Friday, September 12, 2008

The Good, the Slow, and the Ugly

When I moved to Pardess Hanna from Ra'anana back in '97, I was looking for a quiet place to live that was close to a train station. I also really wanted to get away from Ra'anana, the Israeli town most striving for 100% foliage. I preferred the barely 50% of Pardess Hanna, with it's potholes and the 65 percentage ness of it's population – the other 35% being registered with the Social Services for one reason or another. I wanted the ethnic mix of Ethiopian, Georgian, Russian, the lifestyle mix of Hippy, Yuppie, Arty, Spiritual, Ordinary, the local mix of Arabs, and Born and Bred Moshavaniks in their many shapes and colours. I even liked the people who just wanted to live near a train station, that way evading the necessity of selling their souls to afford a mortgage. These eleven years have been an eye-opener for me.

I have witnessed over 20 Open House weekends - when artists from around here open their homes to show their art, to one and all. We've had I don't know how many shiksuks - markets of everybody's old junk that nobody else wants. I have joined action groups, and watched them dissipate. I have bought organic from a co-op without the help of plastic bags.

Pardess Hanna-Karkur has and continues to change and grow non-stop. In the years I've been here, many many filled potholes ago, some roads have been completely re-surfaced, pavements have been paved, traffic islands have been created – some of them admittedly over and over again. We still have no traffic lights or blue-and-white marked parking. People sometimes forget that they are supposed to keep to a particular side of the road. Road names have actually been put up on street corners, enabling us to give directions in normal fashion, quite unlike the directions given when I first moved here like "turn right when you see the old men on the corner playing backgammon". Houses are being built on every available spot, new neighbourhoods too.

I look around me and I think – am I going to find myself in a shabbier version of Ra'anana soon? All the fields gone? Will the local population stop driving at most 30km/hr, stopping completely in the middle of traffic circles when there is nobody behind them - to allow you to merge with the "traffic"? When you walk into a shop that doesn't know you, and discover that you've left your purse behind, will the owner still just write down your debt on a scrap of paper, no phone number required? Hell - people still hitchhike around here.

When my daughter was a baby (she's eight now) I was out shopping when it started pouring with rain. I was trying to maneuver the baby, the umbrella, my bag and my car keys – oh, and myself – into the car. From way across the road – a wide and busy one at that, a man without an umbrella, getting into his own car, saw me. He crossed the road, took the umbrella from me, held it over our heads while I got myself and the baby into the car. He then handed the umbrella back to me, rain still pouring down on him, and went off on his way.

I hope to think that despite this growth spurt Pardess-Hanna-Karkur is going through, the essence of this wonderful place will survive. If you look at the expressions on peoples faces around here, you will see openness, an expectation of good from others. Give me this 50% dump any day. Somehow I think that whoever moves here will have a very hard time changing the very good vibes of this Moshava. They may just find themselves falling in love with an ugly and messy place and eventually calling it home.


Scarlet said...

Beautiful blog, beautifully written :) I felt like I was there.


Anonymous said...

Thanks. It came after much drooling

Marc said...

My partner and I thought about looking for a house in your neighbourhood, but I decided that it was too far from my work. We did drive through once for another reason and I wasn't so impressed, but Stav reassured me that we had not passed through the 'good' part of town.

There is nothing like find a place to call home.