In the Middle of the Night

   Horoscope said I’ll be doing some travelling this month. So, went to Rehovot for a job interview.

  Took the 274 up the road from where I live. A great bus, the 274; brought me exactly where I needed to go, and I enjoy the Rehovot-Nes-Tziona area (Hashfela) very much, especially now, with all the green peeping from between the buildings. I like the way it is still an open area, not completely urban. There is this feeling that if I had the time to look I would be sure to find a field with lots of little flowers – effortlessly creating that naïve back-to-nature feel that marketing people work so hard to achieve.

   I was planning to take the bus back the way I came but several yellow “sherut” taxis stopped at the bus station while I was waiting, and after beating off two I jumped aboard the third. The problem, of course, was that these guys take you to the Tel-Aviv central bus station, that big chaotic other-worldly place most people prefer to avoid. I am not a patient person, what can I say. I thought I’ll beat that terrible place, take control of it somehow, rather than become submerged.

   I did try to negotiate a stop somewhere before we reached the big behemoth, but it turned out to be impossible so I walked right in, and that is when my forecasted travelling started, though I think ‘tripping’ would be a better term for it. This place is like no other. It opened to the public in 1993, only 22 years ago, but it feels like it has a much longer history, and a twisted one at that.

   The place it sent me to most was “Midnight Express”. Do you remember that film? A very dark feature film that came out in 1978 – directed by Allen Parker – and which gave Turkey a bad reputation. It has that oriental feel of dark alleys leading to, probably, other dark alleys. I walked up and down several staircases which had not been cleaned in a decade and were very very unlit.

   My mind was wandering, imagining where this particular staircase would lead. Perhaps to a congregation of pink balloons, goading each other to join a sing-a-long in honour of the illusive king of the night. Or perhaps I will be faced with Frenchmen who had just fled their country, dreaming to set up a chic deli right here, in this dark hole.

   Then I bumped into an "installation". A product of misguided artistic endeavor was lying on the floor in the middle of… the floor. It was made of about-10-centimeter-wide black plastic tubes designed to look like a giant nest. A note explaining this thing foretold the context viewers might have for it. The creators were striving for expectancy on my part, curiosity, and had not foretold my unusual state of mind.

   All I wanted was to get home. My aim was to find the bus that would take me out of there. So I asked at the Dan information center who then directed me (very reluctantly) to the Egged information center, who then directed me right back to the Dan center.

   By this point I knew better than to stand in line again and wait for the blonde inside to demonstrate how uncooperative she can be. Instead I walked along the doors that led to various buses standing outside, ready to depart. I figured I’d just board anything that goes north.

   It took a while, but I made my escape and am safely ensconced in my apartment. Still I have, embedded in my post-trip psyche, fragments of images lacking an appropriate context. One of them is of what looked like yet another artistic ‘installation’, this time made of a wall covered with fake books, with three human-like figures sitting absolutely still right next to it.

   I arrived at it after going up yet another dark staircase. The installation looked cheerful so I approached it gingerly, feeling perhaps a little unprepared for more hallucinatory stuff. But it wasn’t, it was real!

   There were real books on that wall, and a woman was sitting absolutely still reading one of them. The other two still figures were of homeless men, asleep. In the middle of this alternative reality scenario a woman sat with her feet up on a chair, motionless and engrossed in a book.

   Ha!