Friday, December 31, 2004

Haifa (I)

On my way back from Haifa, I decided to try the brand new train line.
I sit in front of a young woman wearing a light and colorful pair of pants, a sweater and a scarf that make her look as if she has just come back from India. She is studying what seems to be class notes. Tel-Aviv University is one of the stops, about an hour from now.
I'm sick from a cold that is just starting and sip the tea that a young boy hauling food and beverages has sold me. This is definitely much nicer than the bus, always crowded and cramped.
We've been traveling for about 20 minutes when a voice announces something over the public system. The distortion added to my cold and to my limited knowledge of the language make the announcement a mystery. I just catch the name of the station at which I am supposed to get off.
I ask politely the woman with the decorated pants. "Could you tell me what this was all about?" She translates in an hesitant English before adding "Some days, I hope they'll also talk English in the trains". I look at her and smile when I answer "No, no. Some days I hope I'll be able to understand Hebrew". Her face lights up. She looks at me with a joy that I recognize to be the gratitude to be accepted as she is. I don't ask her to change. I want myself to adapt. She does not hear that very often. Hence the smile.


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