Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Cities of immigrants and oranges

Tel Aviv from Jaffa
This is Tel-Aviv.

The shurut from Haifa takes 40NIS and drops you off in a grimy neighborhood. This is Tel-Aviv and not only does it feel strange but everything feels out of place. The name should've been the indication. If this isn't an identity crisis, then I don't know what constitutes one. I guess they are right when they say it's the South of France, many people look like they've inspired Donatella Versace's Eurotrash looks. The divide between the rich and the poor is like any other North American city, and looking at Tel-Aviv's skyline makes you feel as if you're somewhere in Mexico in the 70s, the hotels give it away.
Jaffa from Tel Aviv
Jaffa's clocktower. This makes roundabout #3 I illegally and dangerously cross to get a photo.
I wasn't really interested in spending time here anyway and 70s architecture or numerous Bauhaus style homes from the 30s wasn't going to make me stay either. I was more interested in taking a short walk to Jaffa, the Bride of the Sea, the city whose beauty is renowned, a city long inhabited and the city that smells of oranges. I also have a thing for walled cities, which explains my love for Jerusalem.
Unfortunately, Jaffa's walls were dismantled to ease traffic in the 20th century. Her old inhabitants were also dismantled, and must now live with the fact that all their old homes, previously inhabited by Arabs, now house galleries, museums and shops. The Arab population in Jaffa is evident, but due to Tel-Aviv's proximity, the population is more balanced than other old cities. Jaffa's old city doesn't quite feel like Haifa's old market, or Akka's old city. The narrow alleys are cleaner. Some homes are renovated and trees provide shading. Rarely do you find Arabs roaming the streets of Tel-Aviv, but in Jaffa you do, however, most of the shops selling "Falafel, Israel's National Snack" postcards are run by Israelis and flooded with fanny pack wearing Americans.

Jaffa port
The Arab Hebrew theatre
Cannons from the Ottoman era
Ajami café
It isn't hard to imagine how beautiful Jaffa once was and the peaceful harmony that resonated from it. I would live here because it's warm, its coast is blue and its cobblestones are old. I would live here, if it weren't for the obvious obstacles I face.

Sadness consumes me when I walk through the old city and I know if I stay any longer I'd sit still, constantly waiting for the smell of oranges that won't come to fill my nostrils.
Mahmoud Darwish poem on someone's balcony

Hanging rock

1 comment:

  1. So beautiful, so so so so so so so beautiful. Perfect place to live. Khara 3aleihom bsara7a!