“Only In Israel”

During the past six years of living in this crazy little Middle Eastern country called Israel, I’ve experienced all kinds of things, for better and for worse. Some of the things one gets to experience here are so unique that people like to refer to these experiences as OII (Only In Israel). There is even a Facebook group where people share their OII moments with each other.

I assume that some of the things I refer to as OII can actually also be experienced in other places, but the fact that they were experienced by me personally here, and nowhere else where I’ve been, makes them feel unique to my life in Israel. I’ve decided to share here a few of my favorite OII moments from the past years.

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  1. OII is “Are you Jewish?” one of the most common questions I get.
  2. OII do I tell people to show up an hour before the time I actually want them to show up, because I know everyone will be late.
  3. OII, once when I heard someone honk to me from a passing vehicle, and I turned to see who it was, it was a bus, with the bus driver who used to drive the bus I took to Ulpan sometimes, waving hello as he past by.
  4. OII can I see Nachmans pulling up with their vans at a traffic light, trance music blasting from the speakers, them getting out and dancing on the street, passers by joining them from the side walks, until the light turns green and they get back in the car and continue driving.
  5. OII I once had a job interview on the beach, where my potential future boss asked if I wanted to smoke a joint.
  6. OII are all road signs written in Hebrew, Arabic, and English. 1
  7. OII are the English spelling of some street names different depending on which sign I’m reading. Sometimes the same sign can have one spelling on one side, and a different spelling on the other.
  8. OII I can walk home through Tel Aviv in the middle of the night, and see people sitting in cafés drinking coffee, as if they never sleep.
  9. OII, while working in a café, a homeless woman came in and asked for something to eat, and when we gave her a pastry for free, her response was “no, not that one, I like that other one more”.
  10. OII, some of my deepest conversations about life have been with taxi drivers.
  11. OII I’ve seen hills referred to as mountains, and dripping water described as waterfalls.
  12. OII, the whole country shuts down on Yom Kippur. Many spend the day and night walking on the streets, while there are no cars, and all shops are closed. Toddlers play on the empty highways, and people sit on the streets and play cards, or carry out an entire ping pong table.
  13. OII I  furnished half my apartment with things I found on the streets. 4824_109610428658_6137375_n
  14. OII, I walk through Tel Aviv and say hi to all kinds of people that I don’t really know, but still kind of know, through all kinds of random circomstances.
  15. OII do construction workers blast trance music on full volume while they are working.
  16. OII, while working as a waitress, a customer asked me why I was being so polite.
  17. OII, I have gotten in to places just by being blond.
  18. OII, a guy took the opportunity to try and ask me out, while we were hiding in a shelter during a siren in Tel Aviv.
  19. OII, every camping trip requires Shakshuka for breakfast. 1380095_401552089970552_391870181_n
  20. OII I can float on top of the water 425 meters below sea level.
  21. OII my friends are actually more like family.
  22. OII sometimes weekends mean driving in the middle of the night to some trance party in the middle of nowhere, then dancing through the sunrise.

    Photo by Stefanie Diener

    Photo by Stefanie Diener

  23. OII does every single dance party turn into a trance party eventually, no matter how it starts.
  24. OII I expect to have at least one free chazer of Arak with the waiter or bartender whenever I go out somewhere.
  25. OII I get really impressed every time – which is rarely – I see people stand and wait in an actual line.
  26. OII, when war happened in the middle of my exam period at the University, the exam instructions were; “Please write with a black or blue pen. No additional material allowed. In case of a siren, turn your exam paper upside down, and go to the nearest shelter.”
  27. OII, at least twice when a place had only a unisex bathroom, and there was a line, the guy waiting in front of me let me go in before him because I’m a woman.
  28. OII I started to consider 20 degrees Celcius as cold.
  29. OII are pretty much all of my friends girls from different countries, who came here because they met an Israeli guy in some far away corner of the world.
  30. OII, when the only free table in the bar was inside, but we wanted to sit outside in the sun, the waiters carried the whole table out for us, with beers and everything.11173350_10153263121843659_7064299215922977506_n
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