Style and Fashion: While we are enjoying relatively cool weather for July (not much over 30 C), most bomb shelters have no AC. Residents in the coastal areas (Nahariya, Akko, etc.) must also endure terrible humidity. Most communal bomb shelters smell moldy. Add to that the smell of sweaty, nervous people, and the three-pack-a-day downstairs neighbor (who is oblivious that he reeks of stale smoke), and you have a less than pleasant environment. As for fashion, we are not the most stylish people at the best of time. Now, we must balance comfort with decency, which is not always easy. If you live in an older building and have only seconds to run down eight flights of stairs to the communal bomb shelter once the sirens goes off, how do you prepare? Do you leave your shoes on all the time?
I am lucky. Newer construction requires that all homes have a security room. Since we are on the ground floor, I’m in a fairly safe place without ever leaving the house. No fashion worries for us! However, the endless nervous snacking catches up with me, as I realize that I can barely squeeze into any of my suit pants. (My clients in Tel Aviv tactfully refrained from pointing and laughing.)Daily Instructions: Every news broadcast repeats the instructions for what to do if you are inside, if you can’t get to a shelter, if you are outside, if you are in your car… I guess driving along and having a ketusha hit your gas tank would not be a good idea.
Solidarity in Business: While the big winners are probably Osem, Elite, and Strauss (snack, chocolate, and ice cream manufacturers), other companies step up to offer special services to residents in the north. All cellular providers slash rates or offer free SMS (text messaging) so that people can stay in touch. The phone company offers two months of free high speed Internet access for anyone not already connected. It is great PR and they don’t risk much, as we already enjoy one of the highest per capita rates for home Internet use. The tax authorities announce that we can postpone paying income tax for several months to compensate for business down-time.
Food, Food, and More Food: A friend reports that Gidi Gov, one of Israel’s old-time rockers, appears on TV showing people how to cook in their bomb shelter. (“Remember, you can’t use gas in a bomb shelter, so only cook on an electric hot plate!”) He helps a family make a tasty meal of pita, tuna, and canned vegetables. Yum. Meanwhile, Nadine has discovered the joys of garlic-dill soft spreading cheese. Her eyes bulge as she devours the better part of one individually-wrapped triangle. The food calms her. As the sirens go off three times during the night, I keep patting her and assuring her that it is just noise. She blinks at me and meows for more cheese.
Oh, That Whacky CNN! “It is Karmiel with a ‘k’, not a ‘c’!” mutters a friend. “And can someone please tell CNN that we aren’t an Arab village?” While I doubt that CNN actually made such a gaff, there are plenty of errors in the news. Usually they are aggrevating, but sometimes there is some (unintentional) humor. The local reporters are often a source of amusement, but they do it to keep our spirits up. “Emergency in Kiryat Shemona!” says one wit. “They haven’t delivered any of the latest Toto forms!” (Toto, a lottery game based on guessing the league status and scores of national soccer, is clearly a serious matter!)