The other day I strolled through the Tel Aviv sunshine, arm in arm with my girlfriend. We started on Park HaYarkon where we followed the lake as it snaked its merry way towards the Mediterranean.
We walked on the bank and came to a series of black marble pillars seemingly broken in half. Near a cluster of three a young family sat on the green grass soaking up the sun. Their baby was crawling through the blades of grass dribbling to his parent’s delight. They had brought a picnic with them and were enjoying nothing more than the joy of being alive. There are several of those memorials scattered through the river bank. People ride their bicycles around them, young couples walk hand in hand chattering away just as I am. No one stops to take a look at these broken pillars. The names carved on the pillars are those who fell in between Israel’s major wars. Never gaining the glory of having fallen during a time of crisis, of valor or of national victory. They died from a random artillery barrage or blown up by a random mine. They died when Israel wasn’t at war.
We kept on walking through to Tel Aviv port where hundreds of toddlers were playing in the purpose built playground while their parents followed them around cautiously, petrified they would fall and break something.
We walked along the seafront in sunshine that beamed its brilliance down upon us but wasn’t so hot that we had to run for shade. We abandoned the sea view for the delights of Dizengoff street which we followed all the way from Nordau street in what’s known as the “Old North” of the city. It is full of shops selling wedding dresses with numerous hair salons interspersed.
Following the road down one ends up at the Dizengoff Center, a mall best known not for the shops within but for its helter skelter design. So confusing is the layout that it’s rumored the secret service uses it as the perfect place to train agents in the art of inconspicuously following people.
Eventually our meandering takes us to Allenby street, the once great central street of Tel Aviv which declined and decayed into a shadow of its former self. In the last few years the painfully slow process of a tender revival back in the direction of her former glory has begun. This has ensured that Allenby is in that curious state of flux whereby the strip clubs and porn shops exist alongside bright, refurbished buildings and bars frequented by only the hippest of hipsters. Some of the buildings are still derelict just waiting for a developer to come along and apply the tender touch of redevelopment. Graffiti covers many of these buildings.
Right in the center of all this carnage lies a bar called The Minzar. This pub is always crowded to overflowing with people sporting weird tattoos and weirder haircuts. Smoke anything other than a rolled up cigarette and people are liable to stare.
To get into the bar itself involves traversing through a mass of humanity precariously seated on collapsible tables and chairs in the outside area of the pub. The inside is rather small. When entering you’re faced with the decision of going up to where the bar is located or down to inhabit an airier place that is almost entirely devoid of atmosphere.
We go up and sit next to a large, open window allowing us to enjoy the breeze from the outside and take in the scene of the Tel Avivis below us. A girl with a magnificent head of brown curly hair casually drops a couple of menus on our table and leaves. My girlfriend takes my hand and looks at me. I look into those hazel eyes of hers and contemplate her olive skin. I admire her sweet pout. I allow the feelings that come from being not particularly young and in love to wash over me.
Oh and the peace process collapsed.