Friday, March 14, 2008

Jerusalem Breeds Crazies

Jerusalem: Bus drivers that look like Danny DeVito, and crazy people on those very buses.

This world seems to have everything worked out perfectly. Instead of staying at my friend's beautiful apartment in Tel Aviv last night, I decided to take a walk and catch a shuttle back to Jerusalem - at 5 am. Eh, I wanted to get back to my place, and I had a lot to do. I'm glad I left considering the spectacle I was graced with.

So I got into Jerusalem, and caught a bus back to my apartment. On the ride there, a fairly pretty lady around the age of 40 got on, followed by a massive man, probably about 4 feet wide, literally, aged 30 or so.

She bounded to the seats that are two rows of chairs facing each other. She sat down on the right side of the bus, or rather she jumped into her seat. She popped out of that seat and fell into the window seat, and then fidgeted some more. She stood up abruptly, speaking incoherently to herself, and then switched to the left side of the bus. She sat down on the aisle seat, and instantly sprung up out of the chair, a smile ten feet wide across her tanned face, and threw herself into the window seat. She told the guy sitting across from her, facing her as the chairs are situated, to hold her coffee cup while she got her bus pass from her purse.

"Hold this. Thank you. What's wrong with you?" He had Downs' Syndrome.

She tore through her purse, grabbing item after item.

"Tissue. Tissue! Another tissue, what the hell?!" She was not speaking with an indoor voice. "Hey," pulling out a lighter, "Na," starting the religious chant of a group that follows a certain Rabbi Nachman, a group that has a chant drawing out his name. "Na," pretending to ignite the lighter, "Na, nach..." Almost, smiling no less than 20 teeth's worth. "Nach, nachma!!!" She's crazy! "NACHMAN!" And there she goes folks, she's officially nuts. She lit a lighter while chanting the Breslav Nachman mantra. And just as fast as she went through this, she puts the lighter in her left hand between all the tissues, resuming the rummaging.

"Tissue! What is this?!" Crazy. "Hey," looking at the Downs' Syndrome guy, "how are you?"
No response. Blank stare.
"Hey! Tain li neshika," thrusting her right cheek in front of the guy. "Tain li neshika," darting her left cheek in his face. "Tain li!" Give me a kiss. "Hey, this is my brother. You like him instead? You want to come with us? Come! Now, let's go!"
Fear. Still holding the coffee cup, which probably had anything but plain coffee in it, he began to extend it towards her. Fear. Eyes as open as canyons. No words.
"What's with you? Hey, everybody, what's with him?!"
The man with Downs' Syndrome shoves the cup into her hand, grabs his bag, tears himself from his seat as the bus is still moving, wheels on his right heel, hunched over as we tend to do when rising and turning at the same time, and then is thrown about five feet towards the middle door as the bus driver hits the accelerator. He is propelled like a Kassam into a guardrail next to the back seats.

This sends the woman and her "brother" into hysterics. She abruptly stands, laughing at his misfortune and fear, and starts to pray wildly, rocking back and forth as the religious do. "Ha, did you see that?! Adonay was king, Adonay is king, Adonay WILL BE KING! NACHMAN!"

"Amen," says the brother.
Taking a sip of her coffee concoction, "AMEN AND AMEN!"

She falls into her seat again, still rummaging through the purse for a bus pass. More tissues. She is now holding an entire fist full of Kleenexes. She pulls out a small tube, all smiles, "sniffalee!" Another lighter. A cut straw, "another sniffalee," and a small metal case, "hasamim..." The drugs.

"SNIFFALEE! NA-NACH-NACHMA-NACHMAN! SNIFFFFFFFF!!!" The religious woman couldn't help but turn around and stare, and I was way past caring by this point. This woman is literally screaming, smiling, laughing, all at the top of her lungs, as her morbidly obese brother smiles silently. He does manage to say, "everyone always thinks she's crazy, but she's not! She's my sister!"

"Hey, Driver! DRIVER!"
He smiles, unable to ignore her good humor.
"Hey, what do you think, Driver?"
He smiles.
"Hey! Here's the pass! I told you I had it," looking to her brother, "I TOLD YOU!"
The driver and I exchange glances through the mirror. He is loving it.
"Hey! Oh, oh no! This is us! OK, STOP THE BUS NOW! OK! DRIVER, thank you very much, Driver."

The Danny DeVito look-alike driver stops at a non-designated area, something you never see, and she actually runs off the bus. Runs. Her brother waddles, of course.

This was 6:57 am. Not a bad way to start the day.


Esser Agaroth said...


Um,...Dude?! Which neighborhood did you end up in anyway. Are you still in the "you know where?"

I don't mind guessing, but I thought I'd give you a change to tell us all first.

Israeli by Day said...

Katamonim, Tzomet Pat.

The ghetto.

Esser Agaroth said...

Hmmm...I wonder what you mean by ghetto. Bad neighborhood? When I say ghetto in Israel it generally means an English-speaking [and sometimes obnoxiously trendy] neighborhood like Qatamon.

Israeli by Day said...

Yeah, it's the Sephardi ghetto. In the sense that only Sephardim live here, and the sense that it is poor. It is really poor, as in this is also the area that most of Jerusalem's Ethiopian live in. Not that there is anything wrong with Ethiopians. I like them more than most sabras. They just tend to be on the poorer side of the Israeli spectrum - fact.

Katamon is an American ghetto, just like Mea Shaarim is a religious ghetto, just like Nahalot is becoming a young hippish/yuppy ghetto -- I guess in the sense that a neighborhood has its reputation and style.

I don't mind Katamon or Baka, those areas where the Americans - Anglos live. I'm not living there, but hey, at least I could go there and get a Dr. Pepper if I so desired!

Esser Agaroth said...

I used to be against Amerighettos, but hey, I feel one needs a sense of community. In Israel with a sense of community, I think you can do almost anything.

Can't stand Qatamon, of course I'll probably end up living there,...temporarily, of course.

Don't EVEN get me started on Nahla'ot! < eyes rolling >

I'm a pretty intollerant bastard, aren't I? ;)

Anonymous said...

What is it about this place that drives people crazy. Actually that is not fair. Why are there so many people with loose wiring drawn here, like they think it will get better just by being here.

Of course, I must be a hypocrite because I used to believe it too.


Esser Agaroth said...

It won't get better just by being here.

We should be here. It's where we belong.

Yet, we have "do something," and not just wait for things to happen.

That part is true.