|Haifa and Orange Blossoms
||[Mar. 31st, 2011|12:47 pm]
I am completely drunk with the scent of orange blossoms, which the Israelis seem to take for granted.|
Yesterday I continued my bicyling adventures. Tel Aviv is as flat as a model's rear end... just the perfect place for biking. The paths are shared with pedestrians, which makes for safety rather than speed. The crosswalks do that crazy thing where they strand you on the median for 2 minutes, but other than that, I was pretty happy with my 30 or so km around the city.
I did a lecture at Tel Aviv Uni, then met with a sustainable transport activist. Visited the Museum of the Diaspora, which was an eye-opener, even to a history buff. I knew about the Jewish Kingdom in Georgia (South Russia) from the 6th to 9th century. I didn't know about the explorer who wrote up his journey from Spain to Germany to Rome to Greece to Mesopotamia to Morocco in the 12th century, with Jewish communities all along the way. I didn't realize that the Mumbai and Goa communities of Jews have been there 1500 years. It is one heck of a story.
Then I took the train up to Haifa, which is 35 k and a world away from Tel Aviv. To begin with, Haifa is a stair master of a city. Even San Francisco isn't as ridiculously hilly. Haifa is considered boring and industrial. But like Rotterdam, I am finding it quite charming so far. Again, my hosts have been ridiculously warm. I've got a Shabbat dinner lined up for my son and me tomorrow (he's joining me for the weekend), and I'm settled into her office right now. She even arranged for a key.
Today's lecture was on my work with kids. At the end, the students said: so Israel is good for kids' independent mobility? I said: It appears so, in comparison to Australia. Apparently, international researchers don't usually say nice things about Israeli society. But I have seen lots of primary school aged looking kids biking around and going to school by bus by themselves, and that appeared to be reiterated by the students. One, who did a degree at UC Irvine, said the kids were in tears of joy to return home, to a place where they could roam freely, despite bomb scares (by the way, I was involved in a bomb scare yesterday, in Tel Aviv. Didn't even hit the news, completely normalized...).
One of my colleagues here has three children living in the US. Her daughter was able to do community service instead of the army, but attitudes had hardened by the time her sons came up for national service, and they ended up in jail, one after the other. At 19. She invited me to a Women in Black thing yesterday - which is Jewish women protesting the occupation. I might check it out.