere else. And I would be the reason why they are NOT somewhere else.

So I was very relieved that General Door didn't open so I could see the Israeli Special Forces on the other side. Probably aiming at me and sitting in a tracked vehicle. Mine wouldn't fit in the elevators....

Because I suddenly realized that I had *not* been in Boston anymore, I'd been standing on Israeli territory. I don't have to anticipate any Israeli checkpoints anymore, because I had been AT one. That's what diplomatic offices are, when they're located in another country.

But I had the last laugh, I guess. I log on and find four more websites that tell me citizens of the USA need their passport --- and that's it! I can stay 90 days. No Tourist Visa. No bank statements and any of the rest of that crap. Including the Visa photographs I dutifully had gone out and paid for.

I tried to find the original website, the one with the crap. It had disappeared.

I guess if I wanna complain about all the time lost and inconvenience and videotaping I better go to Beirut or Amman.

Except, if I do, that will piss off my own government. Whose passport this is, after all.

So, welcome to Israel! *dances the Haganah*

If they have Talking Doors in Boston, imagine what they have in the airport. THEIR airport. I'm already used to getting undressed in mine.

Hey, that's a good name for a rock group, right? The Talking Doors. It's not as good as the Fluffy Skulls, though. But the T-Door was not 12 years old, either.

Didn't you all just celebrate your 60th year of whatever-that-was?

"Guess I'll find out / When I get there." That's Tom Petty.

Me too.

It's all my fault, I've never done this before.

What made me feel REAL small was not the Door, in fact. I met this grrl on the subway, traveling past Harvard and MIT with her family. She lives in Switzerland and she loves to ski and make whatever the Swiss equivalent of snowmen are...and she said she hasn't been to America very much, only three times. She's ten. Her Mom laughed to hear that I am your poster-child for a tourist infant.

GAH. Ms. Snowgirl is prob an MIT prof in disguise.

I know all about how to get to Olympia, though: been there once, now next week again. TSA checkpoints I can totally handle.

JetBlue might be another thing, though, these days. I fear they're going to ask me for fuel donations somewhere 35km above Iowa. Or else.

Tell ya all about it.


( 23 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 6th, 2008 03:15 pm (UTC)
I've never seen talking doors! =O I feel like I'm missing out on something.

Aug. 6th, 2008 03:39 pm (UTC)
O Neta come over here on furlough and I'll introduce you!

I wanna see if General Door salutes you back. That's what you'd be missing out on!

Since you're IDF, if they even let you in the building, past the Boston cops, they would probably suck you up right through that Door and leave me outside --- so *all* of you could then talk to me through the Door.

In fact I missed you a lot yesterday when I was encountering all this force. Even though I know you're almost out!

[Of the army, that is ;) ]

I still feel very minoritized and I want you to tell me what you're gonna do with all your surplus military hardware.
Aug. 6th, 2008 03:58 pm (UTC)
I have no surplus military hardware. In fact I'm trying to keep my military hat by the skin of my teeth.

And I'm not sure I'd have the classification to go behind the Door {intercom is a lovely invention}. But if I could, it won't be because I'm a soldier, but because I'm Israeli and I'm lost and I'm 'family' and therefore should be helped.

Aug. 6th, 2008 07:09 pm (UTC)
What? You are going to wear your military hat on your teeth?

Yep, I can pass for lost but no way for Israeli. They picked that up right away on their cam. The voices I heard were VERY Israeli, though. Compared to mine.

Anna sounded like she'd just gotten off the boat from London, the first few words she ever spoke to me. I was impressed.

That lasted about 30 seconds. Then, she converted to American studentspeak and I was puzzled.
Aug. 6th, 2008 07:16 pm (UTC)
If I could, I would! It's orange and pretty.


You should hear my accent. It's hilarious. It's an interesting mix between South-African/south-Australian/NYCish/Israeli. Nobody manages to quite place it. XD {Makes sense, though. My English teacher was Sough African. My English stabilised in NYC. Then after I didn't speak English for a year I spent two months in Melbourne and it stabilised further. And, of course, I'm Israeli by birth.}

Aug. 6th, 2008 08:08 pm (UTC)
What? Youse is a noo yoahkah? In dis orange hat?

I've heard of Green Berets but this is a new one. Did you live in NYC for awhile?

I wouldn't be able to place an Australian or South African accent at all. Around here amid all these Boston accents --- Ah pahked mah cah in Hahvahd Yahd --- they tell me I sound like I'm from Ohio -- flat midwest twang or something; I dunno, never lived in Ohio.

There's even a tee that says HAHVAHD. It's hilarious because Harvard Square is full of oriental students atm. Babbling excitedly in everything Far Eastern and not in English at all.

I should hear your accent? Okay, we should have tea in Haifa! In Bostonese that would be pronounced hah-fah. I guess.

Having lived awhile in Texas, where the UT color is burnt orange, I'm right at home with orange. So I hope you bite down on your hat hard enough to keep it.
Aug. 6th, 2008 08:53 pm (UTC)
Oh, the IDF has so many coloured berets. http://www.zahal.org/Berets/p1.htm {they didn't bother putting on the usual olive green beret. I wonder why} - mine is the orange one, only it's more reddish. I hope I bite down hard enough too -- it's got sentimental value after my other one got stolen.

Oh no, that accent would be terrible! My one problem with my accent is my Rs. I can't stop my Rs from being Israeli/French. XD

And tea in Haifa? I think coffee is more like it. :D

Aug. 6th, 2008 10:47 pm (UTC)
OMG Neta -- can I really look like the IDF chief of Staff for 25 USD?

Well, I see that was 2001, so he's probably more now :)

WhatWhat? Hat larceny in the IDF? Say it isn't so X.X

An Israeli / French R.... Can't fathom that. But maybe I won't have to imagine it if you talk like that over coffee. I might have to bring an interpreter but coffee is a universal language, no? XD3
Aug. 6th, 2008 04:35 pm (UTC)
Ooooh, so when are you coming here? Hopefully not the first half of November, because that's when John and I are planning our trip to the US [family visit]. I'd love to get together for that tea.
At the Embassy, did you need to open your bag for them to search through it, when you came in?
Aug. 6th, 2008 05:36 pm (UTC)
Tea, YUM!

Certainly before 1st Tishri 5769. It'll be a mad tourist stampede then, so it sounds.

I'm back from Evergreen on 17th Av, so: pretty soon after that.
El Al does not seem to care [pricewise], the B&B in Jerusalem does. But I certainly will keep you posted.

I would like tea to happen, if we can work out the timing, fairly soon after I get there b/c my eyes will look like saucers all the time and I will certainly want to be able to see you!! So I will keep you closely posted. In fact I will go write you a PM in your LJ box right after I finish this reply.

The IL Consulate / Embassy in Boston is on the upper floor of an office building. Their floor has lots of other offices too. When I got to lobby reception they immediately flagged me as going to the 10th floor Consulate [becaue I'd asked them] but sent me right up.

When I got upstairs to those Israeli TV cameras they instantly saw I had my camera and another small bag. So even though I was on Israeli territory they never actually opened up the Door. Maybe they'd already X-rayed me and my bags. I would have been happy to open both of them if I'd gotten that far.

The curious time I'd had with Israeli security before this was at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC. I toddled in there and I not only had to unpack my laptop for the guards, I had to plug it in and turn it on [luckily my screensaver du jour was harmless]. They told me that they had to see if it really was a computer and not a bomb.

I got with the program and asked if they wanted to see a file or an Email. They said no and walked back to this group --- so I was alll marveling at my special treatment until I looked over and saw a grade school group on an educational tour. Each girl had to take off her parka and unpack her backpack and makeup cases, they body-searched the kids thoroughly with microwave wands and went through ALL the personal articles. And the class were all Jewish, too.

Their teacher just stood to the side and was very calm about the whole thing. They'd had classes on USHMM security, obviously.

BTW the Museum was absolutely, absolutely horrific. You can walk through an actual boxcar. And that is one of the more congenial exhibits.

So I think I will be relieved to see my heavily armed bored teenagers around Efrata and Be'er Sheva and Jerusalem. There, they are all out in the open. They also can never leave their weapons behind, so they all take off their uniforms, off-duty, and go to the clubs and restaurants fully armed. Just the opposite of what's allowed in the US.

My guidebook advises me to look like your typical dorky tourist. What you do NOT want to look like is (1) an activist (2) a journalist (3) a Palestinian. No, actually, that's what it says!

Since I'm not hiding in some dorky tourist group, but instead I am a Group of One, I'm thinking I should wear my passport around my neck and learn some happy, flattering Israeli words to call out to them.

I could also ignore them but I've been told that THAT is a bigbig mistake, too!

My book also tells me that 57,000 Russian olim have moved back to Russia. [However, 900,000 have immigrated to Israel since 1990.] So please stay put!

And that calendar stuff up there is not Brad being all learned and rabbinical, he's just reading from a cheat sheet and hopes he got the months right. If not, please tell me! =)

Aug. 6th, 2008 05:40 pm (UTC)
Dude, I suck at Hebrew calendar. If you were wrong with the dates, I wouldn't know!
Now please talk Gregorian =)
Aug. 6th, 2008 05:48 pm (UTC)
Rosh Hashana Eve is on the 29th of September. {so that means A of Tishrei is on the 30th}

Brad - a word of advice - most Israeli you'll be speaking with in your life don't understand a thing in Hebrew calendar. :)

Aug. 6th, 2008 06:01 pm (UTC)
So I guess it's only the holy scholars and monks who do? And they never come out?
Aug. 6th, 2008 06:06 pm (UTC)
We have monks? *blinks*

Nah. Only the super hard-core orthodox folk won't understand the Gregorian calendar, and the likelihood of you meeting them is pretty much close to zero. :)

BTW, when you make it to Israel, make sure to come to the north for a day or two, namely Haifa {biggest northern city, I think}. It's got a lot of stuff to see, and my two favourites are the Bahai Gardens and the Bahai temple and the science museum. :D Haida is an old city that's much more laid back about religious differences than Jerusalem and Tel-Aviv, and I like the atmosphere there a lot better. Plus it's an old city, so lots of stuff to see there!

Sadly, it's rather neglected when it comes to tourists.

Aug. 6th, 2008 06:22 pm (UTC)
Monks, yeah, over here they live in seclusion and soometimes distill wine to sell and study scriptures like woah and pray. Pray a whole lot.

The view I have of Haifa comes from pictures like my icon: during the last war the Hezbollah came down with no visas at all and touristed a couple hundred rockets into Haifa so everybody had to hide out or move out. The icon shows gradeschoolers writing them love notes onto artillery shells to be fired up there.

And even though I am not your average tourist at all, I want to come up there, you make it sound inviting.

Over here a group called CFOIC ran a support program during the war. It was to write an Israeli soldier a letter and put some money into a fund to buy them chocolate bars during the defense / during the attack. I was intrigued at that, so I did.

kk so it's dorky but I felt like this connected me to things over there, more than just through Anna.
Aug. 6th, 2008 06:28 pm (UTC)
Jews don't have monks. We have rabbis and people whose last name are Cohen and Levi.

Haifa wasn't bombed all that much in the war, since it's not nearly as northern as other cities. You're talking about norther cities, and anyway most of the damage is fixed mostly everywhere.

Haifa IS inviting. I love that city. :)

Aug. 6th, 2008 05:58 pm (UTC)
Yeah, Neta just told me about the same thing about how even native Israelis suck at the same thing!

Gregorian: back from Evergreen on 17th August. The Shofar is sounded on Monday, 29th September, to start the holiday; Yom Kippur is on Wednesday 8th October.

So I'm looking at maybe flying over on the 22nd / 23rd / 24th August [not all three dates, one of them haha!]. That's on a Friday, Sat., or Sunday. Other considerations too --- I just PM'd you.
(Deleted comment)
Aug. 6th, 2008 10:52 pm (UTC)
Oh, of course they do. At least, this girl did, it was a big broad smile! I was just referring to whether there was a word for it in Swiss. Is there a Swiss in the first place? Maybe it's a combo of French / German / Italian?
Aug. 7th, 2008 02:30 am (UTC)
There is Swiss German. I speak German fairly fluently, but when I was over in Switzerland, I couldn't understand a word they said unless they spoke in Hoch Deutsch (main-stream German).

PS- Stuff me in a suitcase and take me with you? *puppy eyes*
Aug. 7th, 2008 03:03 am (UTC)
Mochte du? Ach, das ist viel Wunderlich!! Ich hat das nicht kennt. Oh, fraulein Caylen, ich bin schwoonlich!

I remember something about Hochdeutsch und Niederdeutschesprache, aber das Detailen hier ist.

Ach, Schweizdeutsche Maedchen du!

I absolutely will NOT stuff you in a suitcase. With puppy eyes like that? Ach, das wuerden sein unmoeglich to the max. I will plunk you down right next to me with your Bette Davis Eyes and we will babble to each other in Splitzendeutsch and watch how fast these El Al secret air marshals surround us!

Well, j/k about the split-German part, I jut made that up. But the rest of it is pure and purrrrrrrrry.

Maybe you can convince school that you have to go to Israel and study Latin names for the plants there. There aren't any, of course, I understand it is all rocks and stones and shrapnel and dreams, and the only thing that comes out of the ground is land mines.

But Financial Aid won't have to know that, of course. That way you can get this huge Study-Abroad grant and we can go there and live it up in the name of academic research.... I'll design lights for you for when you give the slide presentation afterwards! [We'll do some filming von viel Buecher in das Botanischer section vom Bibliotek for the slide part. That way you can win the award for the best field researcher of the 1870's or whenever these dusty tomes got published.]

Das Ewigkeit Gemuetlichkeit wollen sein!!

Auf Wiederseh'n, Liebchen!

PS Can you drive an armoured military bulldozer and sing Das Horst Wessel Lied in the original [at the same time?] roflmao

We could always tell them we're rehearsing for a movie ...

On the other hand, we could always fly Lufthansa. And stop off in Das Wolfschanze und Bayern und Wien. Then we'd be right at home?

Wollen sie nach mich die DeutscheLehrerin geben?

I obviously need them.

[What I attempted to ask is if you would be willing to give me German lessons, not find German teachers. One of you would be plenty!]

In other news, there's this other song called "Wir marschen gegen Engeland.." *That* would go over like a rock, too.

Edited at 2008-08-07 03:10 am (UTC)
Aug. 7th, 2008 03:12 am (UTC)
Wonder how you say 'puppy eyes' in high or low German or anywhere in between.

Aug. 8th, 2008 01:40 am (UTC)
Ich glaube "puppy eyes" heisst "Huendchenaugen" oder anders wie das.

Schwoonlich? Ist das wirlick ein Wort? Haha. Ich habe das nicht gekannt. Aber meine Vokabular ist nicht so gross wie sie sollen sein. Auch meine Grammatik (obviously...). Ich habe Deutsch nicht seit die Gymnasium regelmaessig gesprochen, aber kann ich meistens verstehen. Ich wuerde keine guete Deutschlehrerin machen. (Though if you are that desperate, I could try my best to give you lessons.)

Heh, I doubt the whole studying Latin names in Israel thing would work. First, there is (as you pointed out) the lack of much plantlife in Israel--though I could study the wildlife. Second, there's the Israel part. My father would never go for that. I think I am going to save up some money after I work next summer, wait until I get my degree that fall, tell him I am going on a road trip with a friend for a week (or something along those lines), then sneak off to Israel for a week instead. Only problem will be when he asks to see pictures from the trip. Oops, must've forgotten to pack my camera. ;) No, but seriously, I am really considering that.

Und ich habe gar keine Idee was "Das Horst Wessel" heisst aber kann ich Liedes Rammsteins singen wenn ich das Tank (wie sagt mann "tank" auf Deutsch?) fahren. Es wuerd viel spass sein!
Aug. 8th, 2008 02:02 am (UTC)
This is so fun.

Tank auf Deutsch = "Das Panzer."

The Horst Wessel song was the political party song of the National Socialist German Workers' Party, NSDAP, and there's a much better known nickname for them. I was just kidding about singing it. If you don't know the nick you can take a moment and Wiki it or Google ...."We march against England" was more of an army song, when they thought they could do that.

Really = "wirklich"; no, I made it up, but you got the meaning!

Donnerwetter! Are you complimenting me with having a gross vocabulary? [I always thought it was pretty mild, actually, comapred with some.]

"Kann ich meistens sie verstehen" too, wirklich.

Du = ein wunderlich Deutschesprache Lehrerin madchen, das ist sehr sehr gut!

Ach, dein Walkuerelich Vater! Just don't give him your address. Stay in the Holy Land or in Stuttgart and send him email attachments ;)

Sneaking off to Eretz Yisroel is all too easy in the days of Internet shopping! Click and the Reichsmarke are Historiches. I decided on El Al because of the air marshals and anti-missile systems. You never know what will happen with Iran ...
( 23 comments — Leave a comment )


kiota too late for the stars
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