Friday, December 25, 2009

Great-grandmother's Politician

Groundbreaking - Left to Right : Joe Forbes

One of my great-grandmother's grandsons, Joseph Goldfarb Forbes (Joe Forbes for short) was mayor of the city of Oak Park (1967-1970) and member of Michigan State House of Represantatives (1971-1984) . He was born in Detroit, son to David and Yetta Goldfarb, the fourth of their seven children. He resided in West Bloomfield where he was known for his friendly behaviour and affection for people. He died on December 2004, at the age of 88. May his soul rest in peace!

Several years ago, I embarked on an internet genealogical quest intended mainly as a tribute to my mother's memory, in an attempt to track her father's family saga. She had been very fond of her father (Hersh Goldfarb) and she kept telling me the story about his widow mother, his three brothers and three sisters who had emmigrated to America, leaving him behind as his wife was against departing from Romania. Sort of mini tragedy. Sometimes I think that the fact that I've never visited the USA and feel no urge to do so, has its roots in this story of hers. It is as if in my subconcious I resent the place that has 'robbed' my grandfather of his initial family.

The first of my great-grandmother's descendants I contacted after finding information through the internet, were a nurse from Cincinnati and a restaurant owner from Los Angeles. These people were fourth generation like me , so they knew little (the nurse) or almost nothing (the restaurant owner) about great-grandmother (first generation), her children(second generation) and grandchildren (third generation).

And then I came upon the name of Joe Forbes. He was a public figure, so I thought I would find some biography with information on his parents and siblings which could also lead me to the others. Well, I found no such thing. In those days people were humble ,not like today when the biography gets written on the first month of their public job. I did ,however , find in local newspapers, his obituary and also an eulogy on his service and integrity as a man and legislator.

Obituaries in Genealogy are of the utmost importance. It was from the obituary that I learnt about his three daughters. One of them who lives in Aghoura Hills , California, kindly emailed me some pictures and additional information on her father and his family.

Joseph Goldfarb Forbes was considered a key leader in the Legislature of Michigan. He was elected as the Democrat majority floor leader for five consecutive terms. One of his successors said that in order to survive as a floor leader (whose job is to run the floor debate) one needs a sense of humour and "Joe Forbes possessed humour in abundance". (Im sure of that. All those on my mother's family side had terrific humour that helped them overcome hard times).

Saturday, December 19, 2009



I had in my right pocket a slip of paper with the name and address of a nice german woman from Dachau whom I had met on a tour in Greece. I thought I would perhaps go look for her after visiting the infamous concentration camp. Well, I didn't. I couldn't. I was in no mood to walk around or talk to any inhabitant of the city. I wanted to leave the place that had witnessed unimaginable horrors, as quick as possible.

[I am reminded of my visit to Dachau by the recent news regarding the theft of the iron inscription at the entrance of Auschwitz death camp: 'Arbeit macht frei' (Work sets you free or Work brings freedom).
The Dachau camp had a similar iron inscription at its entrance] .

The concentration camp was built by prisoners on the grounds of an abandoned gun powder factory outside the city in 1933. It was the first concentration camp and it served as a model for the other Nazi camps that followed. It had two main parts: barracks and a crematorium . Almost 30,000 prisoners are believed to have died in the camp and its subcamps.

No way people living in Dachau at that time didn't hear or see anything about the atrocities (slavery work, tortures, medical experiments, inhumane living conditions, extermination) that went on at the camp located east of their clean, peaceful town. More likely they ignored both the rumours and the visible facts.

Nowadays, europeans and germans in particular, claim in private conversations, that they feel they are being punished for what they 've done to the jews. Foreigners from third world countries, they say, have 'invaded' Europe, destroy its culture, traditions, landscapes - and the locals feel helpless about it.

Helpless? Well, they''ll probably come up with something (evil), they'll invent something nobody has ever thought of (like gas chambers), they'll find a (final) solution. History, I'm afraid, has the tendency of repeating itself.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Memories from the Lake of Tekir

I'm following a blog of a geography teacher (Viorel Irascu at; one of his lasts posts focused on the lake of Techirghiol which is only three (3) kilometers away from the Black Sea. This post brought back to me memories of a traumatic and yet wonderful visit with my mother to the lake .

Techirghiol has its name in a legend: A crippled man of turkish origin, Tekir, and his donkey, arrived at the shore of the lake ( 'ghiol' in turkish) by mistake. Trying to get his stubborn animal out of the mud within the lake, Tekir noticed with astonishment that his own legs felt stronger , he could walk normally, and that the wounds on the back of his donkey got miraculously
healed. Since then, the lake became famous for its healing properties. Tekir and his donkey are featured in a statue located in the center of the town.

I was a schoolgirl ( elementary school) on summer vacation. My mother who had been recommended mud treatment at Techirghiol, decided to take me with her. It was a very long trip from our hometown in the north-east extremity of Romania to the lake area in the south-east extremity of the country. We had to change trains, and it so happened that we lost a small suitcase that contained all my belongings. I arrived at the resort with nothing but what was on me. Big trauma .

Despite the traumatic beginning, the trip was a wonderful experience for me.
Like Tekir and his donkey, I was mad for the mud and liked to be smeared with it all over face and body. At the pension where we were staying, we met a young couple, freshly married. This couple became fond of me at first sight, and asked my mother's permission to allow them to take care of me with the mud and the dipping in the lake while she was having treatment at the spa-complex.

The young couple also took me to the Black Sea beach and to the various attractions in the region. They bought me things, taught me things, and opened a new horizon for the small provincial girl. Looking back, I think they were 'practising' on me parenthood as well as their professions: teaching (she was a teacher) and welfare work (he was a social worker).

In the evenings, I noticed my Mom
being engaged in long talks with the young woman. On approaching them, they became silent. It was only when we were back home that Mom revealed the secret; the young woman was born in our hometown, fruit of an extra marital relationship. At a certain stage, she and her mother had to leave town and go as far away as possible from "the scene of the crime". Small World.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Sports and Women in Strawberry Land

1. 'Sharapova is in town' - reported the local media on February last year. The russian born , blonde tennis player Maria Sharapova (currently living in USA), number 5 in the world classament , made her glamorous appearance at the tennis stadium of my hometown as leader of Russia's Fed Cup Team against Israel. The stadium which hosts international and national tennis tournaments was built in 1975 on a patch of strawberry land. (Strawberries are the icon/visit card of the town which was in its beginning a rural place with vast strawberry fields. Click on the above Wikipedia picture to get an idea of the stadium).

There was a lot of emotion involved. The first match out of two, was to be held on Saturday and that made the religious circles very angry. These circles protested and also prophesized that profanation of the holy day of Sabbath will assure defeat of the israeli team. Well, defeat it was.

The stadium was packed with thousands of male tennis fans who were quite rude towards the diva. They shouted at her sexist remarks , and imitated her screaming everytime she hit the ball. When interviewed , she said that this kind of crowd behavior drives her to play better, and leads her to victory.

On Sunday, at the end of the decisive match, when the two finalists shook hands, people overheard Sharapova telling the defeated israeli player, Shachar Peer: 'You deserved it' . Apparently she said that in revenge for something that had happened on a previos match . Not very nice and not very sporting, coming from someone at the top of the tennis world like Sharapova.

2. My home town has a successful women basketball team with a woman coach that is an interesting and tough 'strawberry' herself . The initial name of the team was Lachen , the next Anda, and the present name Electra. There is a story behind the change of names and it's called Sponsorship.

A certain millionaire whose young wife , Anda, had died of cancer wanted to immortalize her fighting against the disease. He thought that the fighting spirit of the Lachen women basketball team would do nicely, so he offered sponsorship on the condition that the team bears the name of his beloved wife .
A few years later, the millionaire remarried , the sponsorship ended, and the team adopted a new name, that of the new sponsor Electra, consummer goods company.

I know very little about sports or sponsorship, but I felt something was wrong here.
Life goes on, the husband gets a new wife, the team gets a new sponsor, but what about the memory of the deceased woman whose name has been removed from the team? There's probably some answer , I just don't know what it is.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Feng Shui and the Flow of Chi

lucky bamboo

The world is insecure, full of conflicts and negativity; so people are looking for security, warmth and harmony inside their homes.

Feng Shui - theory based on the unobstructed flow of energy (Chi) - is a way of arranging and decorating one's home to create a balanced and harmonious environment that will provide positive energies and attract Health, Wealth, Luck and Love to the house.

Personally, I tend to adopt those principles of Feng Shui that are simple to follow, available, reasonable and not costly, such as: daily opening of windows to let fresh air come in, adequate light, display of live plants and fruit in the rooms, no TV or computer in the bedroom, prevention of clutter in the house, smart use of colours and mirrors, special attention to the main door through which, according to this chinese theory, Energy (Chi) enters the house.

Change in wall structure and furniture to improve flow of Chi in the house or appartment - could be quite expensive, and the result not always satisfactory.

My favourite Feng Shui item is the gracious Lucky Bamboo plant. Among the many other plants which symbolize life and growth, this one is considered the bringer of luck and fortune into the house. It requires water once a week, preferably distilled water , as tap water makes it ill - it becomes yellow and thus emanates bad energy and has to be removed.

I like the Feng Shui idea of placing a bowl of fruit, citrus mainly, in a strategic position such as near the entrance, to attract abundance and prosperity to the house. One must , however, constantly replace the fruit with fresh ones and not let it get rotten in which case it will result in bad smell and bad energy.

Many people will object to the Feng Shui 'demand' of no computer and no TV in the bedroom, but bedrooms are not meant for work or watching TV stupidities; bedrooms are meant for sleep and love.

Choosing of colors is not a light matter , at least not for me. I usually like bright colours like white, off- white, pale yellow . Feng Shui suggests , for example, painting the kitchen in yellow or orange , and the main door in red. However, the bottom line regarding colours and lights, is - whatever stands in harmony with the rest of the house, and makes one feel good.

Saturday, November 21, 2009


My computer has been giving me a hard time lately. It is six years old, and completely exhausted . I'm proud that during these years it didn't require any technician work; I was the only one to touch its inside when opening the case to clean the ventilators and throw a loving look at the Motherboard. There were problems with it now and then, but I managed to solve them with whatever little knowledge I have on computers.

Only once did I need the intervention of an outside factor. Two years ago, the computer got attacked by malware. It was a shocking, frightful experience; it looked as if some kind of monster
within the box was trying to torture me by interfering with my work in various nasty ways. In fact, I couldn't do any work.

It started with the sudden appearance of a big blue Microsoft ad in the middle of the screen offering an anti virus program. Luckily, I understood right away that it was not Microsoft but some dangerous, invasive agent, and so I didn't get tempted to install the program. After a few unsuccessful trials to deal with the situation, I phoned Microsoft technical support and they promptly emailed me an anti malware software. It helped, of course, but it took me several days to make sure everything was under control.

The whole thing scared me so much that I tried to forget all about it. When the attack was on I took a shot of the ad but apparently didn't care to save it.
Anyway, that's all behind me now, and I'm looking forward to get a new computer, hopefully by the end of next week. In the meantime, things are not easily done and certain things (slideshows, for instance) will have to wait .

Thursday, November 12, 2009


I'm a great believer in the marvelous, free source of energy, the Sun; solar energy, solar power, solar cooking, solar heating - all these terms just "turn me on".

I remember holding in my hands a little book named "How to live without electricity - and like it" by Anita Evanghelista. I said to myself : with such a title and with such an author's name , the book must be interesting. It was. Especially the chapter which deals with solar cooking. The author mentions there cooking a casserole. Casserole? It took me nearly an hour to boil some water for a cup of coffee. But the blame is on me - lack of practice in handling the solar cooking device and also the fact that I had to wear heavy-duty sunglasses (according to the instructions in the book) which is not exactly something I'm used to in my conventional cooking.

And then there was this other litttle book "547 ways to be fuel smart" by Roger Albright. Again, I said to myself : such a precision, not 500 and not 600 but 547 - there must be something in this book. There was. I learnt from it , among other things, that the simple, primitive device known as the clothesline on which I hang out my clothes , is in fact a solar dryer, and I happen to agree with the author "it works like a charm ..." and saves money. Wow! I was using a solar dryer and I didn't even know that!

But the book that got me daydreaming ( on the possibility of living in a solar house), was "The solar home" by Mark Freeman. On the back cover of this book, a smashing pair of sentences caught my eye. Listen to this: "Baking really good bread is difficult. Building a house is easy". I totally agree with the first sentence, but as to the second one, if it's easy to build a house how come he wrote a whole book on that?!!

(Honestly, the above three mentioned books are good books on the solar subject as opposed to a fourth book which I won't even mention its title and name of author. This book had great publicity and I was extremely dissappointed by it).

Although Israel , where I live, is a country with sunny days most of the year, the only significant use of the sun's energy is displayed in the water heaters that cover roof-tops all over the country.

I've always been fascinated by the work of these south-facing water heaters. The unit consists of a water storage tank, and two flat panels that absorb solar radiation, and heat the water in the tank. Even in winter, if there are sunny days, there'll be hot water in the storage tank, and from there, through insulated pipes, in the bathroom and kitchen taps. It saves a lot of money on the electricity bill. and a good heating system can last as much as twenty years.

There are three main models of solar heating systems (enlarge attached pictures) : a vertical tank with two panels (collectors), a vertical tank with only one( big ) panel, and the latest model: an horizontal tank with one panel. In my non-expert opinion, the oldest model is the most efficient one; besides, if one panel happens to get damaged, you can carry on for a while with the remaining one and still get hot water . The other two models evolved out of esthetic considerations.

(On solar gadgets, and on my tiny collection of solar items in slideshow format - in another post).

vertical tank with one panel; vertical tank with two panels

horizontal tank with solar panel

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Turkish "Delight"

potatoes on the israeli market.

still in use in some turkish markets

Turkey , as far as I know, is the largest producer of potatoes in the Middle East. I like the texture of those smooth reddish potatoes imported from Turkey.
I eat them mainly as mashed potatoes accompanied by cheese ,meat, or fish.

Lately, the relationship between Turkey and Israel has developed into something ugly ; israelis have reported meeting with great hostility in many parts of Turkey. One of the Turks' favorite "greetings" is to spit on the israeli tourist. As a result of this atmosphere, and of some political issues between the two countries, there are voices calling for a boycott on turkish products. A neighbour of mine is rather 'active' in this initiative.

Last month, she "caught" me at the supermarket with turkish potatoes in my basket and criticized me for that. I said : " Look, I don't drink turkish coffee, I don't buy turkish lokum (also known as turkish delight), I don't eat turkish kebab or lachmajun, I don't even intend to visit Turkey ,although I could if I wish , go as a non israeli (I own also a romanian passport); Isn't that good enough for you? I won't give up the potatoes. Period".

I'm not much in favor of boycotts, but those here who want an efficient boycott, should , I think, concentrate on the touristic issue. All year long, israelis 'invade' Turkey, and so, nicely contribute to its economy. One of the most popular regions favored by the israelis is Antalya , known as the 'Turkish Riviera"; this resort offers lots of attractions at very reasonable prices.

Soon after the incident at the supermarket, I met my neighbor's son, a fresh computer science graduate, and asked for his expert advice on buying a new computer. "Can it wait a week" he asked me "I'll be back by then from Antalya and we shall discuss this matter at length" "Antalya?! Does your mother know where you're flying to ?" " She bought me the tickets as a graduation present" was his reply.

How about that?!!

Antalya - beach

on the way - in Antalya

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Man on the Train

'Ayalon' bridge - to the central railway station in Tel Aviv

Waiting on the train platforms

I like to travel by train. The wide windows bring you scenic spots along the route; on a train you have a comfy seat, enough room to stretch legs ; you can go to the vestibule to take a fresh breath, and you can meet unexpected people.

I got on the train Tel Aviv - Haifa. Someone sitting on the opposite bench stared intensely at me and this made me feel very uncomfortable. He sensed that , and finally opened his mouth:
" I saw you on the platform waiting for the train and heard someone calling you Duta, so I decided to follow you. You probably don't recognize me as I'm very much changed physically , but I was one of your brother's best friends."

He gave me the details . I was familiar with the name ; it brought back to me unpleasant memories of a young successful man guilty of the sin of Pride. I was surprised to see him on a train as I knew he was a very rich guy who had a personal car driver and even owned a private light plane. Well, not any more. He told me his story.

The troubles in his life began with his only son falling into drugs. To buy the stuff, his son used to steal money and jewelery not only from his parents but also from neighbors , relatives, and friends. Next, he joined a gang whose specialty was breaking into houses and empty them.

The man's wife got into depression and never recovered from it. After her untimely death, he ceased to function and lost almost everything he had. Luckily, he met the woman who was to become his second wife, a naturopath by profession, and by using the naturopathic approach , she gradually put him back on track.

''The other night" the man said " I had a weird dream. Your brother was chasing me with a stick . This running and chasing thing happened a lot in our childhood games, but such a dream just before meeting his sister on a train - this must have a meaning, maybe more than one. I know , I deserve to be beatten. I was vain, turned my back on my friends including your brother, departed from my authentic roots . Perhaps
this dream was also a warning of your brother saying stay away from my sister, you're Trouble."

I told him that in my opinion both his interpretations of the dream are correct. We pay for our vanity , and my brother, may his soul rest in peace, wanted to spare me the treachery of friendship.

When we got off the train I realized he hadn' t said a word on the whereabouts of his son. I was afraid to ask, and I wanted us to part on a positive note.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Children's Memorial and the Missing Girl

the garden

It attracts like magnet, and doesn't let go of you. It's a superb piece of outdoor art erected in
memory of children killed in accidents. This memorial consists of two children (a girl and a boy) made of bronze, and behind them a plaque which bears an inscription that reads: "Your Life Revenges our Deaths."

The set of statues and the background plaque are located in a quiet corner of a small garden with young trees , paved lanes, and a few benches. This garden, near the comercial center of my hometown , was planted in memory of the children who perished in the Hollocaust . It is placed in a compact area which includes a bank and the local police station, and is accessed by some stairs leading down to it.

Some time ago, approaching the memorial, I saw a little weeping girl about four years old near the statues . "They don't want to play with me" she said pointing at the two bronze children. It appeared that the girl had sneaked out of the Bank while her mother was standing in line to the teller; the security man at the door was probably busy checking bags and didn't notice her escape.

That's how tragic things happen: a tiny girl facing alone a busy road and then entering a deserted garden.

I took the girl back to the Bank ; the mother was not there. Apparently she went to the nearby police station to ask the cops help her find the missing child; the bank security man immediately phoned the police to report that the girl is back safe and sound.

The mother appeared accompanied by a police officer who was surprisingly formal. He wanted us (mother, girl, security man and me ) at the police station. After finishing with our questioning and the paper work , he told the mother to take her girl , go to the garden , have a good, long look at the children's memorial - she might learn something.

The girl was happy - her Mom will sure find a way to make the bronze children play with her.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Law Lesson in the Ma'afia

It's not what you think. It's Ma'afia ( מאפייה) not Mafia.

I had to sue my employer for not paying me certain expenses and benefits . I decided not to take a lawyer to represent me as I distrust lawyers as much as I distrust politicians. So I sat down with the book to see what the law has to say in my case , and browsed through law forums on the Web to pick up some tips and tricks. I knew I had to be very good to beat the rotten system and get my money , so I checked very carefully the preliminary correspondence with the court and the lawyer of the adverse party. God opened my eyes and made me notice something which seemed like a gross mistake on the part of the lawyer or an attempt to mislead the judge.

I needed to be reassured of the value of my finding , so I turned to a young law student who worked part time in the local Ma'afia (hebrew word for bakery) where I buy my pita bread, and asked for his opinion. Brilliant, he said, we are going to tear him to pieces. We ?! Yes. The student offered his free services as 'producer' and 'director' of what was supposed to be my show in the court.

According to him, the danger was that the sleek lawyer will throw at me some provocative, offensive word , make me weep, and this will ruin the whole thing. That must not happen. I have to be in control of the situation from the very beginning. I have to be a ruthless attacker. He instructed me to rehearse in front of the mirror and then, a few days before the trial we rehearsed in the backyard of the Ma'afia, with him playing the part of the lawyer I was supposed to"kill". He was full of excitement and I was worried to death.

On the day of the trial, I was tense; the lawyer representing the employer seemed very full of himself and confident in his abilities. He didn't take even a single look at me. I was nothing to him. I didn't exist. This was a good beginning for me. I hate arrogant people, and ignoring me is a red curtain in front of the bull. So I started the attack. I approached the lawyer, looked straight into his eyes and asked with the right intonation where was it that he got his diploma as it appeared he didn't know the very basics of his profession. And then turned to the judge not asking, but claiming that this fellow, the lawyer, attempted to mislead the court by submitting distorted facts.

To make a long story short, I won the case.

A week latter, the student phoned me to ask for a favour -he wanted me to arrange a date for him with a certain girl he had seen me talking to. I hardly knew the girl; she was some distant relative of my cousin's sister in law. He insisted: You'll find a way, he said . I must meet her. Oho, love at first sight?! No, at second, he replied. "I've just learnt that her grandfather owns half of all the ma'afiot (bakeries) in the country".

Bastard. Cute bastard.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Murder Weapon

I like to walk and jog in a certain alley in my neighborhood. It's a narrow, non paved alley bordered by ancient, majestic trees. I like to stamp on the soft soil ( we have few rains and only in winter, so no mud most of the year); the tall trees make one feel a little dot in the universe and at the same time give a feeling of protection and security.

Sometimes, a retired gym teacher living nearby, trains her dog in this alley and once , something very unpleasant happened to me: the dog knocked me down while running to fetch a ball thrown by her in his direction. The woman panicked, dragged me into her house, cleaned my scratches, put some ointment, made me a cup of tea, hugged me. It was a miracle that I fell on my knees and not on my head ."You know how to fall" she said to me trying to cheer me up. Very funny. I told her she had to stop training the dog in the alley; it puts the occasional passers by in danger.

After the incident, she and her dog vanished from the alley for several months. When I saw her again , the other day, before I could even say Hello she asked me to come into her house promising to show me something very important that she didn't have the chance to show me at the time of my fall incident. It was a bundle consisting of two letters, a card and some newspapers. The letters were letters of Thanks and Appreciation for helping solve a crime- one leter was from the Mayor of the City, the other from the Chief of the Police Headquarters; the Thank You' card ,was originally attached to a bouquet of flowers that had been sent to her by the parents of the victim; the newspapers - local and national , related the story in detail ( I wouldn't have recognized her by the blurry picture in the newspapers).

And this is the story ( which at the time was very much on my mind) : Last year, a young female lawyer, mother of two small children was stabbed to death on the treshold of her house; the children were in the dining room eating supper and didn't catch sight of the murderer. The big question was, why would a woman with two small children in the house, open the door to a complete stranger. I suppose she looked through the door electronic eye, saw the innocent face of a teenager, and that made her open the door without any fear.

That's right; the murderer was a 16 year old high school pupil with no criminal or psychiatric record and no motive. It was a complete surprise for the Police which was busy investigating the lawyer's clients, the ex- husband and the possibility of some romantic connections. Well, this is where our retired gym teacher and her obedient dog came in. She found the murder weapon - a knife with traces of blood on it. It was the dog's wild barking near a deserted trash bin in a bush not far from her house that drew her to the spot. She lifted the lid , saw a red- stained knife , and went to call the Police. She actually did the job for them; without the murder weapon they would probably never have solved the crime as they were completely in the wrong direction.

Quite a woman! I only hope that by inviting me in to see the stuff, she just wanted to show off and not convey some indirect message that with her 'heroic background' she's the Queen of the alley and will do whatever she pleases there , including dog training.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Lara and Zara embracing Adagio

A few days ago, Phillip, a fellow blogger and british gentleman (Chronicle of a Croydon Boy} wrote an enthusiastic post about the belgian singer Lara Fabian, in which he expressed his love and admiration for the way she performed the song 'Caruso'.

Well, I had noticed her long before Phillip . It was after watching some videos with her performance of the song based on 'Adagio' by Tomaso Albinoni.

'Adagio' is a well known , fine classical piece of music. Dramatic lyrics have been attached to it to enable also vocalists to perform this gem. If you look it up in YouTube you'll see that italian young singers got hold of it and won't let it go. They appear with it in some sort of talent TV contest named "Amici di Maria de Filippi (friends of Maria....) , with a jury and an audience which consists of young people, friends of the contestants.

Watching the young singers on "
Amici ...." perform 'Adagio' can be frustrating; their voice is not ripe enough to handle such an intricate musical piece , and they lack confidence on the stage .
( Very nice try , though, of the finalists of the italian talent TV show Amici of recent years: Rita Comisi, Giulia Ottonello, Nicola Gargaglia ..).

....And then I came upon Lara Fabian. The way she sings and moves in all her live appearances, is hypnotizing. She's got it all: a great voice, a beautiful face, a perfect body, and.. plenty of talent. She's multilingual (french, italian, english) and is considered Star in Europe. There's also Zara, a singer of russian descent - good voice , gracious figure , nice performance. Still , Lara is the Best.

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Siberian Chihuahua

What an adorable little creature in the hands of the young girl! It's a siberian chihuahua. According to the girl's story, it was brought to her by her uncle directly from Siberia and is considered the best breed .

[ Oh Siberia, that's a place! By the way, I read the other day an interview with Miss Siberia in the Softpedia. The interviewer concludes his article with a compliment to the Beauty Queen: "She's refreshing like ice and hot as hell", he writes. Well, one could say about Siberia "....refreshing like ice and cold as hell". Not that I was there personally; it's general knowledge. I wish I could visit the place someday in the future, especially for Lake Baikal, the oldest , the deepest, the clearest of the lakes in the world - a miracle of Nature , subject of poets, artists, musicians and scientists].

At my request, the girl handed over the tiny, smooth Chih to me to keep it in my arms for a while; it was quiet, even indifferent, and that surprised me a little as I knew the chihuahuas were very temperamental and also jealous when their owner talked to a stranger. It appears that it has been undergoing daily gentle , but firm training to prevent bad behaviour such as : barking at people, jumping on people & furniture, racing from room to room, urinating on the rug , etc.. The chihuahuas tend to be dominant , so the earlier training begins, the better.

Anyway, it was sheer pleasure to hold it in my arms and caress its velvety skin.

I suppose with proper training the Chih makes a wonderful pet: sweet, friendly and very loyal. I would sure like to own a Chih that looks like the one in the picture , but I'll probably have to find myself first an uncle with siberian connections.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Mozart and the chocolate connection

Mozart's square which hosts Mozart's Memorial & Birth Place

Two weeks ago, I was given a box of Mozart chocolate balls
( Mozartkugeln) for the holidays. The original manufacture of this kind of chocolate balls named after the divinely gifted composer , was in Salzburg, Austria. And so, holding the sweet gift in my hands, my thoughts fled for a few minutes to other 'goodies' : Salzburg, Mozart, and The Sound of Music.

Salzburg (literally meaning salt castle) is a lovely city on the banks of the Salznach river. It has green hills, romantic gardens and charming alleys. Its old city , the Altstadt, with towers and churches in baroque architecture style was nominated World Heritage Site.
The city hosts the Salzburg Festival which is an annual outstanding event of music and drama held each summer during July and August. (It's quite hard to find tickets to this world wide reputable festival).

Salzburg is closely associated with the name of its famous son, composer Wolfang Amadeus Mozart (What a prolific composer! He wrote symphonies, sonatas, operas, marches, serenades, concertos, minuets, quartets..). His birthplace, his residence, his family's graves, the Mosarteum university - all are 'hot' tourist attractions. Getreidegasse, the street where Mozart was born (at nr.9) , one of the oldest in Salzburg, is a fashionable shopping street, crowded with lots of tourists.

"The Sound of Music" starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Palmer was filmed in Salzburg and its surroundings. The plot of the movie is based on a true story of Maria , a nun from a Salzburg nearby abbey who was sent to the house of a widowed retired naval officer, von Trapp, to take care of his seven children. The widower and Maria ultimately fell in love and got married.

Salzburg - on the banks of the Salznach river

Now, what about the ball chocolates, the Mozartkugeln? Well, I allowed myself to be completely seduced by this chocolate delicacy. Yummy, yummy!

from Intellicaviar

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

"To sin is human To forgive is divine"

synagogue, shofar blowing , men with prayer shawls(talit) , kapparot

I'm not religious, but there are certain religious customs that I respect and observe. Such is the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) , the holiest and most solemn day of the year for those who belong to the Jewish Faith, the day when we atone for our sins .

On this day I stop all activities, I fast, I open the Book of Prayers and pray for Divine forgiveness, honor the memory of the deceased in my family, beg for a good decree for the coming year. Candles are lit in the house before sunset. During the week prior to this day I engage in giving charity .

So, on this Sunday (27.09) from 5 o'clock in the evening until Monday(28.09) 6 o'clock in the evening I 'll be in a totally spiritual world where I don't relate to my bodily needs; I abstain from eating, drinking and other neccessities or pleasures. washing is minimum, and I don' t wear leather shoes , as it reminds of the body skin . I do nothing except reading prayers , meditating , or taking a nap... I might go to the synagogue for part of the service conducted there, to hear the cantor singing favorite passages like "All Wows" (Kol Nidrei). I emerge from this holy day feeling confident that God has heard and accepted my heartfelt prayers.

I've always thought there are two basic categories of sins: sins towards God, and sins towards Man. Recently I came upon an article by Nina Amir in the "Jewish Magazine" that mentions a third category: sins towards ourselves. Pity she doesn't elaborate. I'm very curious to know what these sins are. For instance, if I want or need something but I make no real efforts to get it, could that be sinning towards myself? I wonder.

My favorite Yom Kippur song is Avinu Malkenu - Our Father Our King ( Barbara Streissand made it worldwide famous) . I know of two main musical versions, both are beautiful. This in the video below is the more modern one ; the video opens with the rehearsal.

'Our Father Our King
Hear our voice
Our Father Our King
We have sinned before you
Our Father Our King
Bring us back to you in full repentance
Our Father Our King
Forgive and pardon all our misdeeds'

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Shall We Can-Can, Girls?

Moulin Rouge - in Montmartre , center of Paris' night life

Well then, skirts up, legs up (revealing the underwear ), high kicking, provocative movements of the body , black stockings, hats with feathers - following the music of Offenbach's Gallop Infernal from 'Orpheus in the Underworld' - that's can-can.

The legendary Moulin-Rouge Cabaret, marked by a red mill on its roof , located in Paris-Montmartre ,was inaugurated in October 1889 offering, to this day, extravagant shows mixing circus, dance, theater, music-hall. The basic concept of the show is based on fabulous settings, original music and ...beautiful girls. This cabaret has played host to many celebrities: Edith Piaf, Yves Montand, Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzerald, Elton John, Liza Minelli etc.. By the way, one is not allowed entrance to the show if dressed in casual garments.

Moulin-Rouge ( French for red windmill) became the most famous cabaret in the world , to a great extent, due to the 'can-can' dance
performed on its stage in chorus line style . The can-can was viewed, especially in its very beginnings, as vulgar, indecent, scandalous, decadent and erotic, meant to sexually arouse the male audience.
(It should be mentioned that this dance was the basis for the 1960 musical film "Can-Can" starring Frank Sinatra and Shirley McLaine).

I once joined a can-can workout course (the other options were folk dancing and belly dancing). Can-Can does wonders to the body; the dance is very demanding and exhausting physically , but the fun is great and it's an excellent way of keeping fit.

The workout took place in a vast hall, doors closed, and yet people from outside this hall managed somehow to peep into what was going on inside.
One day, after workout, I entered the cafeteria and a guy addressed me with : 'I thought you were supposed to wear white panties not beige ones'. Cheeky. I was furious, but I kept calm and said to him in a very cool voice: 'The beige you saw, was the colour of the skin; to your information we were wearing no panties at all'- and left him speechless; ha, ha , ha.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Rothenburg ob der Tauber

Rothenburg is a charming little medieval town above the river Tauber in Bavaria, Germany. It has remained unchanged for centuries, with red roof houses overlooking the river, encircled by walls and towers which offer great views of the city, cobbled lanes, churches, historical buildings, a medieval Crime Museum (displaying devices of torture and execution) . The market place (Marktplatz} is the center of the town, and its most famous building is the Town Hall (Rathaus).

Christmas is not so far away, so it 's a proper time to mention the fact that this town has the reputation of being "town of eternal Christmas"; it specializes in Christmas gifts and souvenirs, local shops selling them all year round. In December its center becomes a big Christmas market. There's also a Christmas Museum exhibiting traditions of Christmas decorations , ornaments and figures.

I had a rather unpleasant incident while in pleasant Rothenburg. At that time, I started collecting tiny mechanical wrist watches as a hobby. I saw some nice models in a store in the center of the city, so while there, I opened a small pad to write down prices and features of the several displayed watches , in order to make a buying decision.

A saleswoman seeing me look at the watch items and scribbling in my pad started to yell at me; she thought I was some kind of spy for another store. I tried to explain to her in my very broken german what I was doing, but she kept on yelling. Judging by her accent she was hungarian, not german , which is a different mentality. Anyway, I decided to give up my purchase plan , and to avoid further embarrassment I left the store.

I then entered a nearby coffee shop and ordered a slice of 'black forest' cake and an esspresso. Suddenly, as from nowhere, the 'hungarian' appeared at my table asking for forgiveness and trying to drag me back to the shop, promising a big discount. It appeared that someone who had witnessed the incident reported it to the manager and she was in trouble. With my mouth full of the delicious cake I told her zu spat, that is, too late. I've just decided to give up my costly hobby. and I'm celebrating my decision over the german traditional black forest cake.

Would she care to join me? ( After all, I felt a bit guilty about the whole thing; maybe I should have asked permission prior to my writing down the info about the watches). 'To Hell with work', she said, and accepted my invitation. aLL's wELL tHAT eNDS wELL.

town wall encircling the historic center

Monday, September 7, 2009

A Lesson in Kindness

Horse Memorial Statue

Seldom does one see such display of compassion and tenderness for an animal , in a work of art, as that in the Horse Memorial bronze statue in Port Elizabeth, South Africa - known to be one of only three memorials in the world dedicated to horses.

In the main city squares of Europe and also in other parts of the world, there's always some statue of a man ( king or national hero) sitting on a horse in a domineering posture . Here it's the opposite. The man, a soldier, is knealing to allow the horse to quench its thirst from the bucket held in his hands. The soldier shows both kindness and responsability towards the loyal animal placed under his charge.

The Horse Memorial in the lovely city of Port Elizabeth commemorates all those horses that fell serving their masters during the Anglo-Boer war; The inscription on the base reads:"The greatest of a nation depends not so much upon the numbers of its people or its territory as in the extent and justice of its compassion." The base of the statue incorporates a drinking trough.

The story has it that a lady by the name of Harriet Mayer was the president of a commitee for collecting money to erect this statue. When unveiling the statue, The Mayor of the city thanked Mrs. Mayer and insisted in using a figure of speech about her: "she had worked like a horse" he said. I would say, she had probably eaten a lot of roughage too, to get the money.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Wailing Wall & the 'CNN interview'

the 'women's only' section

I haven't been there for quite a while. I keep away from crowds, and there's always a crowd at the Wailing Wall, the remaining wall of the Temple of God, in the old city of Jerusalem. People are coming here from all over the country and from abroad to feel the presence of God, touch and kiss the sacred wall stones, pray for divine mercy, weep, insert a wish note (tzetel) into the cracks of the wall and between the stones.

The types of wishes on those notes are endless: health, success, finding a spouse, procreation
, guidance from God in personal problems, long life etc...
Nowadays, people can send their prayers and wishes by e-mail, by fax and even by Tweeter (Some see all this as sacrilegious, I haven't got an opinion yet on this matter).

Anyway , as far as I know, the slips of paper are collected twice a year and burried on Mount Olive ( the place from which, so it is believed, God will begin to redeem the dead at the end of the days).

There's this famous joke (Oh God, please forgive me!), about a CNN journalist who interviewed an old jewish man who had been going to the Wailing Wall to pray every day for a long time:

- Sir, how long have you been coming to the Wall and praying?
- For about 60 years.
-What do you pray for?
- I pray for Peace between Jews and Arabs.
-How do you feel after doing this for 60 years?
- Like I'm talking to a wall.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Between Bocelli and Beethoven

During the last ten years of her life, my Mom was completely blind and deaf. The full blindness came after a long battle with the glaucoma eye disease; the hearing problems started when as a young woman she got beatten on head and ears by a german officer ; over the years it gradually worsened and deafness became permanent condition.

Mom's intense blue eyes ( that stayed beautiful and open till her last moment) and her delicate shaped ears never leave my thoughts. There are times when I think of her, wish to lie down and just cry - to make it up for all those terrible moments when I wanted to cry but I couldn't, I had to be strong for her sake.
It is in times like these that I seek the proper atmosphere ; I turn to the voice of the blind italian tenor Andrea Bocelli, and to Symphony nr.5 by the huge deaf german (how ironical) composer Ludwig van Beethoven .

Andrea Bocelli is relatively young, handsome and...blind. He was diagnosed in early childhood with glaucoma, and at the age of 12 after an accident he lost his sight. I like it both when he sings with or wihout a partner, his voice stirring up in me the right emotions.

Beethoven wrote his Symphony nr.5 at a time when he was struggling with his deafness. It sounds very angry and stormy . The beginning of the symphony is dramatic, the end is considered triumphant. I never cease to wonder how a deaf man like Beethoven could compose such mighty sounds. Anyway, I'm totally and utterly enslaved to this symphony; it helps me take out all the anger and frustration I've accumulated regarding my mother's fate.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Pink House

It stands on elevated ground, at the intersection of two streets. It has arched windows, cute semiround balconies, a decorative wood entrance door , and an ornamented iron gate ,all of which add elegance to the building. A long garden separates it from the next house's garden. Most of the time the house was uninhabited, or at least so it seemed, and that gave way to speculations and gossip in the small neighborhood. The owners of the house, apparently French citizens , are probably here now as the house looks refreshened lately.

Apart from serving as an informal direction indicator ("you get to the pink house, and then you turn right,/left/go straight ahead"), this small architectural gem painted in vintage pink has been an inspiration for those wishing to build a house with an old world charm.

One evening, some two years ago, I was on my way home , from a visit to an aquaintance of mine who was very ill. I was naturally in a sad, pensive mood, When I got close to the pink house, I noticed something which diverted me from my gloomy thoughts. There was a big light in one of the windows , and I saw a man intensely gesticulating and talking to someone in the room. I got curious, and since there were no dogs or electronics I approached the fence with no fear, in order "to get a better view".

As I was staring at the window trying to identify the person, someone from behind twisted my arms as if in an atempt to tie my hands. It was a terrifying moment until I heard "Guess who". It was the slightly retarded man who lived in the vicinity. I was trembling, and in pain from his grip . All I could do is to warn him never again to come near me . He seemed shocked at my angry reaction and kept muttering I'm sorry, I'm sorry. He thought he was showing his friendship for me, he said. He always looked so weak, I could never have suspected the strength in his hands. He was also so very timid and well-mannered, I couldn't have believed he would dare touch me.

From that evening on I lost all interest in the pink house, I learnt to mind my own business , and I also gave more thought to the less fortunate people such as the above mentioned handicapped man.

The pink house before the recent "refreshment"

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Moscow 2009 - Red Army Choir

The most famous and well-known russian songs such as Kalinka, Katyusha, Ochi Chorneye are best performed, to my mind, by the Red Russian Army Choir. This choir has great voices , and the uniforms that go with it never fail to impress an audience.

However...they cannot go on singing year after year, decade after decade using the same dry army style. 'Kalinka' and 'Katyusha' are songs with a speedy tempo and require choreography, 'Ochi Chornye' needs a woman with black burning eyes on the stage. That's a new era , they have to adjust.

As kids we were crazy about singing the refrain of Kalinka (little snowberry ), and we derived pleasure from the fact that it generates the word... 'kaka' (shit, in many languages). It goes like this: Ka - lin-a- Kaka - lin-a - kaka - lin-a - ka-moya.

[This reminds me of something about the Israelis ( not the kids, the adults).They love the names of two places in the world: Guadalahara in Mexico, and Harare in Zimbabwe. Why so? Well, these two names include the word 'hara' which in spoken hebrew means 'shit'. So the stand-upist will say something like this to his audience: "Last year I was at the soccer games in Guadalahara. Believe me , I didn't lick any honey there." ].

Well, things become more serious when we get to Katyusha, the second song. This song is about a young girl , Katyusha (the diminutive of Katya) , longing for her beloved who's away on military service. So far so good, but the russians gave the song's name to the deadly rocket they had invented. The katyusha , mounted on truck for mobility, is the pride of its russian creators and the sweetheart of the arab terrorists, but our people in Israel get hurt by it.

Now, back to the Red Army Choir. I've been following their video clips of the last years, and there were some minor attempts to introduce slight changes, but the outcome was usually ridiculous. Their main problem seemed to be with Ochi Chornye (Black eyes ,also translated as Dark eyes). It has more than one version . but basically , the song is adressed to a woman with "black eyes, burning eyes/passionate and splendid eyes/how I love you ,how I fear you". It's kind of hard for some colonel in the best and most fearful army in the world to play the role of the unhappy lover in front of some gypsy-like woman.

Surprise, Surprise. The Red Army Choir finally did it all. in its guest appearance at the Eurovision Song Contest 2009 in Moscow . They sang all these three songs and more, with the appropriate addition of dancers and dark eyed women (nice compromise - the colonel doesn't have to sing to a particular dark-eyed woman; he's surrounded by several of them).

Notice the difference between the two soloists: the first one who sings Kalinka, is a light version, in white uniform with licked hair, more like Elvis Presley.
The soloist of Ochi Chorneye is the classical soloist of the Red Army. What a Man! What a Voice!


Thursday, August 13, 2009


Humoristic postcard featuring Nessie with a long neck

After all these years (since 1933), with so many film expeditions and sonar experiments ,the mystery hasn't been solved yet, that of the water creature from Lochness in Scotland, affectionately referred to by the diminutive Nessie. So far, a lot of theories, but nothing definitely identified.

'Ness' in the Hebrew language means 'miracle', and that makes me think of the many 'miracles' in that area of Inverness (the small capital city of the Scottish Higlands) and the Lochness lake, due to the phenomena of Nessie.

First and foremost, it brings a lot of tourists who bring a lot of money and so help develop the place . The area attracts people of high quality : scientists, journalists, photographers and others who 'put the region on the map'. Moreover, from my brief visit here in the past, I recall feeling an unusual inner peace (calm, relaxation) and an unusual silky quality of my skin and hair. To my mind, it is the presence of something undefinable (Nessie??) about this part of Scotland that makes one feel here good in a strange way.

Anyway , the lake (Lochness) is long and straight and there's a castle (ruins of a castle, more precisely) on its bank. From what I'd read and heard, the sightings of Nessie occurred mostly in the area around this Urquhart castle. Well, I have a theory of my own . It goes like this: I say there's no smoke without fire. Too many testimonies indicate the presence of some special creature. some sort of animal or fish with both aquatic and non -aquatic skills in this area of the lake. To get to it , the castle of Urquhart will have to be completely demolished; this castle is, in my humble opinion the key to the mystery . But that won't happen , the demolition, as the castle is considered an historical, preserved site - part of the scottish heritage. So, the mystery will probably remain unsolved for a long, long time - perhaps forever.

Here are some photos with the castle and the lake from various angles.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

A Taste of Sweden

Palm trees welcome at Ikea

Greta Garbo, Ingmar Bergman, Ingrid Bergman - famous swedish names associated with great movies, Alfred Nobel - famous swedish scientist, the name behind the Nobel prize, "Abba" band, eurovision song contest winners - famous swedish name in lovely lively music, and... Ikea - famous swedish name in home design concept. Not bad, Sweden.

Ikea's concept is based mainly on two principles: 1. flat pack of furniture and of smaller home stuff, which reduces expenses of transportation, minimizes damage , and frees storage space. 2. do it yourself work by the consummer - assembly of components with the help of wordless instructions (drawings). Due to this concept, the consummer usually gets good quality for a relatively low price.

2009 Ikea catalog front cover

Once a year, Ikea sends to each address a colorful , 300 page catalog that displays their home products for that year and includes a lot of useful information.
The merchandise is designed by Swedish designers (the materials and work though come from many countries on the globus). At the store's restaurant one gets to eat "swedish meat balls", and there's also a tiny food shop which sells swedish made food products. such as frozen fish, crackers, coffee, chocolate.

The trip to Ikea is not always rewarding. Last year , for example, I bought a non -electric , originally designed kettle, which was supposed to shriek when water reaches boiling point. Well, it did not shriek, and I felt cheated.

Before I set out to Ikea store, I have no way of knowing whether I'll find the catalog items I'm looking for, as checking with the store by phone is a nightmare, and their website tells you only if a certain item is or isn't in the inventory. If the required stuff (usually small items) is in the warehouse, they won't fetch it for you, and will probably tell you to come next week or so.

Ikea is the only store, as far as I know, that requires to see your ID card when paying with credit card. That really makes me nervous. I hide my ID card so well that I can't remember in which one of the pockets I put it, and now with all the packages, they expect me to start looking for it. Ha! And God forbid if there's a mistake in the bill; they don't fix it on the spot but send you to the customers' service where you have to take a number and wait in line.
Luckily, there's delicious ice cream at 'the end of the road' and this makes it up for everything.

warehouse store structure

Thursday, July 30, 2009

'Digging' at Bezalel market

No one really knows where the good stuff, sold here at ridiculous prices ,comes from. No one dares ask how this merchandise from well-known store chains and top fashion designers has turned up here, and who are these people that sell it. It is believed that there's a worldwide net which gets hold of the fine stock of surpluses. and distributes it , probably by dubious means, to its members in various countries . As for the people who sell it - my favorite place, for instance, is run by a drug addict, quite a character.

The price is a great bargain, but there's work to be done. One has to dig for the precious items deep into piles of clothes displayed both on the outside stands and inside the shops. And, in my case, when I get home I sometimes have to activate my sewing machine and make a few adjustments to the newly purchased items. But every effort is worthwhile. It's such a delight to wear a "Marks & Spencer"outfit , knowing that you paid for it five dollars only ! And I don't wish to know how the stuff got here. There, I said it.

"Bezalel" , a tiny clothing market (also of some home appliances and gifts) is situated in the very heart of Tel-Aviv city, close to its bigger brother, the 'Carmel' general market. It includes a short street and two small lanes. The attached photos were taken in the main street area.

I've received two kinds of reactions to one of the photos (guess which):

Men : ' Oh well, You had to capture only half of her and ruin a good photo'
Women: 'Why on earth did you have to bring in that half milk cow and ruin a good photo'
The truth is I haven't even noticed the 'a la Dolly Parton girl ' when I pointed to shoot. I'm definitely in favor of showing the whole thing. not half of it.

trouble with the nose or with the smell?

she's got lovely Love earrings

religious orthodox women looking for kids' clothing

interesting patch on the pants of the young woman

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The lonely fisherman

catching fish

See the red spot on the steep rock? That's a young man dressed in a red shirt catching fish in the Bistrita (Bistritza) river in north east Romania. The name Bistrita has its origin in the slavic word 'bystrica' meaning serene water. Serene indeed, and not only the water, but the whole landscape surrounding it. It's not the same serenity one experiences at the Dead Sea, for instance, but still ,serene enough for a relaxation vacation and for catching fish.

Anyway, I saw the fisherman from the back and wanted to capture him from the front. So I went up the bridge, but I coudn't see him at all from there. I stretched my arm in the proper direction (where he was supposed to be) with camera face down, and clicked. Got him. (Who says I have no photographic skills? LOL). When enlarged , it is quite a nice picture with a cute , lonely fisherman. I like it.

It so happened that on that day, we had fish (good source for Omega3 oil) and mamaliga (polenta porridge) for dinner. With the local sparkling mineral water , it all tasted great.

road bridge over Bistrita seen from below

the road bridge

the serene waters of Bistrita

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Yungfrau - forever young and cool

Where I live, summers are very hot and humid, so I often try to escape the sticky reality by letting my imagination run freely to cool, icy places I once visited. My favourite in this category is the Yungfrau, in the Swiss Alps. The german word 'yungfrau' is translated as 'virgin'. Indeed, there's a virgin kind of beauty about this highest mountain peak in Europe; all white and impeccable as if untouched. ( Sorry for the poor color quality of the attached pictures- the snow should, of course, be white, not yellow).

When you reach the summit (by clog rail which runs inside the mountain tunnel,) you witness a stunning view: bright blue skies, white snow capped mountains, the sun shining from above (sunglasses - a must). You feel you're on the Top of the world ,not only on the top of Europe, and that's a terrific feeling. The Yungfrau range of mountains has in fact three giant peaks, but only the highest among them bears the name of Yungfrau , and it is below this peak that trains arrive from the nearby charming little town called Interlaken, a well-known resort in the area.

Yungfrau with its snow, ice, and glaciars is the perfect place to dream about in these torrid days.

Oh, dear God , please have mercy upon our souls and send us now some of that mountain blessed coolness, so that we can enjoy the outdoors , and give up air conditioning, indoors!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Rural Touch

"Don't trust women and don't trust the clutch"- this piece of 'advice' was written on the back of a car in a village I visited recently in north -east Romania. Even in the 21st century, it appears there are still places where people have more confidence in horse -drawn wagons than in cars.

The guy in the first picture was waiting to 'upload' me in his rudimentary horse- drawn cart and take me to the village where I was supposed to meet with an old, confined to bed member of his family, someone who ,as a young peasant lass , used to come to the small town of my childhood, to help my mother clean the house and do the laundry.

Short after the ride started, the horse raised his tail and ...released a very bad smell in our direction. I looked at the driver; he seemed cool. Well, he's probably used to it, but I was almost asphixiated.

Anyway, after a few minutes I felt better and started to enjoy the green scenery around, the vast, open spaces with or without sheep and cows, humming to myself the only line I knew from a song that mentions horse and carriage: Frank Sinatra 's " love and marriage, love and marriage go together like a horse and carriage" . I was not very comfortable. I had to hold on to the man's arm with one hand , and to the bench I was sitting on ,with the other one, but neverheless I felt great. Besides, the ride was in a gentle tempo and lasted only about twenty minutes.

vast green fields

A couple of hours later, after exchanging kisses and presents with the target woman , and eating a copious meal with incredible dishes served by her daughter-in-law , I was to go back to town with the guy's niece in an even simpler cart (the third picture), as he was in a hurry to get to a wedding in an adjacent village. Well, it was me , the big adventurer, who insisted on a full cart journey, so I had to take what came along. This time it was even funnier. Me and the niece behaved like two bad schoolgirls shouting nasty words at the poor horse (I''m so ashamed!) , laughing , and leaving to God to protect us from the poor country road.

Back at the hotel, I thought about the horse. What a hard life the poor animal has, what an exploited creature, pulling people and loads in any weather. There are probably cases of malnutrition and general maltreatment too. I hope there's an association somewhere representing horse rights as there is for human rights, only something far more efficient.