Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Israel Sliding Into Recession

Until now it had just been headlines in the paper but my foray today into two local towns brought home the fact that Israel is sliding into recession, alongside the rest of the world. For a while it seemed to be defying the trend, with little visible sign of an economic downturn. Now though, the reality is kicking in.

Today I ventured out to two local towns. It was a beautifully, hot, sunny day. The palm trees were waving in the gentle breeze and life appeared to be going on as normal. Music could be heard from various shops and buses; people were busily going about their business, perhaps on work or shopping activities; motorists were impatiently jamming their horns.. all seemed to be as it always is. And yet…

Whilst visiting the first town I noticed that a café I frequented had shut down and now had a man selling soft furnishings within the stripped down shop. It resembled a market stall and was selling seemingly cheap but quality-looking goods.

At the next town my favourite ‘tastes like home made’ cous cous café was closed and had been replaced by a makeshift falafel stand. Again the shop resembled a carcass, having been stripped down of all assets, giving it the feel of a squat.

The slowly emerging gaps along the high street and the emergence of ‘market stalls’ in vacant lots perhaps made me observe my surroundings more carefully. I was sad to see several people rooting through the rubbish bins (trash cans). These were not traditional ‘vagrants’ but were quite well dressed.

There were quite a lot of buskers on the street too. I passed one man who, farcically it seemed, was playing a violin with a music stand and sheet music propped up next to him. He screeched away at his instrument, seemingly incapable of playing a note. As I walked passed I thought it quite comical that he had taken the trouble to have the music stand next to him – perhaps to give him the air of a professional! However, my eyes gradually drifted to his hands and I noticed him awkwardly holding one hand against the wrong side of the bow. I thought this strange and then wondered whether his clumsy position might actually be the result of a stroke.

By the time I had taken this all in I was some distance away from him and my initial amusement had turned to pity. My short trip out had certainly turned into a depressing eye opener. But for the grace of G-d go I.

Sharona B