Saturday, April 09, 2011

old friends

I've been going out lately to local events with women at least a decade older than me.  I always take pride in the fact that I can hang out with people from anywhere in their mid-twenties to senior citizens.  My thoughts are that if we're interested in the same cultural things (eating in fine restaurants counts as cultural to me), then we can enjoy each other's company.

I thought I'd have a fun time with a woman who travels with me on the bus to Jerusalem most mornings to the Jerusalem Old City Tastes Festival.  We decided that since she is kosher, we'll go to the Jewish quarter to eat, but at least go to see any entertainment in the Christian, Moslem and Armenian quarters.  The local rabbis had been furious about this event because non-kosher restaurants were featured  but I was thrilled because we were putting all the residents of the Old City on equal footing - no sector will be left out.  We first went to the Christian quarter and saw that it was unlit, with a juggler wearing a baker's hat and a few darbouka drummers.  That's it?  Other people wandered around also disappointed that there was no festive atmosphere and we saw only three people sitting outside at the local restaurants.  It could be the cool weather that kept people away, but it could also be that because of rabbinical pressure, the municipality toned down the entertainment in the quarters which didn't feature kosher food.  We walked to the Moslem quarter, passing my favorite bakery Jaffar, which was closing for the evening, and a few restaurants which had the festival's sign out in front (stating clearly that this was not a kosher establishment), but there was no sign of a festival anywhere (although I did read that outside the Damascus gate there was some entertainment).  We walked to the Jewish quarter and by that time my friend's foot began to hurt.  We slowed down. We finally got to the Jewish quarter passing by homes which belonged to Arabs who were watching the scene.  I stopped in front of one man standing outside his home, which I mistook for a mini-mosque because of the photo outside his home adorned by multi-colored paint.  "No, this is a home. We painted it like this because of the Haj (pilgrimage to Mecca)".  "You went to the Haj?" I asked.  He nodded.  "Mabruk!!!" He was happy that I knew what the Haj was.  I mentioned to my friend what a missed opportunity the old city of Jerusalem was for intercultural friendships. Everyone keeps to their own neighborhoods.  We ordered some food from the stands, watched Japanese tourists dancing to a Moroccan band dressed in caftans, and by that time, my friend could hardly walk any longer.  We managed to get a taxi at a reasonable price to drive us home.  A bus wouldn't do.

The next event I went to with a friend - also around 10 years or so older than me - was the Arabesque belly dance performance at the Jerusalem theater.  She is always reliable so when the time came for us to meet and she wasn't there I worried.  I called her and figured she's on her way and doesn't want to speak on the cellphone while she's driving.  A half an hour later, the place was filling up and still no sign of her.  I saved her a seat and by the time the performance began, people who were standing on the side took over her seat telling me they'll get up when she comes.  She never came. I ended up with another older friend whom I recognized from the time when I used to go Israeli dancing and she pulled me up to belly dance with her on the side.  I moved my hips and arms, trying to emulate the dancers in their beautiful outfits.

The next morning my friend called to apologize.  She went to take a nap an hour before and ended up sleeping for four hours instead of one.

One has to be patient with senior citizen friends.  They may get everything at half price but they suffer more from pains and tend to oversleep.  I figured I may need to lower the age of my friends for the next time I go out.

But that night I couldn't sleep because of severe shoulder pain.  I tell my friend who called that I'm on my way to the doctor because of this pain.  She understands, of course, and invites me to see a movie with her as compensation for the missed evening.

"Sure" I said. "providing I feel better by Friday..."  -which it hadn't.  I'm wondering whether my older friends wouldn't be better off going out with some younger people themselves.  And perhaps I should be getting stuff at half-price too, since I am suffering like any other senior citizen with their aches and pains....


Anonymous said...

so sorry to hear you were having pains. btw, what constitutes older?? my English birthday this Sunday, 66, and I do NOT FEEL OLD!!! or older - let me know next time there's a belly dancing performance!


jerusalemgypsy said...

yeah, I overdo it at the gym...