August 25, 2004

Buttons, Books and Saffron

I can count on two hands the times I went into Jerusalem this year; I simply did not have the time. Infrequent, sporadic and quick, my trips did not allow me enough time to do what I wanted to do. I was either working, or in Ulpan.

Now however, I have the time. Yesterday I went in to Jerusalem with a friend of mine, the mother of the young girl who I accompanied in the previous week.

Adult conversation! Whee!

We had an early lunch and headed off to shopping; our first stop to drop off her sewing machine AND converter, which we schlepped onto the bus and up and down the streets of Jerusalem in a little hand-shopping cart. Because of a miscommunication the converter was brought along but not necessary; so we ended up schlepping this 20 or 30lb item along with us the rest of the day. Oy, our aching backs!!!!

Next I bought a small pocket Siddur for me; now there is no excuse for me not to pray. We stopped in the lobby of the Leumi Health clinic and had a chat with G-d. Along with the Siddur I got this cutesy little boo in Hebrew, meant for the wee ones, plastic coated, so my chocolate-sticky hands won't ruining the pages as I read about the moralistic stories of our predeccesors. Hey, with a bit of effort I can pass first grade!

Next, an essential stop for me; buttons. The Artist, for reasons I cannot fathom, is a button repellent. Buttons just fall off her clothes, never to be found again. We have so many outfits of hers that either need to be held together by safety pins (which we can never find when needed) or sit there, looking at me contemptuously, saying "You are never going to fix us up proper, are you?"

Hah! I entered the sewing store fearlessly and well prepared; all the buttons in a little paper packet, with amounts needed (in case I couldn't match exactly) and other pertinint information. I show the woman at the counter the button and she came back with ----

something that was wrong, wrong, wrong!

I tried to explain "Saricha et hamida ha zeh!" I need something in this size. She looked at me. "Ha seveh lo hashuv, saricha et hamida ha ze." The color isn't important, I need something this size." She waves angrily at the buttons behind her "Tisticali" "Look". and added, that I should come back there and look.

I searched, seething. Couldn't she have been a bit politer? I realize my Hebrew isn't that good, but I was pretty certain that between my friend and I that we communicated what I needed. But finally found what I needed. Sort of.

"She is rude, frequently" My friend explained later; but the other woman, who owned the store a nd stayed mostly in the back, was very nice." I'm not swayed; I doubt if I will return there. I don't expect fawning, but it wasn't as if I had taken up a lot of her time.

Next we head for the Shuk.

I've wanted to go to the Shuk since we came in May of 2000 for a visit. It is a marvel; outdoor/indoor stores, full of great and unexpected bargins. Most of the stores are food stores; cheese in blocks, fruits and vegetables, nuts, spices, and various mixtures of seasonings for different foods. But there are also clothing stores, and stores filled with pots and pans, and one never knows what one may discover. I walked around in awe, and then bought something for rice; it looks incredibly delicious, a confetti of colors, more like a potpurri than food; and then headed off to a spice store.

I buy a strange looking root, after getting instructions on how to prepare it (hot water, drink it up!)Don't ask me how to pronouce it! Then I ask about saffron.

I've heard the praises sung about saffron for a year now; how expensive, how delicious it is. I knew I had to try it, just once. Did I have enough for it? How dear was dear?

He brings out a small jar; smaller than the height of my thumb ; fiery read threads, in a small mass, less than the volume of the jar, are curled inside. This is the spice I've been searching for. I stare at it; "Kamah ze oleh?" How much.

15 shek. about the price I paid for my little Siddur. 5 shek less than I earn in an hour watching Y; so little for so much money really.

But: I'll take it.

He wraps it in a plastic bag, and hands it to me; I take it as if it were a jewel, placing it carefully in my bag.

Now we can go home.

Posted by Rachel Ann at August 25, 2004 07:58 AM

Sounds cheap for real saffron.

Posted by: Kin at August 29, 2004 05:06 AM
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