Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Beautiful South

It was Daniella's idea to go hang out at the dives near the central bus depot, where the work immigrants drink. She even picked a Friday afternoon, the one of the latest earthquake. I ended up not being able to join her and I'm not sure she went, or you would have read about it on her fun blog

A few nights ago, however, I was sitting at the Little Prince with friends Shtulki and Flashki (this is how I call them, you'll have to cope). On the table before us was a book entitled "250 things to do in Tel-Aviv at night", published by Time Out. Oner of the suggestions was: "Hang out with work immigrants".

This sounded good to all three of us, which is no small thing. The bus depot area is not really that inviting at night. It is a derelict third world slum and the hub of prostitusion and petty crime in the city. In fact, it's not even very pleasant during the day. I'm writing these words from an internet cafe at this exact neighborhood, having paused here for a quick post on the way to an event in Holon. You can be sure I wash my hands properly after handling this sticky keyboard.

That night, however, the neighborhood recieved us just beautifully. There aren't real bars here, what they do is place plastic tables outside convenience stores that offer cheap beer (Baltika 9 = 8% alcohol content, Bavaria 8.6 = 6% alcohol content) The one we picked turned out to be populated with a mixture of Palestinians, Nigerians, old Romanians and Latin Americans.

It's the latter group that took advantage of Shtulki's guitar. Jorge, an Equadorian with a stylish wide rimmed hat and a Bolivian scarf, picked it up for what sounded like a well thought up tribute to my previous post. he played "Todo Cambia", a Nueva Cancion classic, then a Mexican medly featuring "Que Nadie Sepa mi Sufrir" and "Besame Mucho". Later I picked up the strings for "Razon de vivir":

So as to advance towards the unknown,
While the heart keeps beating in the fog,
So as to mix joy with sobriety,
to be with you and not to lose the longing,
Ahhh! Fogata De amor y Guia
Razon de vivir mi vida.

On the old, tiny television screen, Arsenal were playing Milan. My downtown lover, a football fiend, asked to be updated as to the score. When her dinner engagement was over she arrived at the dead of the twilight zone, emerging from a cab between the dark chateaux of beat concrete. I don't know many girls who would make so smoothly the transition from Sheinkin's cloth tablecloths to Neve sha'anan's beercan jungle, but here's a profound urbanite. What she didn't expect was to be quickly espoused to me by the happy bunch ("You should bring your wife here more often!")

Arsenal and Milan tied at 0. When the whistle sounded We were already away, moving towards another nighthole and knowing that we're also perpetually on the move forward towards the next intense experience of Tel-Aviv. There are far more than 250 things to do in this city at night. I'll be happy to sacrifice more mornings for a spontaneous Besame Mucho, or Waltzing Mathilda, or Biladi Biladi, whatever's in order.

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