shopping at my local Arab corner shop

As I mentioned previously, where I live is in between a Jewish community and an Arab Palestinian community, there is a local Arab corner shop you can buy supplies when most shops are shut on Shabbat.   As I dislike boycotts and think small businesses of all types are important, I sometimes go out and get stuff if I run out of anything at the weekend.

Here is some Marmalade, actually its called ‘orange jam’ and its made in 6th of October city (strangely a real city!) in Egypt.  Jam seems to vary a lot in quality, some is excellent, and some is fruit flavoured liquid sugar.   This particular stuff is really nice actually.

I wanted to make some couscous for lunch using Chicken I had left over from yesterday, but then I realised as I was cutting up vegetables I had run out of couscous, so off to the store, I had to ask the man there (they usually speak a small amount of English) if they had any, he grabbed me a bag, and I gave him 12 shekels.

 

When I got home, I was kind of surprised at the very political (Dome of the rock) packaging!   actually its not really couscous its a similar wheat type product which is I think popular in Africa, however it came out quite nice anyway.

I got some non alcoholic beer, I am not driving or on medication, its just they didn’t have any proper beer.   This stuff was actually quite pleasant really.  Please don’t hate me, real ale clubs!

The previous week I got some of this fruit flavoured malt drink with the branding of a popular beer manufacturer, kind of odd, as was just malt and mango soda to be honest.   A good way of using beer brand names to a mostly Islamic audience I suppose.   Don’t remember now where this stuff was made.

This was a surprise, this box which presumably contains boxes of noodles, is made in Saudi Arabia!   I would of thought the wealthiest Arab state in the world would be exporting food more exciting than this! 🙂

Please “slicha” (excuse) the poor quality of the pictures, I took them discretely on my phone in the shop, don’t think they would of been pleased with me using a camera in their shop!

In all honesty I think there is a lot of similarities between Jewish and Arabic food, especially with humous, pita and falafel being massively popular throughout the middle east, no one can agree who invented it, like politics here in general, but at least the tastes are the same 🙂

Of course the shop has nuts, Turkish delight and other Arabic made candy and usual other things I see, as well as a bakery making their own bread on a ancient squeaking conveyor belt oven behind the counter too!!

It sad and pathetic that the anti-Israel and BDS bandwagon are quick to boycott different food products here, I will write an article on food manufacturing soon and destroy some common myths the west has been force fed.

Shabbat rainbow over Jerusalem

Cycling home from work after lunch at work at about 2.30pm today (Friday 24th February)

Saw this nice sight near the park which is close to UN headquarters at the top of my street:-

Funnily enough, the curve is inverse of the valley that these four apartment blocks overlooks….

 

Jerusalem marathon and dealing with security threats

Whats the best way of getting over a terrorist attack?   Wearing cute rubber wrist bands, twee looking ribbons to put on your jacket, being a Twitter drama queen?   No, none of this nonsense!

As friday was Jerusalem Marathon day, it is a case of just get on with life, no need to cancel anything needlessly.   This meant it was a bit difficult to get to work as the bus services were going to be hugely different with roads blocked off.The day before I saw barriers being put up and large palette loads of bottles of water.

I went to my church for a worship event, the main hall is in the basement of Clal centre in between Agrippas Street and Jaffa Street, but the meeting is on the 14th floor right at the very top, known as the prayer tower, I could open this huge sliding window and get some air and see an amazing view that you can see a large portion of the city, including the new King David harp bridge.   Here I can see right over Jaffa Street in the distance where the bombing was.

Bad luck to anti-Zionist losers 🙂 the event was sponsored by Adidas and the boycotters of Israel who complained the sporting  brand didn’t succeed in ruining the event for anyone! 🙂

As per every event like this, there are police and security to keep the event safe, although it did rain a little (which is a good thing, its is still really needed!)  this was a nice day.   I was at work as normal but I got some things done in our food bank again.   Actually I thank the Lord I was in this place that day due a power cut due to a fault in our building, which I meant I had to manually shut some servers down, there was some equiment damaged by this but is all under control.

This race shows the determination and character of the Jewish people well I think.

Jerusalem roof top exploring

I have always wondered if its possible to go on the roofs of the apartments here.  Most of the time the hatch on the top floor is locked.

Whilst I was watching some films at a friends house, they told me theirs wasn’t.

Curiosity meant I had to check it out and get some pictures…

Yes those are solar panels, almost every block in Israel has them as they run the white cylinder things which run your hot water.  There’s some garden rubbish up here, which is odd seeing its got to be tricky to carry things up the ladder.  I guess it might of been from someone who trimmed a tall tree.

I would like to be Jason Bourne and run along roof tops, that scene from that film set in Morocco has some houses that quite similar to here.

Years ago, some extra footnotes in a bible I had mentioned that people during the time of Jesus dried flax on their roofs or used it for guests to sleep on.  Not sure if there is stuff in the scriptures to prove it, or if there is evidence in archaeology.  Where I live in this area in East Talpiyot part of Jerusalem the flats were built between the 80s and the 90s.

View from here over a school and a small allotment where some residents have some vegetables.

You see a lot from up here!  my house is about 1.5Km away in about the middle in the distance….

Jerusalem Assembly

The weekend before last I went to a different church with a friend, this time to Jerusalem Assembly congregation in Talpiyot.

I ended up not going to my normal church (King of Kings) due to needing to stay in the house as my room mate was coming back and he would not have any keys to get in.

This service was great as Jerusalem Assembly, the service has two speakers, one in Hebrew and repeated in English.  Like some Hebrew only services in other churches you can rent these small radio receiver units, to get a translation, but at this church translations are offered in French, German, Spanish, Arabic and Russian!!

I thought this was quite amazing given the amount of work involved to do this, after the service there was soup and pastries and cake offered and a good chance to meet and chat with different people.   I got see some Israeli believers I work with, as well as other Jewish, Arab and foreign Christians working or volunteering in the land from different congregations.  The word and the worship was really good here.

www.jerusalemassembly.com

The convenience store

If I look at out of my balcony to the right I see the Arab district as I live on the 1949 armistice line.

But aside what typical Middle East journalists say, what is it really like to live in between Jews and Arabs?

Back home in Portsmouth and probably most parts of the UK you have a corner shop, well not always but mostly on a corner, and often run by Asian people.  They are often usually from India, Pakistan or Bangladesh and could be Muslim, Sikh or Hindu.   As Britain’s last defenders of small businesses fight against the mighty retail continent of Tesco and their still aggressive marching in of Express stores, our Asian community serves us well so quick trips no more than a mile away shopping for newspapers, fags, phone credit, sweets and milk and food supplies forgotten from the last big supermarket run can be obtained easily.

Here in Israel there are also convenience stores by both non-Shabbat observing Jews and Arabs.  To be honest I have no idea if some Arab shops open on Islamic holidays or if this frowned upon by local Arab communities.

At the end of my road here in East Talpiyot, just outside of Jerusalem, is a local shop.  My house is on the 1949 Armistice line, therefore just over the threshold into a neighbouring Arab part of Jerusalem.  In most part I don’t see any trouble, I saw the police car blocking the middle of the road once for something. (exactly what I don’t know, it wasn’t in the news at all)    I would be very naive to say there is never any disturbances sometimes though, to be honest I have seen two car accidents in my street this month though.

Here is the shop, behind the tree ahead.  In front to the right is a car tyre place, rear right is a pizza takeaway, on the left of the shop entrance is some garden ornaments (!)   an interesting cluster of different businesses.   Oh, and the back is a scrap yard, I can see a tower of scrap metal behind.  Just next to this place is a field of olive trees, and in the distance are many minarets and mosques.   From my house I occasionally hear the sound of the air drills used for taking the wheelnuts of cars from the tyre business.

When I am in this junction, there is a feeling of uneasiness, that you are in a place you don’t belong, I mean that not in an unkind or bigoted way to Arab people, but from the uncomfortable spiritual atmosphere of a place as this area is heavily shrouded by Islam.

Of course some items are sold which are not available in a conventional Israel store.   A couple of weeks ago I decided to try some (probably not very unkosher of course, and big surprise – imported from Brazil) corned beef.  This meant my dinner was made using a screwdriver and some pliers, as the wretched key broke off the top and tin openers don’t work very well with square tins.  Oh well 🙂

There is a bakery in this shop at the back so I can get pita bread and cake here, there is only a few products I can see with just Arabic only labels on them.  Incidentally, the Palestinians seem to be very good at making candy, I see boxes of sweets (sold individually) favourites like Turkish delight, Havah (which I think its made of ground up almonds) and some nougat type stuff which is all made by a company in Nabulus.

I think only one of the staff speaks English at this shop, but I have picked up a knack of using gestures (which is a common thing anyway amongst all cultures in this corner of the world) when need to convey what I am buying once at the counter.

Today when I got some milk and bread, the Arab teenager who served me and his friend in the shop had some large scars on their faces that looked like that had been caused by a knife.   I think there is a lot of violence goes on between Arab people in parts of the world like this.   Domestic violence and partner abuse happens quite a lot in Muslim families in the UK but isn’t spoken about much.

The district of Arab Al Sawahira if you turn left at this junction.  The bus I get to work when it rained or if I have my bike fixed goes around this junction.  Beyond this shop, I think the separation wall is another 2kms from here which separates East Jerusalem.

Its sad that often when there is a terrorist attack like 9/11, 7/7, etc, the local Asian or Arab businesses in the UK may be the first people to get blamed with threatening behaviour or vandalism as if they are responsible.  As a Christian, in the UK I think we should pray for our Asian and Arab shopkeepers that their businesses continue to serve well our communities, and that one day they are touched by the true love of the Lord.   Here, there is always the worry from violence from these sorts of places but through my church or friends, or first hand, there are Arab people who have found Christ, and as a side effect of this, have genuine love and compassion for the Jews.

Worship event on the Haas Promenade

The Haas Promenade, close (1.5km uphill from my house) also known as the peace park had a special event on the sunday before last.

A worship event was on with several churches and Christian organisations jointly together.   There was a speech by the Mayor of Jerusalem, and one of the city’s chief Rabbis, and this was filmed on God TV.  There was speakers from different Christian charities here and also a few Arab believers too.

This was a really good event, although I had to leave part way through, as it overlapped with the normal service at my regular church at 6pm.

Power cut in Talpiyot

On wednesday when working at our food bank warehouse in Talpiyot we had a power cut.

Quite sudden, I was working on setting up a server on my work bench which suddenly went off.  It wasn’t running anything important.  A repeated beeping came on from the various UPS (battery back up) units around the building.   One of them I rebuilt myself as the batteries were old and no longer functioning, each of the cells has a life span of 3 years or so.   I am glad I did now.

With multiple circuits around the building, with the sockets labeled for computer use, it seems everything went to plan, apart from the lights going off in my workshop (one of the only rooms with no natural light)  and the video intercom system on the front door.  I had to manually power down the servers and tell everyone to quickly save their work and shut down their PCs.  Meanwhile our giant walk in freezer had its own battery system, so no food that was to be supplied to the poor got spoiled.

After the utility company was called, we were told there could be a wait of 2 hours.  I think the power outage ran for about 45 minutes, this meant the electric water heater built into a water bottle dispenser was still hot enough to get two cups of tea each.   Once the power came back on, I manually powered on four PCs in my workshop and the two servers and all seems to be fine.    Oddly enough, some switches and routers were still blinking away protected with a shoebox sized UPS but we had no internet connection, although I could ping our router.  It seems during the hotter months, more people have their air conditioning on and the electricity supplier may not be able to cope.   It seems all companies I have seen in Israel all have UPSes on PCs and critical equipment, often see them underneath a cash register in a shop.   If this sounds like a big concern, now that I have been here a year, this is the first time I have seen a power cut at one of our offices.

I want to look at means of monitoring our bigger UPS units remotely, we have some APC and some lesser brand units, so I can see sources of problems from my main desk.

Saturday afternoon cycling and robots

When I was a child, I had this dream where I was in a playground and all the other children had run off out of the school, I wasn’t sure what they worried about, I turn around and there is an evil robot coming towards me.  It was a weird nightmare I had a few times…

Today I decided to take a ride around my neighbourhood of East Talpiyot in other direction away from Jerusalem city centre.  I head to a convenience store and get a bottle of Fanta and ride back along the main road, towards the food bank which I work there typically one day a week. Anyway I am riding my bike across a junction where there are some traffic lights and I see a policeman stopping a coach and talking to the driver, he doesn’t see me and I ride past him, in the corner of my eye there is a policewoman and a police Ford Focus stopped diagonally at the traffic…    Then someone yells at me STOP three times….  At the same time I hit the brakes when I see what is ahead of me… If you can’t see anything, look closer at the taller white railings.  There is a garbage bin with usual piles of old clothes spilling out like I see on most street corners and about 15 metres ahead is a bomb disposal robot with caterpillar tracks and a single arm is analysing the piles of clothes…. I turn around and head to the opposite side of the road, the police don’t seem to be cross that I didn’t notice this road block. I get some pictures.   The robot is partially concealed by the barriers in the road. Apart from my childhood nightmare turning into a reality, this experience didn’t worry me too much, there are all kinds of circumstances where items abandoned in odd places start a security concern and procedures have to done to see if there is a genuine threat.   Its just I often see piles of rubbish falling out in bins like this. I talk briefly to two men sitting on a bench, its seems quite funny.   I take a detour to another street to go south towards out of Talpiyot. Another 5kms or so down the road, and this is a nice view of a very new housing estate, my maps tell me this is called Homat Shmuel. A little bit further and now I am completely out Jerusalem and I can see the border with the West Bank.

Border controls.  I take a U turn and head back on the main road.

This sign seems interesting.  This is pointing the another biblical place, seemingly named after a king who was famous for killing babies.  This adventure is for another day as I have no water left and ought to get back.

Just before going home, I did see these ruins which look Roman looking, from standing in Derech Hevron Street.

Riding to work – commuting Jerusalem style Part 1

first bit –  second section –  Third and final

I thought I would mention a bit about my commute to work.

My house is in East Talpiyot, is 6km (4 miles) from work, I got a bike not long after my return from the UK in March.

I have had to commute distances before in previous jobs, when I started working for the Southampton NHS trust (for non-UK people, a hospital authority) to start with, the drive of about 26 miles was hell, due to heavy traffic and the maddeningly complex lane system around Southampton.  After getting a Tomtom unit and planning a different route and fair bit of practice, this journey got easier, after a couple weeks I really started to enjoy this job, and my boss gave me some assignments to do in other parts of the city (there were about 100 different buildings to be visited between a team of about 8 of us)   I think this was God telling me to be more persistent with things.   Plus after a couple of months of this role all the roadworks was complete, giving me more time to get in.

Here though, I am on two wheels which might seem dangerous given the more er, ‘energetic’ Israeli style of driving here, but in general riding around isn’t too much problem as I use the pavement and just keep an eye out for pedestrians. Right: Out of my flat

This junction here doesn’t look much, but I actually have a archaeological site 100 yards from my house. The Talpiyot tomb. I have looked around and I can’t actually see this place, I have a feeling its probably hidden one of those electricity type shed things to the left.   There are steep steps down from this junction, so it could be under the road.
Up a hill, then down.   Then up.   A sneaky short cut up this hill to the right.

Good morning UN!   The United Nations building used to the headquarters of the British Mandate of Palestine (pre 1948)  Apparently looking at this location on a map, shows this place during biblical times was called the ‘Den of evil council’ (!)
I then cut to the right where this white car is:

The promenade!!  You get some amazing views from this place!!   Today it was a bit misty though, I am not sure how you get fog in a dry desert country but visibility in mornings is often like this.

Ride along this path.

Another sneaky shortcut, to the right takes a few minutes off…

first bit –  second section –  Third and final