Friday, December 29

Meet You in Miami

Before we started our annual winter pilgrimage to Switzerland, we used to go to Miami, Florida.
Mr Kasamba and I will always be partial to Miami because we met there.
It’s so nice to go on vacation and meet new people.

Sixteen years ago, when Artichoke was not yet two and Asparagus was only a few months old we journeyed south to that place of the turquoise architecture for winter break. Being as we wanted some semblance of a vacation (as much as one can have with two babies in tow) we shlepped along a lovely Bais Yaakov girl who was to help us diaper, burp and feed the little ones. That particular vacation did not have a good start. Our flight was delayed so long that we only arrived at the (now defunct) Kosher hotel at two in the morning. Now here is where things got interesting.

I remember climbing out of the cab, absolutely exhausted, with one arm holding Asparagus and her baby bag and the other arm holding Artichokes little hand. Mr Kasamba was at the back of the car helping the driver to unload our suitcases. Suddenly, two black youths (isn’t that how they always describe them in the paper?) jumped out at us and started grabbing at our luggage. It all happened so fast but at one point when one of the ‘youths’ wrestled with me for Asparagus’s baby bag, we locked eyes. His pupils were so dilated it was like looking into two empty dryer drums.

Our lovely Bais Yaakov maidel reacted in a way that would have made Soro Schneirer proud.
She screamed at the top of her lungs, “Hashem, Hashem” over and over again; except it sounded more like
“ Haaa- SHHHem, Haaa- SHHHem”.
I was so pleased she was there, because there’s nothing like a good G-d fearing girl to help in a crisis.

The criminals, who probably never had a chance and were never given love or education, grabbed what they could and ran into a waiting car.
By the time Mr Kasamba got in the hotel and called the police, they were already in ‘hot pursuit’ of said vehicle. The Fuzz arrived to the hotel within minutes and said that as me and my cohort had gotten a good look at the ‘perps’ we would have to identify them where they were being detained. So they asked us to go in the back seat of the police car. I must say that I was a little disappointed that they didn’t help me to get in by pushing my head in. I thought things were a little weird when we were given a three car escort, but as the Miami Dade police gently explained to me, there are certain areas in Miami that the police do not venture with less than four cars, full of gun toting cops.

We arrived to a scene reminiscent of Dante’s Inferno. There were bunches of tall nondescript apartment buildings with what looked like thousands of people, hanging out of every available window and door. They were using language loudly that was not at all complimentary, but I had to give them points for creativity. I was so happy that Miss Bais Yaakov could not understand what the throbbing masses were screaming. We had to leave the safe confines of the police car, (Goodness, those things are squashy) in order to get a good look at the guys who robbed us. I recognised the guy with the black eyes right away, but neither BY girl or I could be 100% sure about the other guy. The cops kept trying to help us make unbiased decision by saying, "Doesn’t he look guilty to you?” and “Maybe try looking closer?”. But, since neither of us was certain, we couldn’t in good faith have him locked away for something he might not have done. Like children giving up ice cream cones, the Law very, very reluctantly, let him go.

Then the police drove BY girl back to the hotel to help Mr Kasamba with the kids and I was driven to the station to give a statement and to get our luggage back. The Miami Dade police station is really nice and not grimy or slimy at all. As far as the people who pass through it, well, you can guess for yourselves.

Apparently, they had caught the driver of the runaway car while the two guys ran away. She was a fourteen year old girl called Shawanda. I kid you not, that was really her name. Anyhoo, because she was a juvvie, they were not allowed to put her in the main holding cell with all the older criminals so they had to keep her on the main floor of the police station. It was surreal because plunked in the center of the room was a round cage where Shawanda was kept. She was a scrappy, skinny black girl with a head full of braids. Sitting on the aluminium folding chair in the center of this barred enclosure, she looked like a scared little child. I even felt sorry for her when the Fuzz teased her relentlessly by saying things like, “Hey Shawanda, why did you want to hurt this nice lady?” (Wow, I don’t recall ever having been called a ‘lady’ before!) and “Shawanda, how did your legs reach the gas pedals?” Nebech.

I then gave a statement and was taken to another room to identify and retrieve my stolen items. Two bags were untouched, but the baby bag, my lovely pink beribboned baby bag was covered in blood. The officer who gave it to me looked sheepish as he tried to wipe away some of the blood with his sleeve. It seems that the good officers of Miami Dade used an age old program of theft deterrent, called ‘Brute Force’. (Remember, this was before Rodney King made every passer-by into a documentary film maker.)
I love cops, they are so manly. When the police drove me home they explained to me that the Miami District Attorney would be contacting me to discuss the charges against my assailant.

Over the next few months I forged a very close relationship with the Miami DA because she had to prosecute for me by proxy as we only stayed in Miami for ten days. She won both the criminal and civil suits, by the end of which we were on first name basis. She called me ‘Kasamba’ and I called her ‘Janet’, short for Janet Reno, before she became the US Attorney General.
Yes, it was she- pre the wacko Wako disaster.

My convicted assailant owes me the neat sum of $3,000, which he’s never paid.
Thank goodness I’m didn’t hold my breath, because I would have been out of it along time ago.
Never mind, at least I widened my social circle and met new people.
Ah, a vacation to remember

Sunday, December 24

Skiing Next Door

It is a European tradition that on the two week Chanukah vacation afforded the euro-kiddies, that there is a mass exodus to go, as they call it, ‘on holiday’.
So, we too fall in line with the masses and go away as well.
If you remember (see? You never know when I’m going to give a pop quiz!) that Vienna is practically in Britain’s back yard, Switzerland is like going next door.
Yup, you got it, we go skiing.

It should be simple enough; you pack, you step on an airplane, you arrive, you ski.
But nothing is ever that simple is it?

Packing should be easy because you just plunk everything you think you require, for yourself and the kids, in as many suitcases as needed and voila! Done.
Yeah, I wish. Mr Kasamba has a fear of taking too much luggage. If it was up to him, we’d wear all our clothes plus our ski gear on the plane and just take hand luggage. So, he goes around inspecting and inquiring about every single item, “Are you sure you need this?” To which the answer most usually is, “Yes Dad, I need underwear!” to which he inevitably replies, “Okay, just checking, we don’t want to take too much, you know!” Then on the day we leave comes the weigh in. I don’t care what diets you’ve ever been on, this is by far the scariest weigh in ever. We all stand around and hold our breaths while Mr Kasamba estimates the weight of each case before he puts it on the scale. Then the moment of truth arrives as he tells each of us if we’ve passed the weight challenge. If a case weighs more than Oprah, then he will ask the offending packer to open up their case to see if he can spot something that he feels is unnecessary, like shoes or slippers.

2-Stepping on an airplane
This year proved the most difficult of all for this task. But before I go into the ‘hows’ and ‘whys’, I must preface things with a short observation about the United Kingdom: The UK is one of the most woosiest and sisiest of all countries. They are given to a state of hysteria every two minutes, and it’s always about the weather. If it snows a light snowfall of dandruff flakes, they close all the roads and schools down. If there is too much rain there are flood alerts and once again, everything gets shut down. If there is too much sun, they put a ‘hosepipe ban’ into effect and cry about drought. I’m telling you if Great Britain would be a woman, she’d be having ‘the vapours’.

This time, we had fog. Okay, it was a pretty dense fog. It was so thick that I half expected Celine Dion to step onto my patio and start singing. But still, I know planes are equipped with instruments to allow them to fly in the fog. Uh huh, not in the UK, in the UK they cancel hundreds of flights, forcing people to wait around the airport for hours and then go home dejected. Our first flight was cancelled but Mr Kasamba managed to get us on a later one, which in spite of the inevitable delays, was really fortuitous.

Then came airport security. That entire liquid ban is a joke. You are allowed to take any liquids that fit into a ziplock bag. Since the line was so long, I took the opportunity to grill, oops, I mean ask, an airline security official about the state of affairs as it stands in airport security.

I asked him if airline officials were checking the gel inserts that look like chicken fillets that women sometimes use to enhance their upper regional areas. I asked him if they are checking pregnant women stomachs to make sure they are real and not just a hidden chamber storing sticks of dynamite and heaven forbid, Evian. I asked him about concealed tubes hidden in baby milk bottles. I also asked him about the fact that 80% of our bodies are made up of water.
What’s next? Dehumidifying chambers? HUH???
I won’t repeat what he said because you will not feel very safe boarding a flight if I did.

3- Arriving

Well, Boruch Hashem we arrived but… sans Asparagus’s luggage. She was not too gutted as it was the small one that had all the contraband that was weighing her suitcase down like a Mafia victim; in other words, her school books. This year poor Asparagus is taking her GCSE’s which are the British state exams. She has a tremendous mount of revision that she must do while she’s away. When just that one piece of luggage did not arrive, she took that as a sign from the Almighty that she deserves a break. I’m sure that will go down a treat with her examiners.

4- Skiing
Skiing is a very interesting sport, where the ungainly and ungraceful in real life are given a chance to look like gliding swans. Unfortunately, I am not one of them. My kids and husband are content enough to throw themselves off of mountains, but I think I have more of a connection to this world than they do.
Put it this way, I’d really like to live.

In the beginning of my non skiing career, I had an instructor who tried to make me go down a particularly steep ninety degree mountain. I told her that I would just wait there for spring thaw and then I could just walk down. She didn’t budge. I told her that she should just go and save herself, but that didn’t make her budge either. Suddenly, she came and gave me a huge push and off I went careening towards the abyss.

Finally at the end of this impossible run, I was so exhausted that all I wanted to do was collapse. Finally I saw a huge bank of the whitest, fluffiest snow ever, so I manoeuvred myself to plough right into it, which I did. Except instead of the ‘whoosh’ expected of falling into soft snow, I heard a ‘bonk’ as I smashed right into a snow covered generator. What made this discovery even more special was the fact that it was witnessed by an entire café of Swiss people who were waiting for this moment their entire lives.

BTW, it was at this juncture that I also discovered what the ski poles are for. Some people would have you believe that their purpose is to help one’s balance.
Attention K-mart shoppers: this is patently NOT TRUE!
The ski poles are there to use against snow boarders. The snow boarders come shooting out from all angles, like wildebeest with no rhyme or reason, and so the poles become a disciplining tool. And as you know, it is so very important to have the proper equipment.

It has been a few years since I gave up conventional skiing and I took up what they call here, Lange Laufing- cross country skiing. I like it because I find it all very civilised with no plunging descents. The only thing that I can say that I find disconcerting is the zeal with which my fellow lange lauffers pursue their sport. In their slim cross country ski suits the men and the women look androgynous, like they came off the same assembly line with the same expressions on their faces as well.

They all have this smile that says so much.
It says: I am so healthy because I am outdoors.
It says: I love the scenery, it is so lovely.
It says: I am so happy because I have a Swiss passport.
It also says: I don’t even care that I don’t know if I am male or female.
I always hope it is not catchy.

One thing I can tell you is that the one thing that is simple; Apres Ski.
The hot chocolate back at the hotel is simply the best!

Uh, oh. I think I feel a smile coming on.

Wednesday, December 20

Tomato, Come Light the Menorah

Tomato, is a very special boy.
Eight years ago, he almost arrived in the world on Yom Kippur but then changed his mind. He next tried to make an appearance the following Shabbos but then got shy. He was finally born the first night of Sukkos having forced his Daddy to drive on three mega holy days. We were this close to calling him ‘Mechallel’ and his middle names were going to be, ‘Shabbos and Yom Tov’.

He is the least demanding and easiest of my children, therefore, I find that I have to remind myself to spend some alone time with him. This Chanukah afforded me the opportunity to spend some real ‘Mommy and Me’ time with him because he came to me with a request to help him with a Chanukah project; to which of course I immediately acquiesced.

FYI, I happen to be the Project Queen.
It’s not that I’m not humble, it’s just that I appreciate and cherish the gift that Hashem gave me even when it means that I’m doing my neighbours Shabbos table shoebox diarama at two o’clock in the morning.
Okay, maybe I’m not humble.
Sue me.

It is actually very interesting that I’m so good with what teachers call ‘technical’ skills because I’m really lousy with what I think is really the technical stuff. In fact, you could call me ‘technically impaired’. It’s serious and it’s sad. I can’t program my car radio buttons so I end up scanning and listening to the same gardening radio show, over and over again. I can now mulch and compost with the best of them. It is amazing that I can type this and it’s a real miracle that I can turn this computer on at all.

Anyhoo, I have been excelling at kids school projects since I learned how wield scissors. My brothers always capitalized on this as did my mom’s friends and then mine which then extended my friends kids. What can I say?
They recognised greatness when they saw it.

So when Tomato told me he had to do a project for school, I thought ‘Oh, good’. When he told me it was a competition, I thought ‘Oh, FABULOUS’!!!!! Now, as you know, I’m not a competitive person per se, only when it comes to having the nicest Sukkah and the best darn school projects.

The project assigned was to create a Menorah from disposable goods.
This was on Tuesday, so I asked Tomato when the project was due and he said on Friday. On Friday!!!! That left us so little time! How was I to collect all the toilet rolls from inside the toilet paper? How does one (uh, hum) encourage family members to go more often and use more paper?
Never you mind, a teensy bit more fibre in their diets and we shall we say, managed.

Then Tomato and I sat down and cut half moon shapes from the bottom of each of the nine toilet rolls and stuck them on the two paper towel rolls, which I had no problem collecting considering we go through paper towels like Condoleza Rice goes through Helmet Head Hairspray.
For the Shamas, we added another half of a toilet roll to make it higher and then we put another toilet roll underneath the paper towel rolls and attached it to a tissue box which we taped and glued into submission. Then we taped up the holes at the top of the toilet rolls and put Evian bottle caps as candle holders.

The final touch was when we spray painted it silver and the wind shifted and Tomato ended up with silver tipped school shoes.
I actually think they make quite a style statement.

The entire Menorah was finished by Thursday night. We had made the deadline! Then Tomato dropped the bombshell; sheepishly with a sly smile on his face he said to me, “Actually Mums, (well, he is British you know!) It’s due for NEXT Friday, I just wanted it done ahead of time!” Aha. I thought back to all that sweating and rushing and I came to the conclusion that he is a very bright boy indeed because he knew that I would only do it last minute anyway.

Anyway, on the allotted correct Friday, which was this past Friday, I drove Tomato to school, because he didn’t want his beloved Menorah, which we had all bonded with (well, it was sitting around the house an awfully long time) to get squashed by well meaning boisterous boys on the school bus.

He came home in awe of the other projects and thought there was one good contender; a boy had made his Menorah out of sweets, but apparently, when he wasn’t looking the rest of the class helped themselves and so by the end of the day there were very few sweets remaining on it.
Come on, let me hear a big, ‘AWWWW’…..
But Tomato assured me that it still looked okay.

The final judging was on Tuesday after his Chanukah Show.

I must say that even though the parking is murder and the school hall is jammed packed like the Harrods sale, I always look forward to Tomato’s Chanukah shows. Tomato got such a treat because the infamous travelin’ man Mr Kasamba came as well. When Tomato saw both of us sitting in the audience he grinned from ear to ear. The show was adorable and hearing Tomato sing his solos was a shtikel Gan Eden. I can’t imagine the Leviim in the Bais Hamikdash would have made me feel any more blissful then I felt at that show. It was a real nachasfest.

Soon enough the moment arrived, the results of the menorah competition were in! The lady sitting on my right leaned over and said to me, “I helped my son make the most amazing menorah!”
I answered, “Well, we’ll see, won’t we, my pretty…”
and then I laughed an evil laugh, “Whaaa, ha, ha Whaaa haaa haa….”
Actually, I didn’t really say that out loud, I just thought it.
At full volume.
What actually happened was that I turned to her and said,
“How nice.”

Then it was announced, (drumroll please…)
Tomato had won the competition!
Oh, yeah, oh yeah, we’re the best oh, yeah, oh yeah!
After Tomato collected his prize, and I gave high fives and cigars all around, I very maturely explained to Tomato that winning isn’t everything and that it’s just as important to have tried your best. And as he looked up at me with his earnest blue eyes, I was hoping that he couldn’t tell that I didn’t mean a word.

Oh, BTW the sweetie menorah won second place and that lady’s kid didn’t win at all.
Never mind, as I said before, winning’s not everything.
Yeah, right.

Sunday, December 17

Chanukah is Here!

It’s Chanukah!

Chanukah is here! The ‘Festival of Lights’!
As a kid, before Monsey was homogenously Jewish, there were loads of people who celebrated the Other Holiday and they had loads more lights than we did. Their homes were bedecked with twinkly lit baubles in all different shapes and colours with huge illuminated figurines of reindeers, candy canes, and fat men in red suits that made the electric company rub their greedy hands with glee. I mistakenly thought they were celebrating the ‘Festival of Lights’.

It was only as I grew older that I was able to look at the Chanukah candles and appreciate their quiet sophistication imparting their ancient message and feel that I was not missing out on the garish commercialism that now characterises the Other Holiday.

Besides, there are so many differences between Chanukah and the Other Holiday:

#1- Our legendary men might be overweight, and they probably would have beards but there is no way any self respecting Jew would hurl himself down a soot covered chimney to deliver presents. Lehavdil a million Havdalos, our undead is very civilised; after all, we open the door and welcome in our white bearded man. (Plus, there’s no milk and cookies for our man- we offer ours a huge cup of wine.) Not only that, but I don’t know any Jews worth their borscht who own chimneys at all.

Now, before I get inundated with mail from ‘Jews for Chimneys’ I would just like to say that I’m generalising for a purpose here.
Gotit? Anyway, if you do have a chimney and like to sit in front of cozy fires in the winter, my guess is that you chop the wood by yourself and have shelaqued bagels with painted scenes hanging on your walls. If that’s so, I have nothing to say because you are in a different category of Jew altogether. Anyone who has to take down their artwork for Pesach, is just well, different.

#2- Cooking doesn’t scare us. In most magazines, the big talk is about cooking for the big meal on the Other Holiday. They dictate to their readers how to prepare menus, give them shopping lists for ingredients and organise their cooking schedules. This is because it’s soooo very difficult to arrange a five course meal, isn’t it?
We do it every Friday night.
Big whooping deal.
The only extra thing we do on Chanukah, is make Latkes and donuts, but we don’t have to take a Valium to ‘get through it’.

#3- We have fewer songs about Chanukah. In the beginning of Chanukah, I always think ‘I Have a Little Dreidel’ is the sweetest song my little ones could ever sing, so much so that I just want to thank the person that composed that cute little ditty. By the end of Chanukah, I have had enough of that clay dreidel and all I want to do to the composer is throttle him.
Never mind, Nachas comes with a price.

The Other Holiday has so many songs, some of them really terrific.
The only problem I have with them is that I can’t seem to get them out of my head. I know this is genetic.
I have a clear recollection of shopping with my Mother and wanting the earth to swallow me up when she sang, ‘I’m Dreaming of a White…’ out LOUD in a Hungarian accent, in a Chassidishe Mocher Seforim. Apparently, I tend to act similarly because my kids are forever telling me to ‘Shush!’ when we go to Jewish stores at this time of year.
It must be a subconscious thing.

Chanukah is really a holiday about Us vs. Them.
I find it fascinating that even the name ‘Chanukah’ separates Us from Them.
Unless you are Scottish or Swiss (hey, maybe they’re the lost tribes?) or an Arab (they don’t count- they’re cousins), only a Heimishe can pronounce the ‘Cha’ in Chanukah.

Here is a Chanukah synopsis;

They wanted us to act like Greeks
They didn’t want us to practise as Jews.
We fought them.
We won.
We couldn’t find oil.
We found oil.
Let’s eat.

Have a Fabulous Chanukah!!!!

Thursday, December 14

This Post is Smokin’

Whoever invented smoking should be shot.
Oh, it’s too late, they’ve already rotted centuries ago with lungs that probably looked like my first attempt at pottery in a too hot kiln.

I don’t think I would mind people smoking if they didn’t exhale. It always seems to me that people take two puffs from their cigarette and then hold the cigarette away from them, allowing the fumes to creep up on me and ruin whichever sheitel I was unlucky enough to be donning.
Oh, didn’t you know?
Smoking Kills…. Sheitels.
They don’t write that on the package do they?
Apparently, it didn’t occur to the Surgeon General to put that as a warning to the public. Apparently my purchased hair means nothing to him, or the smokers themselves. But, to be fair; if smokers don’t care about their own unborn babies, they certainly won’t give a fig about my poor wig.

When exposed to smoke, the sheitel hair swells up; absorbing the smoke and the smell, removing whatever shine the hair had. Too much exposure will leave it lifeless and frizzy, which incidentally is exactly happens to the smokers themselves, as they too become lifeless and frizzy.

Have you ever seen the before and after photos of lungs pre and post smoking? The virgin lungs are pristine and a healthy shade of pink, while the smokers lungs look like a lump of coal that was excavated from the Great Fire of London. I’m not even going to mention nicotine staining on teeth and fingers and the fact that a die-hard smoker (hah! Get it?) has the skin comparable to a bark of a tree. When a smoker talks, they rasp and rattle when they breathe.
So, that should make one think, ‘do the filters work?’

But as for the rest us, victims of the addicted, what happens to us, besides stinky sheitels? Every time I go to Paris where the meal costs more than the ticket to go there, as soon as someone inevitably lights up, everything tastes the same; ash.
Tres expensive ash.
I actually came across a T-shirt that said ‘Quit smoking- find out what food tastes like’.
The icing on the crème brulee is that we come home smelling like a cannibal’s hors douvres; completely smoked and tenderised. This is despite my best efforts in trying to halt the smokers’ quest to pollute my air. I try to appeal to their human kindness; that special place in their soul that makes them weep when hearing about suffering llamas in Argentina. So, I start off hemming and hawing and move on to hocking and broching and coughing so loud that even the Parisian taxi drivers outside are awakened from their trance like stupors. Mr Kasamba finds my behaviour excruciating because all it does is make the Frenchies stare, lips pursed while their cigarettes continue to perfume my world.

What I can’t understand is, what is so wonderful about smoking that makes people put their enjoyment before the health and welfare of the rest of us? The sad thing is that it’s not just the non smokers who come into random contact with smokers who suffer, but the vulnerable ones condemned by fate to be around smokers most of the time.
The poor innocent children.

Now, as a eminent warbler once sang, ‘I believe that children are our future’. Just what kind of future do children of smokers have? I have seen people smoke a foot away from their newborn baby, and I have seen them smoke while propping their children on their knee. When I was last in the airport I witnessed a set of parents wheel their tiny baby into the smoking section provided by Heathrow. I could barely believe my eyes. Evidently, they did not want to leave their child just outside of the enclosure, because it wouldn’t be safe.
Sure, that makes sense.

Have you ever seen the smoking section at Heathrow? It looks like a see through stand up coffin with clear panels so you can watch people kill themselves slowly. At the time the concerned parents stepped in there, there was so much smoke I was waiting for Sherlock Holmes and Watson to step out from the mist. It disturbed me so much that I went up to the nearest airport representative and asked her if she could say something to these 'parents of the year'. She obviously said that she couldn’t but that the smoking section would soon be a thing of the past as smoking will banned from public places in England altogether. Yee ha!

The only positive side that I can say about smoking is; if you do smoke in your car, you never have to pay extra for tinted windows.

I will leave you with the words of the great philosopher Rosanne Barr,
“Be nice to smokers, they don’t have long to live.”

Sunday, December 10

The Land Of the Rising High Rises Part Two


They also have this service thing down to a ‘T’.
They fuss all over you and you can tell that that they really enjoy it. This is in stark contrast to the Philapinos, who will serve you and call you, “M’am’ with unconcealed hatred. They will also spit in your coffee at every available opportunity.

Not so in HK. There they stand over you and wait with baited breath for your approval. I imagine that this is the subject of many a dinner table conversation in Chinese homes:
“So Ling Ling, how was work today?”
“Very good, honoured Father, western lady praise me for coffee well made.”
“Well done Ling Ling! Now go get your Mother in from rice patty!”
Just joking, in Hong Kong there are no rice patties, there’s just no room for any.

And that’s another thing.
In HK you have six million people living on an island roughly the size of a postage stamp. Since they couldn’t build out, they had to build up and build up they did. I think they must have been high on Slivovitz when they stuck huge skyscrapers on every available inch of land. The buildings are so close to each other that when the sun shines, barely any of it filters down to the streets below. Plus, because this island is full of hills you can be on the ground floor of one building and look straight into the living room of someone on the fourteenth floor of another building. You really can look into people’s living rooms because no one there closes their curtains. I figure that it’s because they are either exhibitionists or narcissists; they either want people to watch them or they are just not interested in anyone’s lives but their own.
Either way, it makes for interesting viewing.

The markets though, are the most fun.
I have never seen so much junk in one place.
That I feel compelled to own.

The people in the market stalls scream, “Missy, prease, Missy! Copy handbag, copy watch!” Which I buy even though it says ‘Mio Mio’ instead of ‘Miu Miu’ and the watch is 1/3 smaller than the original. On the flight back all these metziahs start to disintegrate, so that by the time I unpack, all I’m left with are bits of metal and leather. Which is not really suprising.

What is surprising is the large Jewish contingent there.
On the Central side of Hong Kong there are three shuls and there are two on the Kowloon side. All visiting Jews ask the same question, “Are you on this side or the other side?” They make it sound like they are challenging you to tap into your psychic powers.

There are quite a few kosher restaurants as well; actually there are more kosher restaurants in Hong Kong than there are in Vienna. Chabad have a large presence there and their Hachnasas Orchim is second to none. Rabbi Avtzon and his posse (on the Central side) are incredible. Mr Kasamba feels that many people take what they do for granted and he feels that people should leave donations when they leave. Personally, I am very grateful for the good care they take of Mr Kasamba every time he goes there.

Shabbos in Hong Kong affords you the opportunity of meeting the most fascinating Jews from all over the world. It is a melting pot of Jews who all come together to daven and eat. We met a fabulous couple with three adorable kids from Melbourne Australia. They run a Pesach program there in an Australian resort. If you are interested you can go to

Sunday is a holiday of sorts in that it is the Phillapinos day off. It is a plethora of Phillapinos. Thousands of them drape the streets sitting on blankets and newspapers to meet their friends to compare copy handbags and compete for the title of who has ‘the most evil employer’.

My favourite pastime is watching two Chinese people yell at each other.
The name of the game is to try to figure out what they are saying.
A sample translated conversation might be:
“I tell you Szechuan, you are wrong! You must always iron overcoat on bias!”
“What??? Are you Dim Sum? Did your father feed you too much eel? You know nothing! I say, nothing!”
(Arm gestures and lots of spit)

All in all, I love Hong Kong and I always feel a bit sad to leave.
I have a genuine affection for the happy miniature people there and I would have stuffed as many of them as possible into my new Mio Mio handbag, but not one wanted go.
Go figure.

Wednesday, December 6

The Land Of the Rising High Rises Part One

Aloha Blogger-sans!
Okay, so maybe Aloha is not Chinese.
And maybe it’s the Japanese and not the Chinese that say that whole ‘san’ business.
So, I can’t speak Chinese.
Oh, big deal. Sue me.

I write to you just having come back from the Land of the Rising High Rises.
Yes that’s right, I was in Hong Kong.

Every so often Mr Kasamba takes me on one of his many, many, many fun, oops! I mean, business trips.

I love Hong Kong.
I love the smell of soy that pervades the air.
I love the energy, the hustle bustle and of course, the people.
The exuberance and friendliness of the Hong Konganese can be found no where else. They are always smiling and their enthusiasm is infectious. They are like Disney characters on steroids.
They are positively perky.

To me they all look similar and I know this is a sore point to them. You see, us Caucasians look different because of our varying hair colour, hair texture, eye colour, facial features and height. However, most Chinese can be physically interchangeable. Because of this they go to outrageous lengths to assert their individuality. They will dye and perm their beautifully natural black, poker straight hair until it resembles an Edward Scissorhands creation and wear outlandish fashions on their fabulously whippet thin bodies, in a bid to stick out from the crowd. Ironically, their nonconformity makes them look that much more alike and indistinguishable.

Let’s go back to the whippet thin bodies they have. They are all so thin. I don’t recall ever having seen any fat people there unless they hide them from the public eye like they do in Beverly Hills. The largest size they carry in most stores is an American size four, so most westerners coming to Hong Kong have to pray that their suitcases don’t get lost in transit. Heaven forbid if western women do indeed find themselves in need of new garments, they can ask for their size (which on the odd occasion they will have in stock) only to have the Sales assistant yell at her associate in Cantonese, “Hey, Chow Min, bring out the Bedouin tents!”

I think I know why they are so thin:
1- The food that they sell is squirmy.
If you walk past the food stalls, they are full of wriggly, squishy, slimy things that are either covered in sauce or au natural. Most of the time, they are still alive. Put it this way, what they call food is when I would call the exterminators.
It’s enough to put Pavarotti right off his spaghetti.

2- They eat with their mouths open.
If you have ever had the pleasure of watching Chinese people eat, you might like to arm yourself with a cocktail umbrella to shield yourself from the food fallout. Whether it is rice or dried fish (the smellier, grosser choice) whatever they chew, as fast as they chew, it’s flying all over the place, left right and centre.
Hence, they are so thin because so little remains in their mouths.

Hey, you know this is not the end, I still have so much more to say!
It is only the;
End of Part One

(Okay, okay, I know that's not Chinese either- oh, give me a break)
Chinese/ Japanese/Iceberg/Goldberg; it's all the same.
Sue me.

My blog is worth $12,419.88.
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