Last month, I had the fortune to celebrate my first year as a fully-fledged Israeli citizen.
During the past year (I made Aliya right in the middle of Operation Protective Edge — my plane couldn’t land for a while due to a barrage of rockets) and the prior ten years I had been going back and forth to Israel from my native London, I really thought I had seen everything this country had to offer (except Masada. I still haven’t made it there yet, but I’ll let you know when I do).
And I mean everything — from the vast fields of the north, to the desert in the south; from the beaches of Tel Aviv, to the sublime scenery of the West Bank, the Dead Sea, Eilat — you name it, I’ve done it. Suspicious objects? Just sit on the bus and wait it out. A terror attack? Keep your eyes open and your wits about you. The dreaded siren sound? Keep a robe handy at all times. There’s really not much which can surprise me anymore.
Until I happened to look at something which I had seen a few thousand times before…and notice something completely different.
Look at this:
That’s your standard Israeli lottery booth. Isn’t it nice to look at? The eye catching orange, the hut-like shape, the logo —
Oh wait, the logo. Take a closer look. What does it say?
If you read ‘iGiS’, you’ve not been here long enough. If you read לוטו, then mazal tov my friend — you’ve finally become Israeli!
Ever since I first plonked down onto these shores as a tourist 10 years ago this summer, and with every subsequent summer and winter trip here, I’d always seen these booths and attempted to understand what it was that iGiS did. I’d heard people could buy lottery tickets from there, but it was a company which was never mentioned anywhere else or ever verbally or visually linked to anything.
The epiphany came, strangely (as they usually do) at a time when I was exhausted. Schlepping back heavy electrical items on the bus and stuck in heavy traffic, I happened to glance outside at one of those ubiquitous iGiS booths.
And I don’t know why, or how — maybe it was my brain finally giving in and autopiloting from right to left, Hebrew-style, rather than left to right, Anglo-style, but I suddenly realised that iGiS wasn’t actually iGiS at all — it had been לוטו all this time!
Take a look again. That s? It’s a fancy lamed. The two i’s? Vavs with nekudot. The g — that treacherous g! — a swishy tet.
So amused by this glass-shattering moment was I, I took to Facebook (naturally), mainly to inform my fellow olim of this ‘Anglo problem’ moment, but also to reassure myself that I really hadn’t been that stupid for so long.
And it wasn’t just me! Not 16 hours after posting my discovery in Secret Tel Aviv (a Facebook olim network for Tel Aviv, where you can find a job, sell your stuff and even advertise yourself for dating), and then Secret Jerusalem (ditto, but for Jerusalem), as of the time of writing this blog post, there are almost 500 likes and 8 comments in Secret Tel Aviv, and 350 and 80 comments in Secret Jerusalem. Take a look for yourself:
For years I've seen those little orange lotto booths, and wondering what 'IGIS' had to do with the lotto. I just…
The point of this? There is none. I’m just happy to have shared my ‘Anglo problem’/Israeli breakthrough moment with you.
And with all that said, I’m off to buy a lotto ticket, now I know where to do such a thing. Wish me luck!