Today I left my friend to come stay with Yoram Bar Tal, who is also the brother of Dan Bar Tal a psychologist I have read lots of articles from. Yoram, is 60, he is a professor at Tel Aviv University. Yoram is also on coushurfing. He joined only a couple months ago but has been hosting nonstop. As he explained to me: he has time, and he enjoys people.
It was great to come here. And in one afternoon we already not only had great psychological conversations but we witnessed very interesting events. Once I told Yoram about my encounters with Palestinians he decided to take me to see the neighbourhood nearby the bust station in Tel Aviv. This neighbourhood is where mainly Sudanese illegal immigrants and Arabs live. We drove around, it was night and to be completely honest I did not think it looked so different than some neighbourhoods in the suburbs of Paris. We decided to park and take a walk.
It was really completely different from what I had seen of Tel Aviv before. To start, a junky immediately came to ask me if I wanted crack. I said I did not. He wanted my number. I attempted to say I did not have one here. In the end, I decided to give him my British number as he could not really understand my explanations. We walked away. Yoram was shocked no one had ever offered him drugs before. I was not.. I explained to him that when people looking like us come to a place looking like that it was usually for drugs.
Then we entered the main walking street of this place. It was a different world. First you could see that most shops were either for communication ( cell phones, and Internet cafes) beauty ( hair saloons) or food. The people were predominantly black. Beautiful features. We could not understand the languages. They were probably mainly Sudanese. Every now and then we saw an Arab looking like person. We were definitely aliens there. but no one bothered us at all.
When I entered a shop and walked around a boy came to talk to me in English. He never attempted to talk to me in Hebrew, though he could… that made me think that it is possibly unheard of Jewish people there. He was friendly. I said I was just looking, he told me he just talked to me bc he thought he could help.
We walked a bit more through this complete parallel word when we saw something really very strange: a man dressed in Jewish orthodox clothes. It was what looked like a Hasidic Jewish man walking from shop to shop rolling a little black bag. Yoram was appalled. What was he doing there? We came a bit closer and I could distinctly see this man taking money from a shop owner, and risking his name out of a list. He then opened his rolling suitcase which was full of some kind of jar, and put the money inside of it. Then he proceeded to the next shop.
I wanted to ask him. Ask the shop man but Yoram wisely asserted that it was not a good idea. We would be caught up in the middle of some kind of dodgy activity. No one seemed to mind the man. He was a total stranger there, but the confidence with which he walked demonstrated an enormous familiarity. We did not know what to think. was he selling protection? It felt like a parallel world. Where people are not really citizens, but yet they go about their lives normally. Apparently this is also Tel Aviv.