When travelling , one is often surprised at the disparity between what you see on the news and TV and what actually exists in reality. Growing up in Trinidad, when Israel was mentioned (typically on the TV or Newspapers, because Trinis don’t really think about the Middle East in the grand scheme of things, we have our own drama with Manning and Panday and Ramesh), the only thoughts that came to mind were those of war, terror, fighting and death. It’s all you saw on CNN. One becomes a little densensitized to the whole affair, to the death and pain. You hear the stories in the news, ” XXX die in city center bombing”, “Suicide bomber kills XXX number of people in the main market”, and other similar stories.
As much as traveling can help expand the horizons of your perception, it is always difficult to overcome childhood biases and stereotypes. Walking down the boardwalk in Tel Aviv was as much an exercise in breaking that terrible thought association as much as it was to enjoy the sights of beautiful sunset on a lovely warm evening, with the waves crashing on the shore, the smell of hummus, wine and sea salt wafting through the air and the sound of Arabic music all around.
As the evening wore on, the joggers and evening enthusiasts came out, for a swim, walk or just enjoying the company of a friend . You can also catch enjoy people playing matkot. Matkot, according to Wikipedia, “or beach paddleball, is a popular traditionally non-competitive game in Israel, sometimes called Israel’s unofficial national sport.” It is played with two players who attempt to hit the ball back and forth as many times as humanly possible, creating a high-risk environment where beachgoers can enjoy the possibility of being hit in the head by a ball flying at Mach-2. I’ve seen Israelis playing the game on Ipanema and Copacabana … they do seem to love the game.
Walking along the Boardwalk, you realize the small pleasure of enjoying that sunset on the coast of Tel Aviv. The history, the sand and just the vibrant energy of the people. I asked many people I met, about the threat of war and fighting to the North and the responses were consistent. People are accustomed the fighting and the war and all have their own politcal views, but they all agree that life has to go on and they can allow the events in the region to dictate how they live their lives. In Trinidad, we just have to worry about Manning and Panday, people in Tel Aviv have to worry about fighting, bombing, gas attacks, and this is after they spend their mandatory time in the army.
Everyone seems to just enjoy the heat and the restaurants along the Boardwalk.
But for now, it’s easier to forget all the world’s problems and just look at sunsets