Saturday, January 13, 2007

Neighbourhood foray 1

This is the kind of photogenic junk you sometimes see outside houses in trendy Neve Tsedek, the shchuna (neighbourhood) that lies at the foot of my Tel Aviv Rooftop and a magnet for musicians, artists , healers and romantics of all kinds. The creator of these colourful boards happened to be returning home as I was taking the photo. No he didn't want to think twice about throwing them out.

A few steps later I came across a fashion photo-shoot, also a regular sight in these romantic streets with their neo-European flavour. Neve Tsedek, which two decades ago was a notorious slum has been transformed into a quaint village in the middle of the big city and property prices have soared correspondingly.

Which is why unscrupulous property developers, working hand in hand with a cash hungry municipality and irresponsible planning bodies succeeded in building this:

Meet the Neve Tsedek Tower, the bane of the neighbourhood, a monstrous residential tower in which all apartments are designed to face the sea. The local residents opposed its construction to no avail and we are now stuck with this eyesore casting its greedy shadow over Neve Tsedek's modest red-tiled rooftops. You'll be hearing a lot more about this abomination in coming posts as the monster is completed and we follow its effects on the human and physical environment.

But to end on a lighter note let's pop down the road to Shuk Ha-Carmel (the Carmel outdoor market) early on a Friday morning as I tend to, and meet Eitan. Eitan sells olives, pickles, smoked fish and salads that his wife makes. I'm one of his hundreds of regular customers all of whom he knows by name and each of whom he greets like a long lost friend in a host of languages. He also used to play drums in a Greek music band and still has them at home. "Good morning Tel Aviv!" he calls out in English as I approach. Sometimes, after plying you with an unrequested complementary pickled gherkin (hard to digest at 7 a.m.) he confides that life is hard, the hours are long, the competition is wicked and the pickings are slim. But then he flashes that Eitan smile, cracks a joke and you feel obliged to at least take a bite from his cucumber.

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