Friday, December 21, 2001

You meet some strange people in hostels. Israeli hostels especially, it seems.

All I've been doing for the last few days, and will do for the next couple, is just hanging around. I find Tel Aviv a pleasant enough place to hang around, although like Aberdeen I feel it's a better place to live than to visit, as there isn't much in the way of tourist attractions. So much of my time is spent just lazing around, with the inadvertant consequences that I've been getting to know those fellow hostel residents around me.

A Jewish-Australian called David is the one I suppose I've got to know best, although the effort has been all on his part. Four months ago he broke up with his girlfriend of 10 years, and oh boy, don't I know it. I've heard the story oh... 76,000 times? After ten years of being perfect (except for that one time he cheated on her of course...), being a big achiever with a full life, they broke up because she started seeing another man. And David crumbled. Even though he knew they were going nowhere and he refused to marry her because she had low self-esteem and wouldn't get a job, he had a total nervous breakdown but decided that instead of killing the guy she was seeing, he'd take a break from work and go to Israel to "find himself". This has involved the use of several prostitutes, but by happy chance he's fallen madly in love with this Israeli girl called Nilli. That he's met once. Yup, once only, and a few phonecalls that from what I gather have been him asking her out and she making excuses as to why she can't go. Undeterred however, David is already planning his marriage to this girl, convinced that she'll change her mind. They're "just perfect" together, you see. Somehow though, he's managed to land himself an accountancy job in a Jewish firm in London, starting at 30,000 pounds a year. He got the job today so has been very happy and has said repeatedly how glad he his that he broke up with his old girlfriend. His life is now perfect. He's going to make enough money in 10 years to be able to retire in Israel, married to Nilli, and send his kids to a private school. Nilli fits perfectly into all of this. If he can just make her see...

I may have become David's best friend by virture of a technique I got from H, back in Aberdeen a couple of years ago. As David talks and talks and talks, I just nod my head understandingly and say "Hmm, yes", "Quite right" and "Tell me more..."

I've also told David I'm a reporter for Lonely Planet and not only has he believed this, but I think he may have spread the word round the rest of the hostel.

Also in my dormitory is a very peculiar little Iranian guy who unbelievably has lived in the hostel for five years. Saving money to return to Los Angeles apparently. Though five years may seem a long time to save this one airfare, it makes sense when you realise that all he actually does in Tel Aviv is potter about the hostel making coffee for himself. He speaks in staccato and also believes I'm a Lonely Planet reporter.

There's Vlad the Ukranian guy. He's quite cool. He had a serious car crash three years ago that affected him in the horrific way that he's unable to drink alcohol as it gives him dangerously painful headaches. But he seems normal and he's obviously an intelligent guy and it's people like him that make me realise how lucky I am because I'm from a country with money and that lets me go just about anywhere in the world. The British passport is a powerful tool. He actually offered to buy mine. If I'd had a spare one I'd have given it to him.

There's an English guy Warren who seems alright but seems to get frustrated with little things, and there's a pile of other people - mainly South African - whose names I don't know, including the (mainly South African) staff, who all seem alright too. It's a friendly enough atmosphere and an ok place to relax.

Apart from swanning around the hostel, I was out a few nights ago with Bala and a friend of hers called "Gal". These Israeli's have crazy names. I got a pint of Kilkenny for the bargain happy hour price of 18 shekels (3 pounds). Oh Lord.

I haven't seen Bala in the last few days due, very unfortunately, to a death in the family but we're still in contact and have agreed to see Lord of the Rings tomorrow. Maybe something on Sunday too, depending, as Sunday will be my last day in Tel Aviv as I really should get on with things.

That's the situation then and this may be the last entry for a week or so, as I don't know where exactly I'll be then and how readily available internet access will be.

Merry Christmas for Tuesday by the way.


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