Double Life – Summer in Tel Aviv

fubiniBy Daniela Fubini*

The trick coming with living in Tel Aviv is that people think it’s a place to go on vacation to, while we, the locals, actually work our nine, ten or eleven hour job like any Israeli and just don’t get the chutzpah of the surfers coming back from the sea when we are still in our office clothes. True, the definition of office attire in Israel is closer to that of beach clothes anywhere else in the world, but still, wearing any type of shoe more structured then flip-flops makes us feel like total losers from late May well into October. On the other hand, we get to roll down to the sea anytime we want, evenings and weekends, and for that we are forever grateful.

Last Saturday the Tayelet, our promenade, was as crowded as a rock concert already at 5 o’clock, and by 7 pm I began to wonder if someone had called a rally and I didn’t know about it. By the looks of it, we have one more week before the big wave arrives, and like every summer the language spoken along the sea line will be switched to French. Then, during the month of August, the only voice speaking in Hebrew that can be heard will be the booming alerts of life guards, shouting to swimmers not to swim, to mothers to come get their lost children, and to children to move away from the dangerous wave-breakers. 

As we all know, the only person on the beach listening to the life guard is the one mother whose child ran after a ball and is now lost. It’s really hard for the lifeguards to catch our attention: monotonous voice, short sentences, same messages repeated over and over. On one of the beaches though, every message begins with a “din-dong” sound, the same used at railways stations. We will soon stop listening to that too, but it is absolutely hilarious for now, to lay on the sand, looking at the soft waves, and hearing all of a sudden the typical sound that makes you jump and run to catch the train. Inverse psychology, I suppose?

*Daniela Fubini (Twitter @d_fubini) lives and writes in Tel Aviv, where she arrived in 2008 from Turin via New York.