Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Quirks of the two countries

Quirks about Egypt:

- Mannequins wearing hijab (veils)
- Donkey-carts and horse-drawn buggies driven down six-lane highways of congested urban traffic
- Drivers at night keep their headlights off, and flash them only if they're about to hit you
- Drivers will never brake for a pedestrian or for another car, preferring insted to honk or flash their headlights
- City water pipes lay ON the road, where they can easily get smashed, insted of underneath the road
- Some cafes and street vendors swear that falafel (a delicious fava bean patty) is sold only during the morning hours. Others only offer it past 10 p.m. Some say it's off-limits during Ramadan; others say it can only be sold between 3-5 p.m. every other day.
- Garlic-scented hair conditioner
- Streets filled with sheep
- A donkey cart with "Toyota" painted onto the plywood
- Crazy 7-way intersections with bumpy concrete, manhole covers halfway out, pipes exposed, and the thick clog of diesel burning your lungs
- Buses blast loud low-quality "Allah!" music throughout a 15-hour ride. The bus stops occasionally so passangers can pray at rest stops.
- No one checks when you set off the metal detector. And EVERYONE sets off the metal detector. You could probably walk through a metal detector with a gun slung over your shoulder and no one would say a word.

Quirks about Israel

- Half-assed security everywhere: entering a bus station or a restaurant or a sandwich shop requires letting a 19-year-old security guard take a cursory glance at your backpack.
- Peanut-butter flavored Cheetos.
- Push/Pull on doors is totally reversed.
- Our friends' lease, for his apartment in Tel Aviv, stipulated that he COULD NOT use electricity on Friday nights or Saturdays, which are considered to be a holy time of the week (Shabbat). If he's caught trying to use electricity on Friday night or Saturday, he could be evicted.
- Tel Aviv's maze-like six-story bus station, which sells clearance thongs.
- Jerusalem's highly organized three-story bus station, which sells yarmulkes.