A Wet Lament
(Published in the SA Jewish Times -- October 1996)
When I woke up this morning at the ungodly hour of 8:00, it struck
me, as I peeked out from under my goose-feather comforter, that
winter had finally arrived in Jerusalem. Three months late - even
the weather keeps Jewish time over here! I had long felt the slings
and arrows of profound guilt for rejoicing (privately) over the
unseasonable lack of rain, while the poor farmers rounded up flocks
of Haredim* to perform rain dances over their withering crops.
But, well, I hate the rain. And I hate arriving at work looking
like a soggy fish finger.
This morning, after dressing up in more layers than an overly
modest Eskimo rebbetzin, I boldly stepped outside. The rain was
pelting down and the wind was fierce. And there I stood, clutching
my red umbrella, all five feet and 40 kilograms of me. It was
vaguely terrifying. Suddenly taxis had become as rare as white
rhinos in Siberia. I was at the mercy of the Gods. And, perhaps
because of my previous rejoicing, they were none too kind.
As I shuffled along, I must have looked a rather odd apparition
- two galoshes, a hooded creature with only two eyes visible,
and a hunchback (I'd cleverly put my backpack under my jacket
to prevent it from getting soaked). No wonder no taxi stopped
for me. They must have thought that Quasimodo had made aliyah
and was running amok through the slippery streets of Jerusalem!
Anyway, as I neared the main road, Derech Hebron, with its double
lanes of traffic, I braced myself for the inevitable tidal waves
that would rise up and drown me as I tried to get across. People
will argue till the cows come home that Israel is a civilized
country, but I will argue in return, that a country without a
suitable drainage system, is about as civilized as Mesopotamia.
Because of the absence of these marvels of modern society, puddles
the size of the Nile River line the streets of Israel on a rainy
day. And when a motor vehicle, masquerading as an ocean liner,
sails through these masses of water, any hapless pedestrian within
a 10 meter radius, experiences an immediate and unsolicited baptism!
(If these baptisms were ratified by the Vatican, I reckon I'd
be the most born again Christian that ever lived!)
Well, you'll be relieved to hear that I finally made it to my
place of work, albeit in a rather soaked state, and minus umbrella.
Don't even ask.
After sitting under the hand-blower in the public toilets for
half an hour, emptying my boots into the basin and wiping the
mascara off my chin, I was finally damp enough to return to work.
The weather report tonight said that we're in for more of the
same tomorrow, and for weeks to come. Oh joy! It's time for the
Haredim to hang up their rain-dancing shoes. Let them return once
more to the really serious issues of the day: how to ignore Supreme
Court edicts, crush the reform movement, form coalition governments,
and kasher** giraffes.
Anyway, got to be a realist…I'm off to buy a wetsuit and flippers!
* Ultra-Orthodox Jews
** Make Kosher - i.e. according to Jewish Dietary Laws