Let’s talk about bus etiquette.

Public transport is just that, public. This means that I get to travel with the (literal) unwashed masses. It also means you should have a little bit of respect for the strangers in or near your personal space.

Personal Hygiene

Yesterday, my afternoon bus was almost completely full when I got on. I was one of the last people to get a seat. The driver can allow up to 10 people on the bus standing. So the next few stops we picked up a bunch of people.

Naturally when standing on a bus, you reach out to hold something to steady yourself. Now I’ve had to stand on a long journey home before. I grab the conveniently located handles on the sides of the seat. Not Smelly Armpit Man, oh no, he had to stand reaching up, holding onto the baggage rack above me.

I get it, its summer, we sweat. But please for love of all human beings, spray or roll on some deodorant when you leave work. I do. Its the last thing I do before leaving my air conditioned office where I don’t even really sweat. I roll on my deo so no one has to catch even the faintest whiff of me. Its just polite.

Space

(Wo)man spreading. The seats are not big, not small either, but we are not riding a 1st class ticket with extra leg room and champagne to work.

So when you sit down, try not to rub thighs with the person sitting next to you. Don’t try to mash your handbag into the tiny gap between you and me. Put it on your lap. If you are sitting in the window seat, try not lean across the person in the isle seat to greet your long lost friend who is walking past. 

Oh, and if you are in the isle seat and the person in the window seat needs to get off the bus before you, stand the F up and move into the isle. Don’t just swivel your legs to the side and force me to practically sit on your lap to get past. I’m so tempted to fart on the next person that does that.

Noise

There are these amazing newfangled inventions. They are called headphones. You can get them in comfortable, over ear models or even in discreet, in ear models. You even get ones that have a built in microphone in them. The common feature though is that no one needs to listen to your crappy music, horrible canned laugh track sitcom, your grandchild screeching at the top of their lungs or your Very Important work call.

Or your loud, repetitive games. Those especially annoy me. No one wants to hear your rat a tat tat 1st person shooter game or your ching ching ching Candy Crush. If you don’t have headphones then put your phone on silent. You do not need sound to play a game.

Smells (unrelated to personal hygiene)

Hard boiled eggs, tuna, garlic. These are all yummy and delicious foods. But not on a closed bus. Certainly not at 06:45 before people have had their coffee and even worse, at 17:30 after being in your bag for the entire hot, sweaty, summer day.

Just don’t. You can eat before you leave home, or while you wait for the bus to arrive or wait until you get off the bus. But please, I beg you, do not eat your stinky food on a bus where all the windows are closed. Especially if you are practically sitting on my lap or standing over me.

Before getting on the bus

While waiting for your bus, allow older people, pregnant women or women with small babies to sit on the bench under cover. Especially when its raining.

If you really need to have a cigarette, could you maybe walk a few metres left or right of the stop and light up there? You know, away from the elderly people, pregnant women, and the children. If you are really nice, you could even see which way the wind is blowing and smoke down wind. That would be really pleasant.

Oh, yes, last thing. Get your money or your bus pass ready. Seriously, we all need to get to work or home. No one wants to stand around waiting to get on the bus because you insisted on getting on first and now cant pay. Either stand at the back of the line or be ready.

So, yeah, some of my pet peeves that really should just be common courtesy. And now, I’m going to shut down my computer, roll on my deo and I’m going to catch my bus. Wish me luck!

I went to IKEA and it was awesome!

*I was not asked to nor paid to write this post. IKEA is just so awesome I had to document ALL. THE. THINGS!

The #BestBossEver was going to the IKEA food store after work and offered to take us with her. Shani and I decided to make an evening of it and do the whole store.

I made myself a list and was promptly laughed at by everyone because apparently you NEVER stick to your list.

Which  is true. I did not stick to my list. Although I only bought 3 extra things so that’s not so bad.

My list consisted of the following:

An oven glove

A4 boxes

Smaller boxes

A whisk

2 sets of tongs

An egg lift

A pasta spoon

A garlic press

IKEA zip bags

Light fittings for Faith and Aaron

And from the food shop:

Mustard

Herring

Ikea Meatball Sauce

The additional things I picked up were:

A knife sharpener

A flamingo

A frog-pig-monkey 

Start Here

Shani and I started upstairs going through all the various rooms and apartments. It also happens to be the big winter sale, so lots of things were marked down. 

Sale

We took about an hour going through the whole upstairs and then parked our trolley (and Shani for a minute) while we went to the dining area so I could experience the quintessential IKEA meal. Swedish meatballs.

Parking bays
Meatballs

Oh man! Since it was relatively early for dinner, we landed up sharing a plate of meatballs, chips and green beans. We stopped just short of licking the plate clean. For ₪25 for a huge plate of food its almost worth just going there for dinner, never mind all the awesome things to buy.

All done

Once dinner was over we headed downstairs to begin the real shopping.

It took us about an hour to go through the store, find the things on our lists, find things that were on the sale, put things we really didn’t need back on the shelf and check out.

All the things!

We then popped into the food store and grabbed all the yummies.

I really enjoyed IKEA. The whole experience was amazing. I loved the room set ups, so many cool ideas to utilise a small space. And all the nifty gadgets. I could probably spend a fortune in there if I could.

I will definitely be going back since I saw a whole lot of things I would like to get.

Manifestation

When we were first making aliyah, people were slightly horrified that I didn’t have a job lined up for when we arrived.

They were even more horrified when I told them that I would be happy packing supermarket shelves if that was the only job I could get.

Then I was lucky enough to get a job within a month of arriving in Israel and I’ve just passed my 2 year work anniversary with the company.

I have also only just realise, like sitting at the bus stop this morning realised, that I have actually manifested my words from 2 years ago.

You see, I work for a company that price compares products across a variety of supermarkets. My job, specifically, is to make sure that all the data we receive from the various stores is correct in terms of price, quantity and of course, which shelves the products are on in the website.

It only took me 2 years to twig, but even though I may not be physically packing shelves at the local super, I am digitally packing shelves for a variety of supermarkets.

Salutations

One of the things I love about Israel and the Hebrew language is that there is a greeting for everything and everyone greets everyone (well mostly, remember the grumpy old men?)

There are regular, every day greetings, good morning (בוקר טוב – boker tov) and evening (ערב טוב – erev tov).

There are greetings for the beginning and end of the week, good week (שבוע טוב – shavua tov) said from the moment shabbat has ended to the end of Sunday and  shabbat shalom (שבת שלום) said anytime from Thursday through to the end of Saturday night.

Then there are greetings for High Holy days, usually happy holiday (חג שמח – chag same’ach) or the yiddish, gut yontiv (גוט יום־טובֿ – good yom tov). 

My favourite though, is an alternative to good morning. It is usually said as a response to someone who says good morning (boker tov) to you.

The greeting is בוקר אור (boker or) and literally translates to ‘morning light’.

It really does lighten up my day!

27928092742_4cb5f3560c_k

We eat the food, then we do the things.

One of the things we decided when we made aliyah was that we were going to try live as Israelis as much as possible. In particular food. We decided to buy and eat Israeli products as much as we could. 

One, buying imported things is expensive. 

Two, support the local economy.

Three, the kids are growing up Israeli, they need to be comfortable eating foods we may not have eaten in South Africa.

All of this is not to say we don’t eat the same foods we used to eat in South Africa. I’m yet to see cottage pie on a restaurant menu but we often have it for dinner. 

Israelis also tend to eat larger, heavier meals at lunch and smaller, lighter meals at dinner time. We still eat a proper cooked meal for dinner, mostly, this summer we have tried eating lighter, smaller meals at night.

All this brings me to things that we don’t/cant buy here (there is one big store that imports food stuffs from SA and Australia and the UK, but it is hellishly expensive). Things that I miss. Things that I have asked people to bring me and that I hoard and cherish like a certain gold ring.

  • Anita mentioned on Facebook, samp, which I haven’t had in years and now have a hectic craving for. 
  • Along with samp, is a good stiff pap with tomato gravy. You can buy polenta here but its just not the same.
  • Boerewors. I’ve had locally prepared boeries but its just not the same. The meat here is very different to SA and you can tell.
  • Peppermint Crisp. Anybody who visits has to bring me at least 1 slab. 
  • Five Roses Tea. Israeli black tea is rather weak. At least that’s my opinion. I love a good cup of Five Roses. 
  • Biltong. I actually have a biltong maker, I just need to figure out what’s the best cut of meat to use so I can make some.
  • Mrs Ball’s Chutney. I dont even really like chutney but I use to use it for cooking. Maybe I should try make my own…

All in all I think we manage just fine using local products and ingredients. And I don’t really miss anything to point of agonising over not having it. But I wouldn’t say no, if someone gave me any of the above.

43958692_0366863823_o
Photo taken by Paul in 2005 (I cannot for the life of me remember which game reserve it was)

Smile (again)

We are still in summer holidays and the kids are at their last day camp this week (the next two weeks are a whole other story, school only starts on 1st September).

This particular camp starts at 08:00 and ends at 16:00. So I have been going to work early while Paul takes the kids to camp and then goes to work and then I leave work early to fetch them and Paul comes home a bit later. It all balances out.

But, since I leave for work early (06:30 to catch the 06:45 bus), I am not catching my regular bus and driver. And while the driver I do have is very nice he isn’t my happy go lucky regular driver and I’m definitely not getting my usual happy start to the day.

But not today! Today, as I got off my early bus and started crossing the road to get to my office, a bus at the opposite stop honked his horn at me, I looked up and there was my regular driver, madly waving his arm out the window and grinning at me.

Day made!

These two make me smile too!
These two make me smile too! *photo by Paul

Smile

Many years ago, when I first started working, I was given this little nugget of advice, and it’s stuck with me ever since.

Even when you are speaking on the phone, smile. Your smile will be conveyed through the phone and the person speaking to you will hear it and respond in kind.

I’ve noticed, the happier the people around me are, the happier I am.

What really drove (haha) this point home, is my regular morning bus driver.

Every single morning when I get on the bus, he greets each and every passenger with a boker tov (good morning) and nisiyah tov (good travels). On a Sunday morning he adds the greeting sh’vua tov (good week). On a Thursday he wishes everyone a Shabbat shalom before they get off the bus. At the beginning of the month he will add chodesh tov (good month) too. He is always smiling, laughing, having a conversation with the passengers seated near him. He never gets upset at the traffic/other drivers and he plays an awesomely eclectic collection of music.

I tend to start my day with a smile on my face and a spring in my step and it is directly attributed to the awesomeness that is my morning bus ride.

On the odd occasion I take an earlier bus, the driver is usually quiet, mostly polite and will only greet me if I greet him first. My mood for the morning is definitely not as bouncy as usual.

So, when those mornings happen, I try to be the one with the smile, the happy greetings, the effervescent bounce and hopefully my mood will rub off on everyone around me.

'Cause this kid has the best smile ever!
‘Cause this kid has the best smile ever!

I guess what I’m trying to say is, smile dammit!

That time the kids locked themselves out and the bus never came…

Ja, yesterday was fun. Not.

Got a phone call to say that the both the babysitter and Aaron had forgotten their keys so they were locked outside the apartment. I had about half an hour left of work before catching a 30 minute bus home. So I left a bit early hoping to catch the earlier bus. In the meantime it was super hot yesterday so they couldn’t really play in the park until I got home, so they camped out in the hallway/stairwell of our building where at least it was a bit cooler than outside.

Now, I hoofed it to the bus stop with 5 minutes to spare before the bus was due. Except it never came. Turns out the bus before that also never arrived. I know this because at least 3 other people had been waiting for it and now 2 buses never pitched up. So we waited, hoping the next bus would arrived.

Anyone want to guess what happened? 

After 3 buses failing to arrive, we decided to call a taxi. 4 of us, all going to the same place, makes sense, no?

Pomegranates cause my husband takes awesome pictures.
Pomegranates cause my husband takes awesome pictures.

Except the 1st taxi didn’t want to drive all the way to Modiin. And then there were no other taxis.

Eventually a taxi came past and stopped. So 4 strangers took a taxi home together. I got home at 17:55 (instead of the projected 17:30). It worked out well in the end. Driving via taxi is faster than the bus, only took 15 minutes. And because there were 4 of us it wasn’t that expensive, only ₪20 each. Still, it was an extra expense since I have a monthly bus pass and I shouldn’t have had to pay anything to get home.

This seems to happen every time there is a holiday, either school holidays or Pesach/Channukah holidays, my bus in particular decides we don’t need to go home.

I’m really hoping I manage to get home tonight!

Surprise!

A little bit of background…

My brother Matt is graduating with a degree in Government this week. This is a huge deal. he is the only one of the three of us to get a degree.

A few months ago my mom called and wanted to plan a trip to come for the graduation. But it would only be for a few days, we couldn’t take leave, the kids were at school and we decided it was too expensive to come for so short a time. Rather she would come for 2 weeks in December.

Fast forward to last Tuesday. My mom phones me. She is booking a ticket and she is coming on Friday. Don’t tell Matt!

The plan was for me to fetch her from the airport on Friday morning, she would go to fetch the kids from school and surprise them and then Matt and Yana were going to come for supper and walk in and be all surprised. 

Except they already had plans with Barrie for dinner. So I messaged Barrie who kindly cancelled his plans with them (without letting on why) and they could then come to us for supper.

Except now Matt was suspicious. But deny, deny, deny. No, mom is not coming.

To make the surprise a bit bigger, since Matt was already suspicious that she was coming, we hid mom in the laundry room when they arrived and told the kids to pretend Nana wasn’t here. We made mom wait for 5 minutes in the laundry room before walking out ever so quietly.

Yana saw her first and she was speechless. It took a minute for Matt to click and when he turned around there was mom.

image1 (1)

Its been a whirlwind. From getting the tickets to surprising Matt to organising who, where, what and whens. But its been so much fun!

Matt’s graduation is on Wednesday and mom goes back to SA on Friday morning. So a quick trip. But so special to have her here.