Sunday, November 28, 2010

Towel Story

The same one-day business trip to Eilat I mentioned in a previous post gave me the taste for a fun weekend there. There is something special about the atmosphere in Eilat, it smells of holiday, relaxation and fun, the closest thing to 'abroad' without passports, borders and duty free. We flew, stayed at the Dan and dined in nice restaurants. The weather was superb, the Red Sea temperature coldish but pleasant, shop windows inviting, life's good.

At this point, I have to make yet another confession: I never bought towels. I don't know where our towels came from, but I certainly did not choose any of them. They were presents from various people/institutions for various occasions. None of them match and many of them are worn and torn. I know that good, hotel-quality towels are expensive, so I decided to do my homework: learn about the 'towel world' and survey the offering of some nearby shops, but who has time for such a grandiose project?

Elat is also a tax free zone, there is no VAT on products sold there. While strolling on the Northern beach, we came across an Arad Towels shop, well known for their quality products. Towels were the last thing I thought about buying in Eilat, but the opportunity presented itself and I decided to go with the flow. The shop was simple but elegant and the shopkeeper patiently explained the differences between the various products. I bought 8 of the most pampering towels in the shop for what seemed to me a small fortune, but still a better price than anywhere else.

By now, we finished washing them and, more importantly, disposing some old towels to make room for the new. I have yet to try the first one, but one thing I already know: plans and projects are good, but also keep your eyes open for opportunities.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Parenting in a Changing World

I'm thinking about the 'gain/lose time' paradigm shift for quite a while and a recent piece of news made me put my thoughts in writing. A 26-years old man stabbed his mother to death and his 38-year old brother to near death because 'they had been pressuring him to find a job'.

When I was only 5 years old, my parents filed a petition with the authorities to let me begin school before I was 6. In line with the contemporary thinking (socialist materialism), this would make me gain a year. Not sure what the repercussions of this move were. Throughout my school years I was always the smallest in class, always had older friends. Perhaps another year would have given me more mental strength to cope with the world, especially socially. With the subjects taught I had no problem, always being among the top pupils in my class.

In older times, youngsters staid with their parents until married. Then came the first shift: until 10-15 years ago, most youngsters were eager to leave their homes and start their own independent life. Nowadays, there is an opposite trend. Youngsters start their 'lives' much later, taking their time to travel, to decide what to do next, to study something they like, to study something practical, to find a real job, to marry and bring children into the world. By this time they are 30 something, almost 40. And where should they rush to? 30 years of commitment and mortgage payback? More work years? There is plenty of that until the new retirement age of 67. (I admire and envy the French protest against changing retirement age from 60 to 62, not to mention their short work week and long vacations.)

Except for a few basic truisms, life and perceptions have changed so much that it's pathetic to think that what worked for us 30 years ago is relevant advice for our children. Does a full time job for a large brick-and-mortar corporation make them happier than Internet-based freelancing? City life and traffic jams or country home and organic tomatoesGovernment and politics or high-tech? Life-long marriage with compromises or excitement hunting? And what's the right balance between volunteering and saving the world, and minding your own business?

Only they can define their own happiness.