The Israeli Epidemic  

If you’re Isreali read this with dry humour and acceptance. 

I’m standing outside a small convenience store whilst my boyfriend purchases water. The road is dusty and chaotic, filled with foreigners left over from the Holi festival who have yet to move on from Pushkars enchanting bubble. 
To the left of me are 3 kebab stores with Indian waiters trying to wheel in as many customers as they can. “Shalom, my friend! Falafel? The BEST falafel you will eat in India!”

To the right of me I hear Israelis walking commenting on how “The hummus was good but I can make much better at home”.

Man, I love this place but if I have to listen to one more Israeli talk about how they make “the best hummus” I’m going to throw a fucking bowl of chickpeas at someone. For starters guys, ANYONE can make a better batch of hummus at home, it ain’t rocket science.

India’s appeal comes from many things; the culture, the fresh spice, the chapathis, the bindis, the colours, the cheap jewerly, the temples, the waterfalls… I could go on. However the down fall (for me) of these backpackers havens, is that, you are all sheep. Followers of the path set out to those who traveled the path before you. And whether you like it or not, you are going to come across the same people you meet from one place, in the next. It is inevitable. 

So as you walk down the street of this new heaven on earth, you see familiar faces. You wonder how you know them… Are they Australian? Did I meet them in Sydney? I bet their from Sydney! Maybe I met them in Varkala? Mysore? Maybe Hampi? 

At some points you see dear friends you have made, in a previous popular backpackers destination. In which case you smile and jump for joy and say, “I thought you went back to Germany?!”

… And other times, as you walk down the street, you hear the sounds of an unpleasant language, speaking harsh, grotesque sounds (probably discussing the health benefits of hummus and how to conduct the perfect chickpea to lemon to tahini ratio) and as you look up you scrunch your face in annoyance at the brat pack of Israelis, all wearing the same hippy clothes, jewerly coming out of every crevice of their bodies, walking in a solidified line to which they will move for NO-ONE, (literally won’t budge, stand in their way and watch as you dance around them as they wait for you, solid and firm, to move) and you quietly question humanity’s existence. 

Now, I have nothing against Isrealis or Israel… Or at least I didn’t before coming to India… But my God, after almost 3 months of traveling through India I cannot even begin to explain my frustration. What frustrates me even more is that I don’t want to think of every Isreali as harsh, rude, self-obsessed, clicky, immature and arrogant, but they DO NOT make it easy for themselves. They give their country such a bad name in India, it is evident that most other nationalities, including if not first and foremost Indians, are going to think terribly of them. 

I can’t tell you how many conversations I have had with multiple nationalities (EVEN ISREALIS) about how extremely arrogant they are, it’s a hot topic, touched on at least once a week for westerners. So I know it’s not just me. Infact I have even heard that the Isreali government made a complaint about Isrealis behaviour when traveling other countries such as India and South America, and how they need to sharpen up and stop being so rude, as they are giving their country a bad reputation. The Isreali government is ashamed of their people!

I understand that Isrealis, as oppose to say, Aussies, lead quite a different life style. They are forced to partake in their army’s services for at least 2-3 years when they finish school. This compared to say, what I did when I left high school is abrupt, and quite frankly a little terrifying. I have not and will never be put in a situation like that so I cannot speak of that experience. However after coming out of a military lifestyle, I would hope it would help them to realise what kind of person they want to be and want kind of person they don’t want to be.

It sucks that young Isrealis don’t have a choice when they finish school and are sent to the army. HOWEVER, nothing excuses arrogance, rudeness and the perception of someone thinking they are better than another. Your out of the army now, grow up. Don’t come to a country and use the people as your napkin, spitting and snorting all over them, wiping off the excess hummus from your face.

And you’ve got to ask yourself, if you are coming to travel the world and experience another culture, what is the point of hanging around people of only your nationality, whilst eating the same food you get back home. I could think of nothing worse than sitting around with a group of Aussie country bumpkins, corona in hand, whilst slurring our words about Malcolm Turnball on a rooftop in Rishikesh… I’m not saying I don’t like meeting and hanging out with other Australians, cause I do, but if I wanted to drink my life away and spend to much money on food dishes from my own country, I’d fly to Sydney and walk into a pub.

After 3 months of giving Isrealis blank expressions as they come up to me and start rambling on in Hebrew, assuming that I’m Israeli, I had completely given up on their people. I look down when I hear Isrealis coming (not that they would acknowledge me anyway unless, God forbid they think I am one of them), I curse under my breath when I am seated by a waiter close to them in a restaurant, and I had come to the conclusion that ALL Isrealis were of the category I had typed out in my head. Each with all those discouraging traits I stated earlier.

I was done. 

But then, one night, Zac and I went to eat in a popular restaurant in Rishikesh, and we were seated next to a couple who were quietly keeping to themselves, eating their dinner in an un obnoxious way. I was unsure of where they were from… They didn’t dress like the rest of the hippie-cult that is Isrealis India, they weren’t eating the falafel plate that the restaurant offered, and they weren’t yelling abruptly at each other from across the table. 

We started chatting to them, low and behold they were Isreali. But this warm, charming couple in their early 20’s were unlike the rest…

They were smiling and laughing and actually conversing with us! Before we even said anything about our prior experiences with Isrealis they apologised sincerely for their tribe that inundated India. 

We spent the night laughing and eating together and by the end of the evening, me and Zac were ready to book flights to Tel Aviv, to sleep on their couch and eat their home made hummus. 

They completely changed our perception on Isrealis, and perhaps made us understand their ignorance a little better. For this I thank them, because underneath it all I know that my perception of Isrealis had only been conceived by a small portion of people who, like most of their nationality, are going through a phase of “freedom”.
I’m standing outside a small convenience store whilst my boyfriend purchases water. The road is dusty and chaotic, filled with foreigners left over from the Holi festival who have yet to move on from Pushkars enchanting bubble. 

A women with dark eyebrows and dark curly hair, half dreaded comes up to me and starts rambling to me in a harsh language I don’t understand. I look up at her in disgust and dis-interest with a blank expression. After a while of her looking at me as if I’m stupid I state flatly, “I don’t speak Hebrew.” 

She looks at me, dumb founded, because apperantly I have the appearance of an Isreali woman, or should I say, of a European women because… Come on… No Isreali is actually “Isreali” you’re all descendants from neighbouring countries. 

“Ugh, you’re not Isreali.” She splutters, already un-interested in my existence and waving me off as if I am a fly. 

As she walks away I smile at her arrogant stance, and remind myself of the individuals in the world who can change your perception back to pleasantries in one sitting.  

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