Friday, May 28, 2010

Oradea Jewish Baby Boomers Reunion

A former colleague whom I appreciate for her social skills once told me that reunions are stupid. People you want to keep in touch with, you do anyways, and those you don't, it is probably for a reason. So what's the point? To see how everybody got old and fat? Nostalgia for a younger you? And what's the role of reunions in the age of Facebook and Twitter? With these questions unanswered and despite being way out of my age group, I went to the Oradea Jewish Baby Boomers reunion, held yesterday May 27, 2010 at the Metropolitan hotel in Tel Aviv. It is being organized once every few years, and attended by a different mix of people from many different countries.

As expected, I didn't know most attendees, saw some acquaintances, and had a blast with the usual comment I get at such occasions. Many people there knew my parents and me as a little girl. They look at my name tag (with my maiden name on it) just to make sure I am whom they think I am and say: "You haven't changed a bit since I last saw you, when you were five". I swear I get this comment every single time, and yesterday I  got it more than once. Some add "you have the same face, same curly hair". One sleazy guy went even further with "I was already in love with you when you were five, but didn't say a thing as they'd think I'm a pedophile". Answered the ubiquitous "where did you live in Oradea?" and "where do you live now?" ad nauseam, exchanged phone numbers and email addresses, had some photos taken, chatted with some women around the desserts, all in all a pleasantly spent 3 hours.  Even volunteered to start a Facebook group based on the list of emails I'll get from the organizers. (Today I discovered it's impossible to find friends on FB by hometown).

Towards the end, Dan came from a nearby event he attended, to join us on the way home. After amazing some people there with his Hungarian knowledge, he concluded the event: "everybody there is connected to everybody else in a way - like in a giant spaghetti". How true. If someone would map the relationship between the people there, it would really look like a giant graphical spaghetti showing your connections to people from the neighborhood, the Jewish community, school, the famous 'choir', through someone else...A very special bunch of people sharing the memory of our beautiful hometown and its post-WWII Jewish life, dispersed all over the world, speaking Hungarian, Romanian and at least one or two other languages.

There was this special feeling in the air that even though you don't know many of the attendees personally, you all share a common heritage, something an outsider would find difficult to understand.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Less Is More

I was invited to a wedding reception - coffee and cake at 7:30 PM - an unusual combination of the time of the day and food served. Coffee and cake is perfect around 5 PM, but 7:30 is dinner time. After the Tiramisu (see my previous post) I had after lunch I could not even think of more food that day, let alone something sweet. All I had was a cup of coffee, so for me it was in fact perfect.

A usual wedding reception consists of a 4- or 5-course dinner and there is usually way too much food. Same is true for many other types of social gathering. It's time to start a trend of health food in moderate quantities at parties, receptions, etc. Although Israeli hotel breakfast buffets are well known for their abundance and eating frenzy, the breakfast at the Dead Sea hotel I last visited started to show signs of refinement. 

People also have too many cloths, bedding sets, towels, and stuff in general. It's immodest and I disapprove it. 

Less is more.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Other Stomach

Since Tom won't be at home for Shavuot, I decided to make a few dairy dishes this weekend. My favorite food blog (now also in English!) offered two items I decided to try: chickpea pancakes with honey and goat cheese (made this for breakfast) and Tiramisu in individual bowls (for dessert after lunch). I also plan some baked mangold-cheese croquettes. I recently had some in an interesting Jerusalem restaurant, where they call it Swiss chard pancakes, and decided to try my own. So far I had no luck finding good recipes of this dish on the net, so feel free to forward me your own.  Shameless promo: Stay tuned to find out what was I doing in Jerusalem and about my relationship with this city. Unfortunately (or not), this weekend Peter also decided to bake his excellent cocoa kuglehupf  - see the proof on the left. 

OK, so we weren't really hungry this weekend. Here we are sitting at the table after a BBQ lunch and me asking what I thought to be a hypotethical question: 'Dessert now (this is the hypothetical part) or later with coffee?'. 'Now', say both my soldiers, after some kebabs in pita, with hummus, pickled lemon tahini, green salad, and a steak. 'Where do you have room for dessert after all this?' 'In my dessert stomach', comes Dan's nonchalant answer.

No matter what we just had, in some miraculous way, there is always room for dessert. Maybe we all have another, dessert stomach?

Monday, May 10, 2010

Up and Down

We have just started to recover from the US sub-prime crisis, low dollar and decreasing stock values. The first quarter of 2010 looked so optimistic (too good to be true as the Polish would say). Now the Greek crisis and its impact on the Euro is the next hit. On the other hand, we are joining the OECD. We work hard to attain the good things (OECD), while we get the bad ones effortlessly. The world just throws them into the equation without consulting us first.

The comic moment: Lebanon broke Israel's Guinness world record for the largest hummus plate and then went for the falafel.

Boring it is not.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

In and Out

As my blog tagline indicates, change and transformation fascinate me in general. The way the new replaces the old in nature, in our lives, in technology, medicine, art, all over, preoccupies me.

I think a lot about changes in life. Not those abrupt ones than happen suddenly (they really frighten me), but those smooth ones we don't notice happening until one day we realize they happened. Once important parts of our lives evaporate, as we take up new activities, meet new friends, move on.

We all had friendships triggered by circumstances (people we befriended while living in a neighborhood, at work, during army service, school, university, gym, art class, you name it), that ended with the changes in circumstances (moving to a different neighborhood, starting a new job, finishing studies). Circumstantial friendships are an important part of our social life, alongside our true, lifelong friendships, occasional encounters, superficial relationships, family. Their coming and going is part of the continuous change in our life.

People we were close to in previous periods move away from us as their lives and priorities change too. Maintenance needs more resources than we care to invest and the relationship empties out. We realize there's been months/years since we talked to/met such-and-such. And then one day we ask ourselves what exactly do we have in common with this person? And the usual answer is 'not much'.

So what affects who goes and who stays? The equation seems to be 'the stronger the initial bond, the more we are willing to invest in maintaining the relationship'.

Full disclosure: this post was inspired by my own friendship with M and by this post.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Democratic Thought

You know those criminals you sometimes hear about in the news and you wish the powers-to-be just take them away and punish them on the spot, no courts, no judges, no lawyers? Actually, you don't really want that to happen because you don't want to live in a country where such things happen. Believe me, I tried. Not fun.