Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Airplanes and Hostels Part 2

New time zone, new language, new culture - this wasn't going to be easy. I eagerly awaited my friend's arrival.

My first full day in Tel Aviv was spent at a soup kitchen. Around 70 down and out people looked to be fed every Thursday. The menu - bean soup, potato salad, rice with peas and carrots, spaghetti and chicken schnitzel. Even though Deb, the fearless leader of production had some of the preparation done before Trish and I arrived, we were put to work peeling and chopping and peeling and chopping. I cried. Onions! Lots of onions.
Deb asked if I would like to do something else. In glee I cried, "yes!" Silly me.
She entrusted to me the job of making chicken schnitzel. No ripping open bags of frozen meat slabs here. This was the real deal. Her real deal. She made the best schnitzel according to everyone there and she felt I was ready to receive the honor of grand poobah schnitzel maker. Frankly I think it was that no one else wanted the job and I was so new and fresh and...naive.
She showed me how she wanted it done. Okay, that didn't look too complicated. Dip a thin chicken cutlet into flour, seasoned  beaten eggs, and then breadcrumbs. She watched me as I did the first one. Not bad but... she showed me how to press the breadcrumbs on the meat. It had to be just right. I guess that's why her schnitzel was considered the best. She'd watch me out of the corner of her eye and run over every once in a while, and in Hebrew remind me how it was done. And then I became proficient. Large industrial pan after pan - I laid those golden gems in rows. I was hot, my arms and back ached. So that's how it feels to run that last Olympic lap for the gold. Deb pronounced them good. They were ready for the fryer and I walked away... to prepare for serving.

By 7pm that evening I was exhausted. I couldn't wait to get back to my hard bed in the funky little hostel and crash. And I did...until around 10 when again my body said, "thanks for the nice nap - I needed that". Awake again. And the city of Tel Aviv pulsated to the beat of loud music, car horns, buses and obstreperous, drunk people.
No, I couldn't live like this for a month. I had to do something. Soon.
The next day, armed with around 4 hours of sleep, I thanked Trish for setting me up with my room in the hostel, but asked her if something else could be arranged. Actually, I begged her.
Her initial response was to remind me that we were in Israel. Accommodations were at a premium and very expensive and she didn't think anything could be done. And besides, it was Friday and business closed down around 3pm to begin preparing for the Sabbath. But she would ask her landlord if there was, by any remote chance, an apartment available for a month in my budget. And all of the collective earthly consciousness, in one accord, laughed!

Next time on Airplanes and Hostels:
Does G~d really give a rip?

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