Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Farewell to Israel

It has been two years since I have been living in Israel and it's time for me to say goodbye. I have very mixed feelings about leaving, because although i am going home, i am also leaving behind a part of my life that was clearly the biggest thing that has ever happened to me so far. The trip to Israel was the first time I had ever traveled outside the country, first time I had been in a plane even, but now I can reel off the answers to any security guy in the airport like a veteran :) I am heading back to bangalore tomorrow via ethiopia and bombay. I am really dreading the 24 hr bus ride from bombay to bangalore, but like everything else, this too will pass. I had a great time here, and I only regret not starting the blog earlier, because the blog gave me a sense of time here. And added a bit of surrealness when I found myself listed as an 'israeli' blog at other blogs. Thanks once again to Allison.
Sitting in the middle of the Negev erases all sense of the outside world and by chronicling even the tiniest bit of adventure made me more aware of the things that are happening here. Being in Israel, learning Hebrew, knowing the local customs and traditions, following the festivals- all these have changed me: I pay far more attention to things I just wouldn't have noticed in India. I have a more acute sense of politics now, while before I used to read just the comic section in newspapers. Maybe I will switch back to that anyway :). And knowing the situation here from the ground -so to speak- puts me in the unenviable position of being a supporter of Israel, despite my wish that the govt would run things in a better way. I think the main memories I will be taking back with me will be of the desert (there's nothing like doing a project in the Arava to make you keenly aware of the desert) and the immense diversity of people here. One might think that Israel is just a land of jews, but I have met people 'returning' from so many countries and using so many languages that the diversity is only to be wondered at. And of course the incredible international feel of the desert school, where you hear the chatter of atleast five languages at any given time and where you can make friends from all the continents. I will now spend the rest of my life trying to get rid of so many words that I found indispensable here -"nu", "beseder", "ma pitom"....etc, words that I now say automatically. I have too much to say and too little time, and a suitcase to pack as well, and I will write more once I get back. But the world is a sphere and paths are destined to cross, so rather than a final goodbye I shall say lehitraot.