My office is not directly in Bnei Brak, but on the border to Ramat Gan, one of the more affluent areas north of Tel Aviv. Where these two merge is where I move around. The area is somewhat surrealistic.
Jabotinsky Street, the place I get off the bus and find myself in a forest of donation boxes (see previous post) is loud, crowded and dirty. There must be about 50 different bus lines going along this route, which leads out of Tel Aviv into the towns on the north-eastern side of the city. The street is aligned with shops, mainly outlets and stock sales, bakeries or coffee shops. One of the street lanes is ripped open. They are putting down the infrastructure for a light train. Huge construction equipment is moving around behind long fences of sheet metal, contribution to the noise. There are people everywhere and unfortunately their garbage piles up in several locations on the side of the pavement.
There is a religious dad pushing a baby stroller with more than one kid hanging on. Arab construction workers are smoking cigarettes. Religious teenage girls are hurrying to a nearby college. A dark-skinned soldier is looking for a certain bus line – good luck to him! A man in a suite is giving instructions into his cellphone. Someone in sports clothes carrying a sports bag is jumping out off the way of a cycler. And me.
As I come around a corner of a glass covered, shining bank building. Suddenly a modern looking, neatly paved pedestrian zone is opening up. You see Sushi places, vegan cafes and a gym blasting techno from its open door. There are more construction sites, where office towers are growing out off. Yet a little further down the road, after passing already-built multi-storey business castles, like the one I work in, the scenery changes again. We are surrounded by little mechanic shops and garages in low houses and shags. At the opposite side of the street, adjacent to a construction fence, is graffiti demanding: „enough with colorful clothes!“ as a reminder of where we are and yet another sign of religious exaggeration. Is this someones‘ way of resisting co-existence? It certainly emphasizes the gap between two totally different worlds existing parallel in the same space.
There are much fewer people here. It is a lot quieter as the industrial character gives way to a regular urban dwelling neighborhood. And then I see this.
Did I say „surrealism“ already?