Apples from the Desert

Living the high-paced stressful modern day capitalism, we often forget those “small” things in life that are the actual source of happiness and stability – old friendships, human kindness, family ties.
This is one of the reasons why I like going back to my country, where real people with real problems and real loves remind me who I really am, where I come from, and what really matters.

After 5 years of promises, I decided to make the two hour trip (long distance in Israel terms) to visit my longtime (12+ years) school friend, Blondy, in the desert city, Be’er Sheva. My previous encounters with Be’er Sheva were limited to 30 minutes stops on the way to Eilat, Israel’s most southern point and main tourist destination. I was therefore curious to get to know the place better and see how my friends’ life looks like.

start point
On the way
My destination: Be’er Sheva

Blondy and hubby made me feel at home, and we caught up on life and work. Blondy and hubby are a typical Israeli young couple. Recent college graduates. She works as an administrative manager at a nursing home and he is a management trainee at one of the main national banks. Both are doing great. It was interesting to discuss Israeli working culture and see how work problems and management of people are still universal. However, the best thing by far about The Blondies was their cat, Khatulish, a modern cat, who follows all the global trends. He even plays games through his personal pet app on the tablet. I believe that Khatulish is more technologically advanced than me in that. Blondy was commenting about the difficulty that some of her older colleagues are having in learning how to use the PC. I think she should consider using Khatulish as a technical trainer.

Khatulish analysis the situation
Khatulish charges in…
Oh no.. the fish are not real. Must try again!

Given that most people think the entire country is one big desert, one most clarify that the main difference between Be’er Sheva and any other middle class city in Israel is that it has some bedwin presence and if you drive a few kilometers away, you pass all the apartment buildings and shopping malls, and arrived to vast unused sandy plains, dotted with trees and some military bases.

Beer Sheva is also a university town, housing the Ben Gurion University. It is named after Israel’s first prime minister David Ben Gurion who was a big patriot with crazy white hair and a believer in bringing bloom to the wilderness and to his death lived in a cabin in the Negev desert (currently a museum at Kibuttz Sde Boker). As a university town, BS has a vibrance and friendliness about it. There are many bars and restaurants with cool atmosphere, good prices and friendly service. I went to of those bars, called HaSifriya ( The Library), where the waiters all wore nerdy glasses and suspenders and looked liked New York hipsters from Williamsburg. We ate burgers (Blondy and hubby), and typical israeli food (me) to the sounds of Lady Gaga concert playing on the plasma TV, while chatting with our friendly hipster bartender. Yet another example of global trends with local flavor. I like seeing so many of those around the world.

Hipster Bartender
Hummus, Falafel and Kava. What else does one need in life?

The coolest thing I discovered about Beer Sheva was that it used to be a Turkish stop point during the Ottoman rule. Someone got the right mind just a few years ago and they are now restoring the old town, and creating an interesting leisure area of galleries, cafes and nice restaurants, all done in the beautiful ancient style full of arcs and internal courtyards with quaint gardens. I can’t believe someone has not thought about this earlier but also cannot wait to see the area in a few years. In the meantime, the houses already restored look gorgeous. Wish I had money to invest… I love seeing growth opportunities that also bring beauty to this world.

Cool commercial for instant coffee. It says: “He doesn’t have a pretentious foreign name. He is simply delicious”

On my back on the train, aside from the normal update of local politics, I got an interesting advice on real estate from a phone conversation I overheard.

“Trust me, Tel Aviv is the best place for real estate investment. You buy a 1 bedroom apartment for 1.1 million shekels (~$300k) and can rent it out for 5k shekels a month. You will make money every month. Israel is the only place where people still care about buying housing. The rest of the world simply rents. Worst case, you can live there afterwards as it will be in great location”‘.

Sounds like the guy spent too much time in Manhattan, or Rio, or Moscow, or London, etc.,…

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