Double Life – Noise

fubiniBy Daniela Fubini*

When written words are your line of business, but most of your day is spent among people (in my case, on a rather long commute and in a small but highly interactive office) you have two options in front of you: either you embrace the noise or you look for quiet – actual silence is not a possibility, that’s for sure.

Embracing the noise is a very Israeli thing to do, and I am sure that some day I will be able to do it, and go with the flow. For now, I observe. As opposite to my previous Italian life, where close to 100% of the population spoke some kind of Italian, maybe with a strong regional accent, but still Italian, in Israel the noise comes in the form of voices speaking several languages.

When I sit in my train to work for example I can hear mostly Hebrew, Russian, French and the random English (usually a bit louder than any of the other languages). And since even my passive hearing can absorb each of these languages with the exception of Russian, I learnt that my commute is happier when wearing headphones, preferably connected to a radio broadcasting music without words. What I just wrote makes me realize that a language almost missing on my commute is Arabic. But I make up for that by working in an area close to the University, where an overwhelming majority of the young people walking on the street and having coffee at the corner’s cafè speak Arabic as mother tongue and a perfect Hebrew too. So that places me back into the Middle East.

And while I am still not very successful in my quest for quiet when I need to focus and write, or simply think, I have become an expert in finding obscure YouTube music channels that I change as often as socks, because here is one thing I learnt: even music after a while turns into noise. And when that happens I give up and start playing with the words I hear in a language I don’t understand, trying to catch meanings or guess the grammar connecting the words. Life in a multilingual country is never boring.

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