Thursday, 15 September 2011

No 'elf and safety hats here during demolishment

Mahmud is next door. I know that he's called that because it's written in Hebrew above the window to his - I'm not sure what you can call it, 'digger,' caterpiller, large-yellow-machine-with- long-bit-that-has-huge-scoop-at-the-end so that it can scoop up a building and then place it on another pile of bricks in front of what used to be a block of flats. This thing pivots at 360 degrees and climbs junior mountains. It's a sight to behold. If it really does belong to Mahmud, then he's done really well because these things cost a shit-load of dosh. I remember a friend of mine here, back in the day when the Sinai and Sharm still belonged to Israel, he had an even bigger one of those things and it cost almost as much as a house. I can't see how this could have changed that much.

I'm happy that Mahmud has done so well and is working here in apartheid Tel Aviv. His friend across the road, waiting for Mahmud to finish scooping so that he could begin carting, almost threw a fit and ran behind another guy when he saw me walking the dog. The dog's not much bigger than a French Bulldog could be and, as I explained to him, while his other friend collapsed in mirth as he ran behind him, the dog doesn't bite! It's a cultural thing, you see. Even the Haredi girls do the same. If they see me walking the dog along the side of the religious beach, they scream and run for cover. It's hysterical.

So Mahmud and his pals were here because all of a sudden, without warning, they turned up two days ago and started to demolish the block of flats that is (or rather was) next door to us. I suppose that we should have guessed that something was about to happen because from one day to the next everyone had moved out and there were dead settees on the street, along with bed clothes, legless tables and garden chairs. Maybe they're going to renovate it, we thought. I saw a step-ladder in one of the bedrooms. Maybe simply painting it, although just a coat of paint would not have done it justice; it had generous holes in the walls and the trees were dying. Then, out of the blue, a noise of crashing bricks and cement and I looked out of the window and voila! our wall had been knocked into and debris lined the bushes and trees along the side of our building. So typical. No posters to say that this was going to happen, please close your windows. No Health and Safety notices on lamp posts along the street; no men wearing hard hats or the street being closed while various vans and lorries and general demolishing machines mend their way along to sit outside in a heap of dust.

Now we have what looks like the remnant of a small battle lying next to us and the dust drifts over in Arabian proportions, mixed with sand and dog hair. I had thought of getting the windows cleaned last week. Pleased that I didn't. I don't know whether I'll be able to until after the new building is up and who knows how long that will take. At least Mahmud and Co. will be off for the holidays. Here everything stops until 'after the Chagim.' There's some solace in that.

No comments: