Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Je suis mouru à Liège mon amour.

Je suis peine.

Combien de personnes auront partagé ce texte de Florian Henin sur les réseaux sociaux ? Combien de personnes se sont dit « bien dit ! » ?

Florian Henin qui fait des amalgames et qui n’a sûrement pas entendu parler de cet Anversois (blanc) qui a tué une jeune nounou (noire) et ce bébé de deux ans à peine dans la rue. Il n’est sûrement jamais allé à Jérusalem dans le quartier Orthodoxe où les enfants jettent des pierres sur les passant seraient-ils un tant soit peu découverts et s’en donnent à cœur joie et à Hébron ce ne sont pas les touristes qui sont visés mais les Palestiniens (Arabes et sans doute Musulmans).

Tu te souviens l’été passé, il y a eu des émeutes en Grande-Bretagne. Sur les vidéos, on pouvait voir des blancs (athées ?)voler un noir, blessé, gisant au sol, en prétendant l’aider.

Dans mon quartier de Preston, il y a des Pakistanais (Musulmans) et des blancs (athées). Quand les blancs arrivent, je te promets, tu changes de trottoir, ils ne sont pas rassurants. L’année passée, j’ai assisté à une  manifestation, et devine qui jetait des fumigènes dans la foule et sur les familles (blanches) qui passaient par là ? Des blancs.

Aux USA, aux enterrements de jeunes soldats homosexuels, qui manifeste pour dire aux familles que leur enfant ira en enfer et que Dieu les hait et qu’ils sont la cause de tous les maux de la Terre ? Des blancs (Chrétiens) ! Les Musulmans et les Arabes sont bien trop occupés à fabriquer des bombes pour assister à ça.

Florian, sors de ta maison, lis la presse et ne crois pas tout ce que tu vois à la TV.

J’ai de la peine pour toi, Florian, et toutes ces personnes qui auront vu un brin de vérité dans ton torchon.
La violence et la haine ne sont pas propres à une religion, une origine ou une couleur de peau, mais bien à la connerie humaine. La xénophobie non plus.

Puis de toute façon, les Arabes, tous des juifs !

P.S. Florian, si tu me lis, la prochaine fois, donne l’occasion aux gens de répondre à ton texte ou laisse tes coordonnées, j’ai cherché en vain un moyen de te contacter pour pouvoir te répondre même en privé.  Ce n’est pas très professionnel de ta part.
Et puis ne dis pas que tu n’es pas raciste, rend-toi à l’évidence, tenir un discours comme le tien et ne pas être raciste n’est pas possible.

Friday, 25 November 2011

National Interfaith Week.

Very busy interesting week it has been and still not over yet.

Saturday - I was at a charity ball (I danced with 70-year-olds, there was an old man dancing like John Travolta in Pulp Fiction and I just wanted to take my heeels off and dance with him but I did not). I met Amy who told me about this week's events.

Sunday - I accompany a friend to Church. We get to see an architecture exhibition then we run away during the service because it was just not cool. People there weren't friendly like a congregation usually is and they let their toddlers run around - there must have been at least 13 children under the age of ten,

Monday - nothing.

Tuesday - I visited a Buddhist temple, the Central Methodist Church and a Hindu temple where there was a giant picture of the Sun God Surya (it's my name - yay) then attended an intro to the Bahai Faith. Then got free curry. Father John who is an Italian missionary dropped me at University.
Father John made me recite his address by heart so I can drop by for a chat and a cup of tea (I think he misses talking Italian because Priests usually prefer little boys).

Wednesday - I visited a Mosque. I had never been to a Mosque. I received dates, Holy Water from Zamzam in Mecca, samosas and a Qur'an after watching the last prayer of the day. I saw Father John again.

It was all so interesting, I have learnt a lot and I wish I could do it all the time (I love learning awesome new things, if my brain could take it I would be learning 24/7).

Tomorrow I will be in Crown Court (no I did not kill anyone, I'm reporting there) and attending a few other events with my new Muslim friends.

P.S. I'll soon write more about Israel and other stuff but I haven't had the time to do so, Uni work has kept me busy

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Jerusalem final part.

I am probably getting boring going on about Jerusalem in every single post... I shall change the subject soon. This shall be my last post about Jerusalem before I go on to other places such as Masada, Ein Gedi, Yam HaMelakh (The Sea of Salt aka the Dead Sea), Haifa, etc.

somewhere near the tomb of King David.

Near King David's tomb, I met an old guide, and again, I told him I had no money but he still wanted to show me around eventhough he was a real guide. It was a little late and I already had plans so he told me to meet him at Sha'ar Zion at 10am the next morning. So I went back the next morning and he was late so I sat waiting. Some people obviously working there started asking me who I was waiting for so I described the man. They got all worried when they identified him. "Are you sure?", "did he bother you?" "did he do anything to you?" and so on... I got a little worried when I finally saw him arrive but I made sure we stayed in crowded places. He showed me the tomb, the building around it, a small museum and Schindler's grave. I am glad he did because in the whole time I was in Jerusalem, I had completely forgotten about him (shame on me, I know, especially when I have seen the movie several times and when they show his grave at the end).

Oskar Schindler is in the Christian cemetery near Sha'ar Zion. It was very moving for me to see this grave. May he rest in peace.

If you get out of the Old Jerusalem by the Zion Gate, you can follow the ramparts and get to Dung Gate, one of the entrance to the Kotel and a way to get to the Golden Menorah, Chabad Street and the Jewish Quarter very easily.

Mafia and lost kippa at Dung Gate.

On an other occasion, I decided to walk to the separation wall from my hostel. I got on the hostel roof which had a 360 degrees view and made a note in my mind of the directions, yes it was a very approximate science. I walked to Sha'ar Zion, got out of the Old City and started walking down towards the West Bank. It was something like 8am so there weren't many people in the streets apart from a few workers drinking tea. They stopped me, asked where I was going so I explained and they told me I was crazy and that on my way back I should come by and have tea with them, I agreed but in my mind I knew I wouldn't find the place on my way back. One or two cars stopped to ask where I was going and everyone told me I was crazy, they also told me I should take the bus but I really wanted to walk. I walked around in trash, between derelict buildings, small shacks and houses, in filthy streets and eventually I found a way to the wall. I had to climb around a house, get past what looked like a construction site where a kew children in rags were playing next to a busy tractor/machine. They laughed at me and followed me for a bit before leaving me on my own to climb a hill. I climbed through filth, abandoned cars and plastic bags and I finally got as close as I could be to that giant grey wall.

I stopped, out of breath. I had walked for more than an hour in the sun. I took a few pictures and came a car. I imagine there is a road alongside the wall but I could not go further nor see it. I could see the police car though. It stopped at my level, 10 meters away from me.
I continued taking pictures pretending I had seen nothing, I took my diary out and started drawing.
On my right, 100 meters or so away from me higher on the hill, was a control tower. Out of the tower came a man who started shouting at me. "Who are you?" "Where are you from?" "What are you doing?" to which I shouted back that I was just a tourist from Belgium taking pictures and drawing. Not finding my answers very satisfying and understanding I would probably not move, he shouted that I shouldn't be there and that it was very dangerous. If the man considered the children playing in dirt dangerous, than yes, the place is dangerous. I went on, did my thing and only when I left did the car move back to were it came from.

I walked down the hill and started going towards Jerusalem. I rejoined the street and I must admit I was glad when a car stopped and proposed to give me a lift back to Jerusalem. Yes I am crazy, I took the lift. The guy did put his hand on my thigh to which point I told him to let me out and he did. He dropped me at Damascus Gate. He asked me if we could meet again for tea (Yeah right...) I said I was leaving Jerusalem first thing next morning. And I rushed back to the hostel.

Somewhere in the Muslim Quarter near Damascus Gate.

 So all in all I did meet some creeps (and I met more than I actually told you on here) in Jerusalem, there were some times when I did not feel very safe but if you never take risks, life can get boring. It doesn't mean I don't love Jerusalem, because I actually do and hope I will go back rather sooner than later.

Have a very nice day/night/whatever!

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Jerusalem part 2.

!! שבת שלום

I met so many people in Jerusalem, from the weird guy selling bread at Sha'ar Iafo to that homeless free spirited religious man who hangs out near the Kotel and the Golden Menorah Replica who invited me for a walk around the old city ramparts before buying me tea. And his friend who lives underneath his shop on Rehov Chabad who gave me a picture of an aerial view of the Old Jerusalem and a large bottle of water for no apparent reason then invited me inside to watch french tv which he did not understand.

I am glad I am writing this, in a certain way it allows me to relive things I did not especially wrote down in my diary.

At the hostel, I met David who was volunteering there and told me about a Rabbi (of whom I have forgotten the name unfortunately) who welcomes anyone that shows up for Shabbat dinner on Friday night, Saturday at lunch and Saturday night for the Havdallah. And the word is on the street so sometimes the house located in Mea Shearim is too small to hold the huge crowd and people end up eating outside. I went there twice with David who was gathering people to go with him because the Rabbi had asked him to. There is only one rule in the house: no politics.
There, I met Avi and Ruven. Ruven is a Yeshiva student in New York preparing his Alyah, he used to be a doctor. He spent a few hours explaining the American political system to me and sharing his life experiences. Avi is a physics teacher currently writing a book who showed me amazing places in Jerusalem. On Saturday evening, he took me to two different Havdallah services where there were only locals and just a dozen people because they were very private and after, whenthe sun had come down we went to Nachla'Or, the house of traditional Jewish music. It was halfway between a jamming session (everyone brings their instrument or just their voice) and prayer. Beautiful!
That night I sang my heart out eventhough I had lost my voice in the desert (it ran away!) two days earlier because of the aircon in the bedroom that couldn't be turned of.
I caught a bad cold in the desert, the irony.

I still have so many things to say about the people I met, the things I lived in Jerusalem, seriously I could go on forever about it. I shall say more later...

Friday, 28 October 2011

Jerusalem part 1.

Where was I?

On my way to Jerusalem. Tel-Aviv to Jerusalem, one hour by bus. I was never so happy to take a bus.

During my trip I kept coming back to this magnificent, so unique city.

After just two days, I knew my way around the old city which still had plenty of secrets for me to discover, but at least I knew where to go.
This city... it just made me feel like no other city never had. The history behind it, the legends, the atmosphere, everything just attracted me like a very strong magnet.

The view from my hostel rooftop.
It felt so great.
I won't tell you about what there is to see in Jerusalem because that is what travel guides are for and they probably have a better idea, I'm just going to talk about my experience of Jerusalem.

A hello here, a hello there as I walked the hundreds of year old steps of the Old City, as sellers were trying to get my attention and eventually my money. I never stopped. I was not there to buy made in china souvenirs, I was there to feel because Jerusalem is a city you have to feel.
However once in a while I stopped and it was always for the best, I guess I'm lucky that way. First time I stopped when a shopkeeper called me, I met Zyad, a maybe 50 year old man who looked like he was 70 and whose back was in pain all the time.
Zyad made me tea that day. Chai u'nana. Then he shared his lunch with me. The whole time I was in Jerusalem Zyad made me food and tea from that dirty old kitchen of his at the back of his shop. It was hard but I managed not thinking about the cleanliness or more like the non-cleanliness at all of it.
He taught me how to make hummus (the real one!), taught me typical recipes, let me cut his newspapers and showed me an Egyptian TV show (his favourite) about a Bedouin and his wife and much drama I did not understand a thing about.

Another time I stopped and this guy was all like, hey I will show you Jerusalem, I know it by heart. I didn't really want to because it was Friday afternoon and my plan was to hang around at the Kotel waiting for Shabbat. First thing I told him, and it's really a reflex you have to get in Jerusalem, was that I did not carry any money on me, because guides are the best at tricking you into showing you the city and explaining things to you and then  when they're done they'll ask you for money and then you feel guilty if you don't give them anything. If you tell them you have no money, they'll just leave you because suddenly you're not that interesting anymore. But that guy was like "I'm not a guide, promise, I just love my city and I'd like to show it to you". So there I was, following him in the Old city. He had a hard time showing me stuff I didn't know about because I'm just that curious and I already knew the things and places he is used to show people but eventually I learnt something new.
I made him understand I didn't want to miss the beginning of Shabbat at the wall so when the horns went on he let me go and gave me his lighter cover decorated with a Chamsa.

I think I could fill a book of the very short amount of time I spent in Jerusalem. So much happened to me. This city is magical, it does things to you.

To be continued...


Charles Lecharmant disait : "Je suis à la cage ce que le crapaud est au cigare."

"La pluie, le vent, la neige et les choux me font chavirer chaudement mais j'ai tout de même du mal à choisir entre chocolat et chamailleries chevalières telle un charlatan. La charmante mélodie si choyante que joyeuse et si attachante qu'affligeante du chamois chahuté chevauche mes songes les plus choyés. Je n'imagine point la gelée jaune gênante jasant avec la jumelle si chaude et gentille soit-elle.

Nous souviendrons-nous de ces après-midi journalières et ces jours passés à jacasser chaleureusement tout en chanson ? On se chuchotait des choses telles des chochottes jugeant non-chalamant une chèvre aux chevilles chavirantes sur une chaloupe. Une chaloupe ? Que dis-je ? Une salope, une salope alléchante et mal-lechée. Mais que signifie ce lynchage ? N'a-t-on plus l'âme charitable louche d'un chanoine dans sa cheminée ?
Mais qui nous rendra donc nos chopes des charmants jours chômés ? Chez le chapelier, Chantale faisait du chantage subjuguant. Chez le juge, Gilles et Jean jetaient leurs javelots.

Les jonquilles jaunes de Jules gisaient dans le gîte gelé. Pourtant, le gel, le sel et la pelle salissaient mes chaussures et la charte chartreuse veut que les chevaliers chevauchent leur luge enneigée.

La chaste chatte perchée sauvagement châtiée attend la jauge et le chenapan. Serions-nous devenus spectateurs de notre propre vie ? Le char est parti sans nous. Enfile ta chemise et ton châle et suis-moi, chopons le prochain, acharnons-nous. Fauchons les obstacles, chantons en chemin.

La chute ? Cela vous semble peut-être un charabia mais en vérité, mon coeur larmoie ces souvenirs à jamais choyés. Mais si je pense, ne suis-pas telle une cage abandonnée par le lion ?"

extrait de son oeuvre intégrale, page 463 paragraphe 7b

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Gilad Shalit will be coming back home after 5 years!

This new year 5772 starts beautifully as Gilad Shalit is to be freed in the next few days, announced the Israeli Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu,  just a few hours ago.
After years of negotiations, Israel and Hamas have finally found an accord to release Gilad.
"@IsraeliPM (The PM of Israel) 
We have concluded ardeous negotiations with #Hamas to release #Gilad #Shalit. He will be coming home in the next few days"
the PM tweeted.

In July, we celebrated the fifth anniversary of Gilad's abduction by the Hamas on Israeli grounds, now, he will be coming back home to his mother.

"@IsraeliPM (The PM of Israel)  
the agreement to release #Shalit was signed in initials last Thursday and today was signed formally by the two parties"

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Jaffa, bats, shopping and food.

Before leaving Tel Aviv for Jerusalem, I went to Jaffa. I didn't spend too much time there as everything was closed, I think it was Shabbat and I was leaving first thing the next morning to Jerusalem, but I still got to see many beautiful things that made me want to go back. And I did later during my trip.
I must say I really fell in love with Jaffa. When I went back there I stayed at the Old Jaffa Hostel which was great, I enjoyed their rooftop lounge with the open air kitchen, it is a really nice place.
Right across my hostel was the nicest little shop, Hasadna, where I bought many things. They do a lot of art objects with recycled materials, it's very interesting. A little further in the street, I discovered a very good restaurant where, for some strange reason, the waitress offered me a home made cookie and home made iced tea and I know I was the only customer to get that treatment. Puaa it was called, they have a french and english menu but I took the Hebrew one because I'm cool like that.
About here in the Old Jaffa, I heard weird loud squeeky sounds, so I approached the building where the sound seemed to come from. I arrive in front of an old abandoned church, the door has been replaced by bars so automatically I stick my head between them and I saw about a dozen giant bats flying around the black ceiling. A couple of minutes later I realised the ceiling wasn't actually black but covered with hundreds of giant bats, I've never seen bats that big. Go see them!!

One thing I didn't like to see in Jaffa or at Hof Iafo (Jaffa beach) was all the muslim ladies sitting in the shallow waters  all dressed, head scarves on while their sons, brothers, fathers and husbands swam the sea with a small bathing suit on. I felt warm in my summer clothes, I could not imagine how the felt! But that's another debate.

And then,...
And then I hit the road to Jerusalem. I have so much to say about Jerusalem, it deserves it's own post!

The traveler's prayer:

יְהִי רָצוֹן מִלְפָנֶיךָ ה' אֱ-לֹהֵינוּ וֵא-לֹהֵי אֲבוֹתֵינוּ, שֶתּוֹלִיכֵנוּ לְשָלוֹם וְתַצְעִידֵנוּ לְשָלוֹם. וְתִסְמְכֵנוּ לְשָלוֹם. וְתַדְרִיכֵנוּ לְשָלוֹם. וְתַגִיעֵנוּ לִמְחוֹז חֶפְצֵנוּ לְחַיִּים וּלְשִֹמְחָה וּלְשָלוֹם וְתַצִּילֵנוּ מִכַּף כָּל אוֹיֵב וְאוֹרֵב וְלִסְטִים וְחַיּוֹת רָעוֹת בַדֶּרֶךְ וּמִכָּל מִינֵי פּוּרְעָנִיּוֹת הַמִתְרַגְּשוֹת לָבוֹא לָעוֹלָם וְתִשְלַח בְּרָכָה בְּכָל מַעֲשֵֹה יָדֵינוּ, וְתִתְּנֵנוּ לְחֵן וּלְחֶסֶד וּלְרַחֲמִים בְעֵינֶיךָ וּבְעֵינֵי כָל רוֹאֵינוּ וְתִשְמַע קוֹל תַּחֲנוּנֵינוּ. כִּי אֵ-ל שוֹמֵעַ תְּפִלָּה וְתַחֲנוּן אָתָּה: בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה', שוֹמֵעַ תְּפִלָּה

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Israel, benches and hotness.

So the first day I was in Tel Aviv I met Igal who owns a luggage shop on Rehov Ben Yehuda (74). I met him because I had blisters and I had to sit down to put plasters on my feet and on the first bench I sat on, there he was. It is so weird to arrive in a country where you expect to not understand anyone and out of the blue, someone starts talking to you in your own language then of course I told him I speak a little Hebrew and he lost me in a very long discussion that was in fact a monologue.
Why was I talking about him ? Ah yes, he expanded my Hebrew vocabulary, not very much but there are at least two words I clearly remember: devek ve'misparaim, glue and scissors, the first two items I remember buying in Israel. And why did I have to urgently buy these on my first day? So I could make the object of this post: my notebook (my preciouuuuuusssss).

I must say I hated Tel Aviv at first because it was my first day in a country I didn't know all alone and I had had such a bad experience with the airport security and all that, the people in my hostel room were just the most terrible, disrespectful people there is, I was tired, etc. so of course I wasn't really objective. But I later went back to Tel Aviv and I had great experiences so I can safely say I quite like Tel Aviv. I have discovered many cultural sides of the city and I really enjoyed wandering in the streets. There are many many street artists in Tel Aviv who each have their own style and add colours to the sometimes derelict buildings and houses that you can often find in the White City.

I quite liked this artist's stencils. You will find them in the most random places!

On June 10th was the Tel Avivian gaypride parade. I still wonder how they do it to walk and dance in such heat. I don't know if it was because it was my first day and I was not used to the heat but one thing is for sure I hurried back to the coolness of the hostel living room after two hours.
The parade was all fun, I just wish I'd known a few people to enjoy it with. It's funny how when I tell some people about the Tel Aviv gaypride many of them ask me "There is a gaypride in Israel? It's the last place where I would have imagined there would be one!" they think Israel is only home of the devout.

White City?

If I'm not mistaking, this is the fountain at the center of Merkaz HaIr (Literally The City Center) which is, so I've heard, a common meeting point for Tel Avivians.

Hoping all went well if you fasted for Yom Kippur yesterday!
Have a nice day!

Saturday, 8 October 2011

And finally, as promised...

I have finally found the time  to publish parts of my travel notebook. Many of you have not seen it yet as I must admit I have not been seeing a lot of people this past summer. Anyway, I will not publish it all in one go and will certainly not publish it all because firstly there are just waaaaaay too many pages and secondly, some pages are just not worth it.

I will also add some pictures I took and I will take the time to write personally to everyone I have met and got their info during this journey.

I want to thank everyone that made this trip possible et plus particulierement ma maman who made everything possible to make it happen.

Thank you all for having followed me during these six incredible weeks, here's to you:

Thursday, 6 October 2011

More good news, Kings, women's rights, and Steve Jobs.

Last night Steve Jobs died but I couldn't care less so instead I'll write about something else.
Last week King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia announced women will have a right to vote in the 2015 local elections (not the elections that were running this week as this would be too big a shock and way too sudden, you gotta give it time so people can get used to the idea).

I read the news on the BBC on Tuesday last week and the article was just very dull and reporting facts and that's probably how the news should be reported but I read this and my mind went "wait, this is really funny in a way, they fail to mention such and such". Then I went home in Belgium and bought the weekly "Le Canard Enchaîné" which expressed my point of view in a way I couldn't have formulated better myself.

Saudi Arabia is supposedly run according to the Sharia Laws but I find it a bit hypocritical to say that since it is the only country in the World where women don't have the right to drive but guess what, cars did not exist when the Koran was written. So they say it's to be cautious blah blah blah. And I've heard the argument it is to protect women because driving is dangerous, cooking is also dangerous, I once burnt my stomach with boiling water. Apart from Saudi, all Islamic countries do allow women to drive...

So they can vote, but not drive.

But seriously, it is still a big step, women will be able to vote. That is if their male guardian will be kind enough to accompany them. Now we'll have to see if their choice is not imposed on them.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Home is where your heart is, missing planes and security checks.

I left my heart behind I think.
I'm back in Belgium. Back in rainy Belgium. It feels so weird and depressing.

I nearly missed my plane yesterday, big stress. I never stress, but there I was in the taxi, crying on the phone with my mother telling me I would probably miss it but it was no big deal if I did.
At 9.30 am I asked the receptionist  if she could book a taxi for 11.30 and she told me I had to be 3 hours in advance, it was thus waaaaay too early for me to go when my plane was at 2.50pm and I should take it at 1.30. I got really confused "wait, are you sure?" of course she was sure. at 12.30 pm I go back to see her see if she could call a taxi since my plane was at 2.50 pm "oh you need to go, now, now, arshav! I told you three hours before!!!"
The stress is slowly coming.
The taxi arrives at 12.47pm. "Is it far?" I ask. "huh? Ma?" "Is it far?" I try again, "What?", "Ze Karov?" (Is it close? - because I'd forgotten how to say far...) "Lo, ze lo karov, ze, 140 shekelim".
Right, I'm sorry but I don't work out distances with amounts of money, especially in foreign currencies in a country when I've only taken a taxi like once.
My mom calls. I cry. I stress.
1.12pm I arrive at the airport. I give the taxi driver 150 shekels "Ze besseder?" he asks. "Ken ken ze besseder" but please don't keep me waiting!!
I arrive in front of the doors. I obviously look like I'm not Israeli. I get stopped by the security lady who starts asking me tons of questions. I finally get into the airport after a bag opening "besseder, you can go".
I find the El Al queue. It looks like hours and hours of waiting. Then I find there is one advantage to not having an Israeli passport; the queue for non Israelis was empty. I get questioned by a red haired woman who looks determined to make me feel very bad."How long have you been here?" "Six weeks" I say, she looks at my bag and says "and that's all for six weeks?" looking at me like I'm some dirty bum. "erm, well, yes" (I wanted to add that you know, it is possible that I did the laundry and that it is better to travel light - even though my bag wasn't that light... but I didn't want to make her angry).
My passport changes hands, I get the same questions from other people, they take my passport away, they come back. "Come to the machine, you're late" "Yes, I'm very sorry".
They scan my luggage. "Go there" "okay okay".

I queue for about 5 minutes. "Come here". Time to open my luggage. Shit, I'd done such a good job closing it. The guy was very nice though, chit chatting, checking the bag. He forgot to see I packed a bullet in my bag and a snake moult which is illegal to have so the guy in Mitzpe Ramon told me. (FAIL).
After a very good check, *cough*, he takes me in front of everyone to the check-in counter and then to deposit my luggage and then to the hand luggage check where he leaves me. I would have kissed him. it was 1.55pm and boarding was at 2.10pm.
Fifteen minutes to scan a bag in a machine that looks like a rocket and is about 3 meters long. And a regular metal detector for people which takes about 2 seconds to pass through. But seriously, 15 minutes to scan a bag.
I got to the gate when they were just calling the passengers for boarding.


texting parents mode on: "Ani ba-matos" (I'm in the plane).

What an adventure.

Friday, 15 July 2011

So where was I?

Hello hello hello my beloved readers.

Wow, I haven't written in a long time! I am still not dead though.

In the past two weeks I have done so many things and so little at the same time! I am really enjoying myself here and I wish I could stay forever. A few days ago, I went to Mitzpe Ramon, in the Negev. I stayed in an eco-friendly campsite that has no electricity and that is in the middle of the desert! My tent had little windows at the level of my bed so every day I woke up to see the desert in the morning sunlight. No sounds around (the campsite is called the silent arrow), just rocks. I met incredible people there. I am proud to say I hiked to Makhtesh Ramon (the crater) for a few hours before going back(no I wasn't on my own, I went with Rene, a guy from Switzerland I met at the campsite). We met two coyotes or at least to animals that looked a lot like coyotes and one guy who was going down there while we were climbing back up. I am glad we didn't find snakes or scorpions though.
Anyway, I would go back anytime without hesitation!

Yesterday I went all the way back to Haifa, where I still am. It is incredible how you are in the middle of the desert and you drive just four hours to arrive in the greenest environment. Israel has so much to offer, so many different places, different climates, ... I love it!

Today I will go surfing because I am worth it. I hope I won't get attacked by I bunch of jellyfish.

Iom tov!

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Modern censorship.

Although I am far from home and on holidays, I still read the news (if I didn't I would have to reconsider my choice of studies)

Yesterday in the english version of Haaretz, they were talking about the rights on Enyd Blyton's "The Famous Five" and "The Secret Seven" that are being translated in Hebrew at the moment and to be published soon in Israel although another publisher has been publishing a translated version for many years without the rights. Fine, nothing interesting much until the end of the article when I read the books written for children, are considered sexist, racist and so on and that they were banned from the radio in England on grounds of lack of artistic talent or something, basically hey were unworthy of being read on the BBC.

The books are being rerwritten for publication in the United Kingdom to reach today's political correctness standards. And there we reach the whole debate we had with "TinTin in Congo" in Belgium a few years ago.
Do we have to alter and censor these books when in the original context and at the time they were written it was considered "alright"? In my humble opinion, the answer is no. I read these books when I was 8 or 9 and I turned out a fine citizen who treats everyone with the same respect (when it's mutual). I really don't see why we have to be all shocked all of a sudden.
Why deny what we once did? It seems we have an urge to deny everything bad we ever did as a society. A bit like in Belgium when they don't really tell you about what happened in Congo or same in France with Algeria.

So I'm thinking, doesn't the society trust the parents to teach their children good values so we have to make sure everything they read does not take them on the wrong path?
I guess it would make sense, no one is raising their children anymore ^^" but on the other hand, let's censor tv as it is more likely to teach bad values to children.

(And then we have the audacity of criticising China and arab countries that censor everything. We are no better in the end)

I wish you all a wonderful Shabbat.

Thursday, 30 June 2011

The good life.

You'll be happy to know I am not dead.

I left Jerusalem a couple of days ago to go to Nazareth where I did absolutely nothing but read, write, cook and sleep (and go buy the necessary food to cook of course). It was nice, I stayed in a convent, everybody spoke french, it was like a holiday to my very busy and active holiday.

This morning I left very early to come to Haifa, I have only been here a few hours but I love this city. It is strange to think the cities I've love the most so far have an important arab community, I don't know why though.

I have spotted a few hikes to do here so it will keep me busy tomorrow and maybe the next day I will go to the beach and rent a surfboard. FUN.

I have many tales to tell but not enough time to write about them on here but I promise to do so when I come back.

My Hebrew has improved quite a lot in the past three weeks which is normal but I'm still proud of it as I hadn't had the chance to practice in a year and I had left it aside while I was studying Arabic.

In three days I will go to Iafo before going to Rishon LeZion again. Hopefully I can write some more before then, qui vivra verra.

Have a nice day!

Oh and I forgot to announce to the world that I am pregnant I passed my year except for my Law module but that is no news. Huzzah.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Desert stories.

Erev tove le'kulam!

I got to Massada in the evening of the third day of the week (I adapted to the hebrew week, it's better) and went to bed very early as I woke up at 4am to ascent Massada and be in time for the sunrise! Man, that was painful! I thought I wasn't in shape anymore, it was only a little hike, at some point I nearly fainted because of the heat and my blood pressure getting higher from the exercising... I didn't. I got to the top, saw the sunrise, visited for a bit and went down again.
I think I deserve a medal!

The receptionist is staring at me and there is a fly attacking me. Great.

Then the same morning I left to stop at Ein Gedi where I went to the beach and floated in the Dead Sea next to a few tourists left for about 5 minutes and then decided it wasn't for me.

This morning afer a big hummus breakfast I left and went hiking in the Judean desert. I lsted 6 hours with a liter and cream. I have a shoulder burnt but let me tell you it was worth it! Oh the wonders I have seen! And the beautiful fauna! I can't believe my eyes. I wish I could do this every week!
So yeah in the end I am still a fit enough walker, just had to adapt to the heat!

Tomorrow I am going back to Jerusalem, will welcome the Shabbat at the Kotel and will eat in an orthodox family. This weekend will be Palestine weekend and the I'll be off to Nazareth on the third day of the week.

I have planned the rest of my trip more or less, I shall tell you more later.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Farewell Jerusalem.

This morning I am leaving Jerusalem to go Rishon Lezion. After I shall go to Masada and Ein Gedi to see what the nature has to offer there.

I heard the hostel in Masada have a couple of camping spots on top of the cliff and I hope they have tents to go with them because sleeping there should be awesome!

There is a 4-5 hour long hike to do in Ein Gedi in which you have to be very careful and listen for rushes of water. If you hear water, you should start climbing. That definitely on my list of things to even above swimming in the Iam HaMelach (the sea of salt aka the Dead Sea) in which, I've heard, I shouldn't bathe more than 20 minutes otherwise I will dry up.

So that is my program for the next few days.
On Friday I will be back in Jerusalem, I will have Shabbat dinner with an orthodox family, it is more or less arranged, and then on Saturday I should go to Palestine as my first attempt didn't go as planned or should I say, was an epic fail.
On Sunday, I am hesitating to stay one more night in Jerusalem, making me able to walk to the separation wall just outside Jerusalem.

After that... Ani lo yoda'at! (Idk)

Qui vivra verra (who will live will see?)

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Not according to plan.

Saba el'kheir! Boker tov!

I was going to go to Palestine this morning but my friend Zayd's car broke down so I will come back to Jerusalem after my Rishon LeZion/Dead Sea/Masada/Ein Gedi tour so we can go.

So today I have no idea what I will do, I will have to pull my travel guide out and look for a thing to do, it'll probably be the Temple Mount.

I am really looking forward to see Palestine, I think you pass by it if you're in Jerusalem. Many tourists don't go and miss out on a lot of things, be them the awesomely nice and generous people, the beautiful wonders of Palestine, or just facing the reality. My camera is ready!

Aight, I've got a long day ahead of me. Farewell!

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

O Jerusalem

Boker Tov from the Holy Land!

More tea, more nice people, some creeps,...

I am enjoying myself here, I will definitely have to come back, there is not enough of one week to see it all.
You really get used to the security checks after a while, it has become an automatism at the entrance of every big public building, public gathering areas,etc to open my bag, sometimes go through the metal detector gate, you don't notice it after a while.
On the other hand, I realised yesterday my cutter passed the thorough security check of El-Al, it was in my carrier bag, I seriously thought I had left it home but no. So much for safety... If I'd been a sociopath I would have killed the pilot or something...

Yesterday night I went back to the Kotel, there was still as many people as during the day but I found my way to the stones and delivered the prayers and messages I was entrusted with.

Today I will walk to Yad Vashem and if I have time when I come back I will do the ramparts walk.

I wish you all a pleasant day! Shalom!

Monday, 13 June 2011

O Jerusalem, I love thee!

After a bus trip from Tel Aviv, I arrived in the holiest city of all times, Jerusalem.

Now I definitely want to stay! I'm in the best hostel ever, in the old city of Jerusalem! No more Germans and Americans keeping me awake at night!

I have no words for what I have seen so far and it is far from over!
I would gladly spend a few months here and it is possible! My hostel accepts volunteers in exchange of a free bed. I will definitely consider it!

Here I get to practice both my Hebrew and Arabic, it is awesome! People keep offering me tea, yum!

I will post later!
My travel notebook is getting big, I cannot wait to share it with the world once I come back!

Friday, 10 June 2011

The trip: my first night and day

Security checks at the airport were a nightmare.
At some point I thought they wouldn't let me in the country...

I don't have much time so I'll make it short. I arrived at around 2.30 am at the hotel, checked in, went to my dorm and fell asleep after 20 minutes or so. Today I went to the beach, to the gaypride, I saw the sunset on the beach,...

I want to go back home. I feel very lonely. I am wondering if it was such a good idea to leave for 1 month... I miss my family so much.

Tomorrow I will see Yaffa.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

The trip: My first day (not) in Tel Aviv.

Wednesday June 8th.

8pm, baby-sitting my nieces un Brussels suburbia, my new name is Mr Jacques according to the little one. Time for bed, give me a big hug, tomorrow I'm leaving for a month in Israel.
read, watch tv, sleep.
11.30pm, my sister and brother in law are back, time for my mom and I to leave, I'm excited, in les than 12 hours, I'll be on the plane to Tel Aviv!! I'll land at 4.30pm, check in my hotel and then spend the evening on the beach, watch the sun go down...
12am, the phone rings *+972...* "Allo?" "Allo, Surya, ze "El-AL" "oh erm, ken" "your flight has been cancelled, you will have to take one at 8pm tomorrow"

Thursday June 9th

So I am leaving today. But at 8pm. Meaning I'll land at 1.30am, in a country I've never been to, where I know nobody, on my own. Sweet.

Just because some people in Brussels airport decided to go on strike. I hate strikes. I hate everyone (except for my mom).

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Sweet victory.

Not having the herd instinct as most humans do, I often forget to have a social life. Especially at the moment as I'm preparing this exciting yet a bit scary trip I'm about to take. So of course when an old friend from school asked if I wanted to hang out in town with another friend last night, I said okay.

At the last minute, a change of plans, which is in itself not a big deal as it was closer to the place I was then and I hadn't left already. Thing is, we had to go to an old pub opposite my old school where all these kids who think they're super cool hang out. I used to go there before they changed it, it used to be okay when I was about 15 but the thing is, only 15 year-old hypocrites, nationalist, homophobic dicks hang out there now and the concept of meeting with people my age there made me feel like they have not evolved, an they probably haven't. Worst is, I know these people's faces and sometimes there's one that recognises  you and is all like "I'm happy to see you" when clearly they aren't.

But that's not my point. The vast majority of these people didn't pay attention to me, that was a good thing. And then I saw him. He had been expelled from the school a few years back but always seemed to come back to look for trouble. He was there all nervous and looking as stupid as ever. My bully. The guy who made my life a living hell all those years. I froze for a second.
Thankfully he did not realise who I was. He then went outside and tried to start a fight. It is only when I was going to leave, I was saying goodbye to my friends outside, he realised. I heard him "discretely" talk to his friends "Hey I know her, I know her". I could feel the looks, I crossed the street, my head held high. I kept walking and heard a faint "Slut!" directed at me. I didn't look back, I walked off. It felt good, like a sweet victory.
I left him and everybody else behind me and decided never to set foot in that place ever again. It is time to fly.

Sunday, 29 May 2011

The big trip.

I don't know whether I have mentionned this in previous posts but in just a few days, I should be leaving for HaEretz HaKaddosh, the Holy Land in Hebrew, Israel. Now, you have to know I have been dreaming about this for a few years now and decided last November I would do this in June which is now coming very soon. I am the most excited girl on earth right now. I am so determined I saved a lot of money (a huuuuuuuuuuge amount) to pay for this trip.

I will be leaving on my own for a whole month, travelling by bus with my backpack. Hopefully I will be able to go to Palestine too (shhhh this is a secret) eventhough my grandma told me it was waaaaaaaaaaay too dangerous. But this is what I want to do; travel and see for myself to be able to make my own opinion.

It is one of the most important things of my life, I have never really travelled alone (except when I went to Portugal when I was 15 but I stayed at friends') and I am going there to disconnect from the rest of the World and be with myself and I. My sister is all like "you have to call me at least every two days to let us know you are fine or at least write an e-mail", I don't know if she thinks I'm rich enough to get an internet connection in the Negev desert but anyway I don't want to, I will stay away from computers as much as possible and I don't want people to be able to join me, that is the whole point of my trip and travelling alone.

I might document my trip on my blog very briefly but I will be keeping my travel notebook (which I have already started) and will scan most of it fo my blog when I return.

I really hope I can see my favourite Israeli singers in concert there and meet some of my favourite artists too, such as Gilad Benari and Ruth Selwyn.
I also hope I can attend the pride parade in TLV which should be awesome and a huuuge change to what I have seen so far!

If you have any useful addresses, contacts or tips, please, do not hesitate to send them to me or post them as a reply!
Oh, and I am also collecting prayers/words/wishes to bring to the Kotel (the Wailing Wall), don't hesitate to send them to me, I will be glad to post them!

Friday, 27 May 2011

This year's outcomes.

A disorganised rant about what I have learnt this year, what I liked or disliked, a bit of everything really.

On a general level, I must admit I have loved this academic year. I have realised, like I wrote back in September that I should have been in university all my life, instead of school where you get told the same every single day.
I absolutely love university and I realise I am very lucky to be able to afford it. And because I didn't really know what to expect coming to university abroad, I was not deceived by unmet expectations.

I have met some really awesome, interesting and inspiring people, especially Danny, the most passionate person about Journalism I have ever met and whom I will especially miss next year as he is going to China. Thanks to him, I got to work for the Lancashire Evening Post with Chris, Mike and him. It was an amazing experience.

My tutors. My tutors were the greatest. I love learning and, because I'd only experienced school, high school and similar systems, I felt like I was really learning something for once. Something new every lecture. I have found the place I want to be (for now). I think my writing has improved a lot, so has my confidence even if it is still not at its greatest yet.

Some awesome people and some jerks, like everywhere I guess. I had a few problems with an individual but he should not be a problem any more as I took care of it (no I did not go psycho on him, I went to my tutors).

On the negative side, I thought we were taught too little. I have never seen a course where you only get taught eight hours a week. It might be the way they do it in England but I used to have more than 30 hours a week on my Photography course, starting at 8 am almost every day and often on Saturdays too (when my teacher decided to show up that is). If I had known, I would have taken one or two more modules.

Do not hope to see anyone on campus before 9am or perhaps the last students in the library. 9 in the morning. That is not an hour to start the day! You can't get fresh bread before nine, how revolting for my belgian french-ish self, used to bakeries opening at six, even five am. The streets of Preston are empty before 9am. Seriously people, you start at 9 and finish at 5, sometimes before that, and eat at 6, 7 at the latest. This is no way of life.

This year I have kept my good old determination and my bad character, I am not ready to change my habits just yet, perhaps my path since I have decided to transfer from Journalism to International Journalism next year.

I also have decided to go volunteer at the community cafe on Friargate, this oughta be interesting.

Next year is going to be even better than the one that just passed by like a second.

Friday, 8 April 2011

Life sucks? Not mine.

I am sorry, this will probably take the form of a rant but people keep getting on my nerves complaining about how their life totally sucks because of this or that.

When I was eight years old, my grandma took me to India and Nepal. I was a bit worried when she packed a hundred pens I didn't understand why she wanted to take these as presents. Pens, presents? Then we got there. We travelled on the dirtiest roads to the smallest villages and all the children kept asking for pens.

When I was 14 I went to Bulgaria. Travelling to and from the hotel by car I saw desolation, girls as young as me begging or selling their bodies.

When I was 15 I went to Romania with my parents, in the only county that isn't mentionned in tourist guides. The children there played in mud and wore ragged clothes, they were the happiest children on earth when I gave them all I had on me, Kinder Eggs.

When I was 16 I went in Zambia to teach in a small school. I packed so many pens, clothes, medications, so many things to give. The children there sometimes walked three hours barefeet in the sun just to get to school. We did it one day, it took us one hour, let me tell you we felt the pain. These children were fantastic and the most clever children I had ever met.

And you don't even have to travel to see it. People are living under bridges in Brussels (my hometown), in Paris, everywhere, I have seen them too.

I haven't seen it all (yet) but I have seen a lot. I know I might not be the luckiest girl on the planet but I surely am very comfortable and think it's safe to say I live above the average quality of life than most of the population without being rich or anything. I am lucky and thankful for all the things I have.

In my life (and it is not very long so far), I have learnt a simple pen can bring happiness, a simple smile can make someone's day

People who complain because they have last year's Blackbery and now the new one is out and they look "so lame" now, I can only be angry at them. Angry because it is right in front of their nose yet they do not see it. They don't have the new [insert brand] collection, they're so out and their life totally sucks. Some people don't even have clothes to wear. That 13 year-old Team Edward fan didn't get the latest Apple gadget from her parents for her birthday, her life is ruined. Some people don't even have access to a computer, or even electricity.

me me me, consume consume consume, buy buy buy, waste waste waste.

You are allowed to complain, everyone does, it's human nature, but please don't say your life sucks, it doesn't. If you are reading this, you are luckier than 75% of the world's population who doesn't have access to the internet.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Gilad Benari.

Vous connaissez?

Aujourd'hui je vous présente Gilad Benari, photographe Israélien né à Haifa, très respecté par la communauté DeviantArt où il met régulièrement sa galerie à jour.

Après une carrière dans le marketing (carrière qu'il a toujours d'ailleurs), il se trouve une passion pour l'écriture. En 2002, à la naissance de son fils Yotam, il décide de s'acheter un Olympus c40 pour la documenter, l'appareil qui va changer sa vie. C'est à ce moment là qu'il découvre sa passion pour la photographie. Au début, il illustrait ses écrits par la photo, puis peu à peu, ses clichés sont devenus populaires, il a commencé à pratiquer la photographie en tant que telle, il n'a cependant pas arrêté d'écrire pour autant. En 2003 il décroche sa première expo qui fût un succès (couverture des médias, excellentes critiques). C'est à ce moment là qu'il s'est promis que dix ans plus tard il ne vivrait que de son art car jusqu'à présent il a continué sa carrière pour être sûr. Reste à voir si dans deux ans, il va lacher le marketing.

Il est inspiré par tout ce qui est abstrait et touche un peu à tout dans le domaine de la photo. Il a beaucoup travaillé l'infrarouge avec les arbres et est plus connu pour sa série "A Different Look at Israel", une série qui comme son titre l'indique, donne un autre regard sur Israel, un regard pour essayer de casser les préjugés qu'on pourrait avoir sur les Terres Saintes.

"Israel suffers an Image of being a desert land, or simply a war zone, when showing it all over the world news. Being a photographer and a writer, I have a chance to show otherwise."

On le surprend aussi à photographier les petites choses simples de la vie et à en faire des oeuvres magniques, c'est un peu comme a fait Ponge avec son Parti pris des choses mais avec des clichés hauts en couleurs.

"I think as my self as a copywriter with a camera."

Gilad Benari croit surtout en la spontanéité. Il sort de chez lui avec son matériel sur le dos en ne sachant pas avec quels clichés il reviendra.

Plus d'infos:
Sa galerie DeviantArt
Sa galerie flickr

Friday, 25 March 2011


Today I am sad. Just like when they decided they would introduce new spelling rules in French (because people can't spell properly anymore, we had to adapt the language to their -very low- level of language).

Today, the Oxford English Dictionary has added LOL, OMG and FYI to the vocabulary. It is a sad, sad day.

@DeathStarPR LOL, OMG and FYI have been added to the Oxford English Dictionary. Somewhere in 1596, Shakespeare begins to weep inexplicably.

@Stewie_Griffinn The Oxford English Dictionary has added OMG, LOL, and FYI to their dictionary, In other news ''LMAO'' is pissed off LOL.

While little 13-year-old ignorants will be thrilled their teachers won't be able to correct their papers, the language is dying.