Collection Anal, Penis Street, and More

Trip Start May 19, 2009
Trip End Jun 16, 2009

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Thursday, June 11, 2009

Hebrew can be quite interesting to a person who doesn't speak it. Take for example this conversation I had with a construction worker today. I asked him where Lillienbaum Street was in my textbook Hebrew and this is the response I understood: Hebrew Hebrew Hebrew Penis Hebrew Hebrew. Hebrew Hebrew Penis? Hebrew Penis. Motioning with his hand. Penis Hebrew. Hebrew Penis.

I smiled and nodded. Then I said OK, thanks! As if it were all clear to me what he was talking about. By following his hand directions, we got to where we needed to be.

It turns out: we were meant to go to Pines Street (also spelled Pinnes Street). Either way, it’s pronounced Penis when said aloud in Hebrew.

The day had started with a stroll up Diezengoff Street, in search of a post office. Diezengoff is made for strolling. Apparently, there’s a Hebrew verb "to Diezengoff" which means to stroll up and down this particular street. It’s a pleasant boulevard with lots of shade, upscale shops, small eateries, and fancily decorated recycling stations (the one I took pictures of was decorated with stained glass and other found objects—a bit like a small-scale Watts Tower as done for a green world).

One of the shops was called Collection Anal and had couture dresses in the window. On closer inspection, it was actually Collection Anat, but you couldn’t tell that from looking at the English name of the shop. You could only get the correct pronunciation if you could read Hebrew.

Which I can’t.

At the post office, I had another fun adventure in Hebrew misunderstandings. I had finished putting stamps and airmail stickers on my postcards and was looking around for where I could actually mail them. Unlike a U.S. post office, there wasn’t a drop box inside. I probably could have handed them back to the clerk who had initially sold me the stamps, but she was busy with another customer. Another clerk motions out the door and says something to me in Hebrew. I turn and there are the post office boxes. Yay! I even gave her a big thumbs up sign to show that I understood.

Then I remembered that a thumbs up sign in Israel is the equivalent to the middle-finger salute in America. I played dumb. Rich ran out the door ahead of me.

“What friendly postal clerks,” I thought to myself. Rich had disappeared by this time and I started to post my letters. By the time I finished, he was back at my side explaining that the postal clerk had actually been asking someone to run into the street after a person in a kipa (yarmulke) and motorcycle helmet to get him to come back. Apparently, he had forgotten something in the store and Rich had found him.

So really, the clerk who helped me find the post boxes wasn’t actually helping me at all. I was the Jacques Tati character lost in my own world, posting my letters, while chaos ensued around me. Sometimes ignorance really is bliss.
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