40 Days in Holy Land

 

I woke up shivering and grabbing a hot loaf of bread given to me by the air- hostess. I was on my way to Israel, for a summer internship. I reached Israel at 4:00 AM i,e Indian time 6:30AM. My eyes rush through the boards which people have. Ah! I saw a lady in a blue top and white pants whose eyes fell upon me. I read the name on the board and there it is, that’s Raquel the lady who came to pick us. Accompanying me was Madhurima, my senior from college. Raquel and Phillipe came to pick us as per instructions of Chetana, a lady from Amma’s Satsang group.

I can still picture me standing in front of the dorms, waiting for the someone whom we don’t know to attend to us so that we get our accommodation. This small girl almost bit taller than me, curled hair small eyes but very cute comes over greets us and hand over us the keys. Introducing to you our Madrichim named Natalli.  I went over to see the rooms. The rooms are quiet good. It was two rooms in one apartment with a kitchen and bathroom and balcony for each room.

By evening we had a small meetup where we got to meet the fellow students from here and there around the world. Obviously, you eyes would just run around and find the Indians first. So did mine. We were all seven together. Three in total from my University and two from TN,  one from Punjab and one from Bengal. Each time I meet an Indian my mind was telling me “Go meet foreigners!” as it was instructed. At first, I refused to hear, but I went to meet some Chinese and Americans.

The next day was orientation and I met our next Madrichim named Omer, tall fair and looked quite aged. His glasses reflected the entire crowd in it. We headed to the University, so as he guided. Then we had refreshments and we settled to meet the rest. Then came up two more Madrichims, Eilon and Orr. Never bothered much as I was more interested in meeting people. There were long talks by the Madrichims and then we headed to grab some food.

After the session, I and Madhu went to for a walk to find the beach but got ourselves ended in some airport. Funny!!! It wasn’t for me I remember walking about 14 km. Nevertheless getting lost was the best part. I would walk around purposefully to get lost. So that I figure the way out. Sometimes, it turned to be a difficulty but it was awesome. Getting lost help you meet new people too, I do remember some named from the list Edna, Dubey, Nooley, Victoria, Arielle, Sam… Long list, but whomever I met said to me how much they liked India.

That night we made Indian food, we got two new friends. Noam and Tomer, they just came in to greet us with a bottle of wine. I later found out that it was the aroma of the Indian spices which made them get to our room. Well back to the topic Wine, me being a Teetotaller, knew all the way that one day I have to try out. But I didn’t want this to be so early. Tomer handed me one glass and I was telling myself “You can do it champ”. I took my first sip, I sit behind analysing the taste. Yak!!! I wanted to spit but I tried to behave normal, I sat down to take two more sips. The third one was quite big, and I went off. My head started spinning twisting and turning. When Noam forwarded me the bottle, I was out. I got more chances to try out all types of wine beer and all. At first, I refused but towards the end, I could drink one whole bottle of beer.

Making friends then became my hobby, but I was sure “just friends”, as I always end up in the wrong company. I remember meeting Lior in a Google Campus Tel-Aviv. He had sparkling blue eyes. Awe!!  I would fall for those eyes. 😛 He is working as a Product Manager in Guardicore and I got to spend a lot of time with him. He was delivering the talk on ” How cool Slack is!”. I remember meeting Constantine who was a very enthusiastic engineer, he got to be our tour guide who made us walk km to eat a falafel. The list never ends, they were the best I could spot.

We had trips organised by the Madrichims to different places and the first one was North trip where we went to Golan Heights, Sea of Galilee. We had a small trekking, that’s when we get closer with our Madrichim. We were on our bus with Eilon and Omer, they both were good. They knew well about the places and thanks to our tour guide Golan, who kept on giving us info about each place we visit. My eyes always run at the sight of playing fun with others and I saw Eilon counting and counting. Reanana our head counsellor joined us for in between as Omer left us as Kai got his leg sprained. That day I found out how much Israelis take care of their place. Imagine you are walking in a forest in India and you see some plastics nearby, what do you being an Indian do? What if you rubber lace just came out of your shoes? Obviously, very few Indians would have the courtesy to put the waste in your bag and drop it in the next dustbin you find. When I saw Eilon keeping the trash in his bag, his words reminded me of my best friend who always puts trash in her bag. Just a small difference, she kept trash in her bag just because she was lazy to walk till the trashcan. Israelis and their love to their country is so great. I wish all Indians were brought up like that. Be it in any place on the world, there is no other country to replace this culture of my nation.

The second trip was to South of Israel to Ben Gurion’s Tomb, Ein Gedi and to the Dead Sea. We visited a Kibbutz and hiked in Ein Gedi, rolling splashing, drowning in water. It was just fabulous, I have no words to describe the trip as my eyes were always busy capturing the beautiful sights of the place and my mind was busy questioning things and capturing moments. I got to float in the dead sea, which was awesome and terrible. I burned my leg when I ran without shoes to the to get a bath. Oh yeah! I forgot. Bichara Eilon, I asked him his maths scores after seeing him count. That’s how I got to make more friends like David, Victor, Tania and all. The trip was more of fun and I haven’t had much of experience in this one. Just memories. I remember the funniest thing, swearing at Karthikay for his photo booming act. I met more nature lovers this time.

I love cooking except that I don’t cook. My Mom normally kicks me out of her kitchen saying I make a mess. Yes, I do, which I realised after getting in Israel. We had to cook our own food. For the first few weeks, readymade foods went but I started missing Indian food badly. I could never think how I would have survived without spices. I had terrible time cooking, but I did learn to cook properly. My only concern is, to wait till it gets cooked. I am so lazy to stand and stir. So I keep it in the high flame so things get undercooked or overcooked, but never cooked perfectly. But I did manage to correct my mistakes and make a good Soya curry which I am so proud off. My testing was done on dal, rajma, aloo gobi. I did succeed finally.  I realised how much I love Spicy food. I miss the Hyderabadi pickle of my roommate and my mom’s dosa and chutney. But now I am back, to fill my tummy with what I love eating.

In fact, I did testing making  food, but I also did testing tasting the food there. I remember on the flight to Israel, they served us with hummus, I tasted it and it felt yak! It was like one tasteless thing, good for nothing. Later then I got taste hummus again, but until I discovered the right place to have it. Thanks to Eilon. He mentioned the shop we went there to have falafel, that’s when I taste good hummus. It was awesome. Falafel is the best food. Now that I am gonna miss it badly too. I wish if there was some Israeli Dhaba in India too… I got to eat Shakshuka which was good too. But the Khabab from Abulafia caught my taste, it was so yummy. Normally, meat is half cooked but this one was awesome. I could not stop eating it even when my stomach says ‘ I am done’.

I completely forgot to mention why I came to Israel. I have been here for a summer course in Cyber Security, which came out to be last priority here. I had two classes one on Islam Politics and terror and second the Cyber one. Let me tell you Islam Politics is a really good subject, not that I was so interested in it from the beginning. Being a backbencher in all classes, I went to experience the front row views, I slept in the first class itself. I felt the classes to be boring from the first day. I skipped more classes than I ever attended. I would have been in front of my counsellor with my MC if this was in India. But then towards the end I started reading stuff, I got interested in Al-Qaeda, ISIS, Iranian Movement, Sunnis and Shias, Al-Nusra, Israel, and Palestinians. But I wanted to see the views of both Muslims and Jews which I never got to. My interest in cryptography got stimulated, as that was the only class in which I listened in Cyberclass. All the rest class I was reading and writing stuff. If you are from India, then you would be so happy that we can use laptops in class as notebooks and cheat-sheets. Such a life!! No wonder I passed the exam somehow. 😛

I did visit other places like Haifa, Jaffa, Shu Carmel. Unfortunately, I couldn’t visit Jerusalem, which I had to extend to my next visit to Israel if ever I get a chance to come.Sitting down to make a long story short is difficult, as I write each line more and more memories come in saying how important they are but if I continue then I better end up writing a book than a blog post.

Few things of my personal interest:

  1. The people are fitness conscious and it’s awesome, which is not very common in south India
  2. They love India and Indians
  3. Eat Falafel like anything, it is the best
  4. Hated traffic rules! In India, you need not wait just walk
  5. Lots of cute babies and doggies 🙂

The lazy me stops me from selecting pics and showing it so here it is in this link. I thank Tony ettan who pushed me so much to apply for this and to all those people who were there to help and support throughout this journey.

 

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