My Adventures as a U.S. Diplomat and Family Man

First Stop: Tel Aviv, Israel (July 2012)!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

"Keep Calm and Carry On"

That was the motto my wife and I adopted during Israel's mini-war with Gaza last week. It seemed to suit our predicament pretty well. Even though the occasional air raid sirens and booms were rather unnerving, we knew the chances of a rocket hitting us were minuscule. We also knew that we couldn't hide in our basement and just hope that it would all go away. So we found ways to cope the best we could and make light of the situation. Here's how we kept calm and carried on.

The morning after Israel launched the military operation, a colleague was riding into work with an Israeli driver who was, of course, listening to the news in Hebrew.  Our colleague asked him what the newscaster was saying.  The driver didn't know how to translate into English the name being given to the operation, so he translated it as Pole of Clouds.  (He meant Pillar of Cloud, which according to the Torah guided the Israelites during the exodus to Egypt.)  So, when things looked pretty grim for a few days, we'd try to remember that really it's all just a Pole of Clouds.  That seemed to soften it a bit, or at least made us giggle.

What really made us laugh last week was our two boys lip-syncing various songs in our living room the one day they stayed home from school. Unfortunately, they got hooked on the song "Gangnam Style," or as they call it Gum-Gum Style. I'm happy the Korean rap scene has apparently taken off but for the love of Yahweh, Mohammed and Jesus, I really don't want to hear my 4-year-old say "Hey, sexy lady" to his mom any more.

Another thing we did to clear our heads was get outside. Yes, even though the country was technically at war and rockets were raining down in the south and the miraculous Iron Dome system was intercepting rockets above major cities, we were fairly removed from all the action in our townhouse 30 minutes to the north of Tel Aviv. Life was actually absurdly normal around where we lived. Throughout the week, I saw people sitting at cafes sipping cappuccinos and even observed a sea kayaking class one day. 

As "non-essential" staff, we were home for most of the week while the boys happily trudged off to school further up north. Although we were busy checking our blackberries for the latest information and reporting tidbits to our overworked colleagues, we basically had the better part of the week all to ourselves. I won't sugar coat the "stay-cation" too much though. The tension was there. The unknowns. The "what ifs." On a purely selfish level, I was also sullen that this war had overtaken the national agenda. I yearned for my issues to be back on the table. Well, I got my wish late last week and work is back in full swing now. 

Looking back, I'd like to think that this experience made us stronger, at least from the standpoint of getting more exercise than usual. Running on the beach one day got me thinking of this training scene from Rocky III. I too imagined myself "getting stronger" both mentally and physically. Don't ask me where Apollo Creed or Mr. T fit in. Just allow me to indulge in my movie fantasies through this blog. Can I at least get a shout out from other 80s aficionados out there? 

1 comment:

  1. Sending prayers and good vibes to ya'll. Good to know the power of Gangnam Style is universal. My 5-yr old thinks the "sexy lady song" is the funniest thing ever. Stay safe!