Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Preparing the shelter

I've been having some serious technical problems which have kept me off-line for a while. Also been busy with a roller-coaster of family celebrations, and departures. It's good to be back. Being technically obstructed from posting this blog was surprisingly frustrating. Now that the technology is is so simple, I'm as hooked on it as everyone else.

Another technological marvel, produced the photo above which I used to illustrate my very first blog. A few months ago I submitted it to a photo contest on theme of tmunot yafot (beautiful pictures of Yaffo) and a few days was awarded an honorable mention and dinner for 2 at a fancy Yaffo restaurant! The contest was sponsored by Harova (The Quarter) a company marketing a new residential complex in Yaffo but the judges included some of Israel's leading photographers. You saw it here first! See all the photos here. Click to enlarge.

While banished from my small virtual world I wrote something that I'll post here. I'll be back soon......

End of July, the height of summer. Outside, the air consistency resembles krupnik soup. Rooftop temperature 31 degrees Celsius with 80% (it’s-not-the-heat-it’s-the) humidity. Sea temperature 30 degrees. Swimming is only refreshing for the 45 seconds the hot breeze blows against your skin as you exit the water. Then you’re sweating again.

The northern European epidermis I inherited from generations of Polish, Lithuanian and British ancestors, revolts violently against this boiling Levantine sauna. Only a/c brings reprieve.

A few days ago I needed to enter the miklat (air raid shelter) of our building and after heaving open the heavy iron door was almost knocked senseless by a wave of damp, acrid heat. Admittedly, part of the problem may have been connected to the fact that I had stuffed rags into the air vents so that the neighbours wouldn’t be disturbed by my drum practices. I decided that the place needed airing urgently but when I tried to open the heavy emergency exit-window to let in some air from outside, it would hardly budge.

Apart from the ventilation problem, another reason to fix the shelter’s emergency exit (the only escape route if the main door is blocked, by debris, say) is that we might actually need to use it. Exactly one year after the outbreak of the Lebanon III War that brought Hizbullah missiles as close as Hadera, a 40-minute drive away, we have all been acutely conscious that next time they could hit further south and that the Tel Aviv bubble is not exactly a missile shield. Syria’s Assad has been noting that if the Golan Heights are not returned through negotiations they could be liberated by war. And of course the media have been playing up the “Will there be a war in the summer?” theme.

Right now, war and peace with Syria seem like equidistant possibilities. For a serious look at the tangled web of Israeli-Syrian contacts see http://www.merip.org/mero/mero072607.html

Meanwhile, the friendly neighbour from number 5 has agreed to take care of the emergency exit and also to install a venta (electric ventilation fan) instead of one of the air vents. Va’ad ha-bayit (the house committee) will foot the bill.

Our miklat, its bleak concrete walls enlivened by life-sized images of jazz greats painted by one of kid's artist friends, is a general depository for bikes, garden tools, my drum set, old prams, and other junk left behind by generations of tenants. Without water, a toilet or medical supplies, it is totally unprepared for hostilities. At least we’ll be able to breathe better once the venta is installed but before packing away my drums to make way for an emergency mattress I want to to be assured that war is imminent.

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