Free Flight And Trip To Israel

Just came back from an amazing experience – a ten day guided tour of Israel. I was one of five Israelis who joined a group of 42 young American Jews, in a free trip organized by a foundation called Taglit-Birthright Israel       . They provide first time, peer group, educational trips to Israel for Jewish young adults ages 18 to 26. Taglit-Birthright Israel’s founders created this program to send thousands of young Jewish adults from all over the world to Israel as a gift in order to diminish the growing division between Israel and Jewish communities around the world; to strengthen the sense of solidarity among world Jewry; and to strengthen participants’ personal Jewish identity and connection to the Jewish people.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xlyfESc7wjA

120,000
150,000
160,000
180,000
200,000
250,000
300,000 people have already participated, so click here if you want to learn more.

Simone’s 2nd Annual Post-Xmas CD

Front cover:
Image to be added

Inlay:
Image to be added

Back cover:
Image to be added

Miniature text on front cover: Guaranteed 100% free of hidden messages.

Track list:

Artist Song Album
Infected Mushroom & Berry Sakharof Yomuledet (Birthday) Birthday
Kristin Hersh feat. Michael Stipe Your Ghost Hips and Makers
Strange World I Am
Karel Fialka Hey Matthew Human Animal
Hazel O'Connor Will You Breaking Glass
Travis Baby One More Time Turn [CD Single]
Smash Mouth All Star Shrek Movie Soundtrack
Leonard Cohen Everybody Knows I'm Your Man
Everything But The Girl Time After Time Acoustic
Barcode Brothers SMS BB02
hidden track: Meg Ryan You've Got Mail speech You've Got Mail Movie Soundtrack
Human League Together in Electric Dreams Phil Oakey & Georgio Moroder
Raja Mushtaq The Sculptor Peugeot 206 'The Sculptor' TV Ad
HaDag Nahash (The Snake Fish) Shalom Sallam Peace HaMehona Shel HaGroove (Groove Machine)
Dire Straits Brothers in Arms Brothers in Arms
Korin Allal En Li Erets Aheret (I Have No Other Country) HaOsef (The Collection)

The Impossible Collection – A “Thank-You-For-Christmas” CD for Simone

Front cover:
The Impossible Collection - Front cover

Inlay:
The Impossible Collection - Inlay

Back cover:
The Impossible Collection - Back cover

Miniature text on front cover:
This week, frgdr records have announced their latest CD, named "The Impossible Collection", aiming to create a compilation that will define their musical taste. In our opinion, the very idea of expressing a lifetime of music listening in one album, was pretentious at best. At worst, it is a 20 track CD in which you will find diversity as wide as the ocean itself. From Ivri Lider's song "Bo" in Hebrew, through Murray Head's ancient one time hit "One Night in Bangkok", to a Trance track, supposedly by Israel;s most promising DJ. The album is filled with hints, as apparently it was custom made to some girl in Germany, named Simone. You will be able to find these hints, or should I say innuendos, in songs like Bombay by Dana Berger, Shania Twain's That Don't Impress Me Much, which, by the way, is a much better name for this eclectic mix, in our opinion. Also there's an incriminatingly large selection of love songs, which is as good an evidence as a smoking gun – if you're interested in my "behing the scenes" gossip bit. The compiler's obsession with musical covers, forces us (that is, me, because you don't have to listen to this album, as I was assigned this task by my newspaper editor) – forces us to experience alternative versions to songs by Depeche Mode and REM. The CD also has some Irish links with a Lord Of The Dance track and some cancelled London Musical situated in Belfast '69. To summarize, unless you are this Simone person, and unless you have an uncontrollable urge for some Israeli-Spanish-English-Pop-Musical-Trance music, we would definitely give a 'Thumbs Down' for this CD. Hans Bach – Rolling Stone Magazine, January 2003.

Trivia:
This project was originally given the code name 'Simone's Ditsy XMas' CD, for reason that will not be elaborated here.

Track list:

Artist Song Album
Dana Berger Bombay ad hakatse (To The Limit)
Chess One Night In Bangkok Chess London Musical
Franka Potente Believe Lola Rennt (Run Lola Run) Movie Soundtrack
Tosca Busenfreund Suzuki
Yahel & Eyal Barkan Voyage DJ Tiesto – Magik, Vol. 6: Live in Amsterdam
Scarlet Independent Love Song Naked
Aimee Mann Stupid Thing Whatever
Beautiful South Don't Marry Her Blue Is The Colour
Frente Bizarre Love Tiangle Marvin The Album
Ivri Lider Bo Yossi ve Jagger Movie Soundtrack
Shabak Samech levakesh et ha cash (Ask For The Cash) be'atifa shel mamtak (In A Candy Wrap)
Shania Twain That Don't Impress Me Much Come On Over
Christina Aguilera Ven Conmigo (Solamente Tu) Mi Reflejo
Gregorian Losing My Religion Masters of Chant
Tori Amos Enjoy The Silence Strange Little Girls
Ronan Hardiman (Lord of The Dance) Cry of The Celts Cry of The Celts Compilation
Keanu Reeves Neo's Ending Speech The Matrix Movie Soundtrack
Rage Against The Machine Wake Up Rage Against The Machine
Hani Firstenberg & Sarit Vino-El'ad darkenu (Our Way) haburganim (The Bourgeois) TV Series Soundtrack
Mary (Josie Walker) If This Is What We're Fighting For The Beautiful Game Musical

Singing Waitress at McDonald’s

[05/05/2002 21:00 Bangkok, Thailand]

Hey everybody!

On a whim, I decided to skip a return to the northern part of India and fly from Nepal to Thailand.
I arrived here two days ago and I have been floating on air ever since.

It's everything.
The people are beautiful (unlike my first choice of India) and the taxi drivers don't try to scam you and beg for more money.
They sing here on the street, you know.
Well… they told me they don't really sing for me, it's just that the intonation is so very strange and funny.

It's impossible to explain in an email, but whoever has been here knows _exactly_ what I'm talking about.
([Name redacted], it's _exactly_ how you said it will be).

They linger at the end of each word, and it sounds just like singing.

Sawatdee kaa

Kop khun kaa

And their English! Oh, their English.

Cannot, Misteeeer. Cannoooot.

Losing money.

No hab.

Two days here, and I'm already in love.

Whoever said Khaosan Road is dirty – whoever said Bangkok is stinky, obviously never been to India.
In my eyes, it is heaven.

THEY HAVE SIDEWALK HERE!

Lots of BKK smiles,
Shahar.

One night in Bangkok and the world's your oyster
The bars are temples but the pearls ain't free
You'll find a God in every golden cloister
And if you're lucky then the God's a she
I can feel an angel sliding up to me

"One Night in Bangkok"  — Murray Head  — The musical "Chess"

Arrived at Chomolungma!

[28/04/2002 16:30 – Kathmandu, Nepal]

Hi everyone!

My feet have swollen, my back is aching and I am so very tired, but after 12 days, I came back from the Everest Base Camp.
I apologize for being absent, but I have been trekking here in Nepal in the Sagarmatha National Park, where Mount Everest lies.
Words cannot express the beauty of the scenery I have seen so I will not even try.

Instead I will just lay some facts on you:
1. This has been, by far, the most difficult thing I have ever done, except my army basic training.
2. I trekked with Eli Ha Mem-Pey (also known as Eliezer and the Glacier) and with Avi Ha Katach.
You may assume this was as close to reserve duty as it gets.
3. We ascended in 9 days (as a precaution due to AMS or Heights Disease). We descended in 2 days (about 30 km per day).
4. We used Diamox pills to help us get used to the heights.
5. This is the route we took, you can follow it using the following map:
Everest Base Camp Trek Route

Day Date Route
Saturday 13/4/2002 Flight from KATHMANDU (1,300m) to LUKLA (2,840m)
Sunday 14/4/2002 Trekking from LUKLA to JORSALE (2,805m)
Monday 15/4/2002 Trekking from JORSALE to NAMCHE BAZAR (3,440m)
Tuesday 16/4/2002 Trekking from NAMCHE BAZAR to KHUMJUNG (3,780m)
Wednesday 17/4/2002 Trekking from KHUMJUNG to PANGBOCHE (3,930m)
Thursday 18/4/2002 Trekking from PANGBOCHE to PHERICHE (4,240m)
Friday 19/4/2002 Acclimatization at PHERICHE
Saturday 20/4/2002 Trekking from PHERICHE to DUGHLA (4,620m)
Sunday 21/4/2002 Trekking from DUGHLA to GORAK SHEP (5,140m)
Monday 22/4/2002 Trekking from GORAK SHEP to EVEREST BASE CAMP (5,364m) and back to GORAK SHEP
Tuesday 23/4/2002 Hiking from GORAK SHEP to KALA PATTHAR (5,545m) and returning back until TENGBOCHE (3,860m)
Wednesday 24/4/2002 Finishing the route from TENGBOCHE to LUKLA
Thursday 25/4/2002 Staying at LUKLA
Friday 26/4/2002 Flight from LUKLA to KATHMANDU

6. The first picture attached is of me, Eli and Avi at Everest Base Camp.
This is the highest place trekkers can reach and the starting point for professional mountaineering expeditions.

7. The second picture attached is of the gang at the peak of Kala Patthar, which is the mountain opposing Everest, where you get a good view of the highest mountain in the world.

8. The third picture attached is of me and Mount Everest.

As mentioned before, words cannot describe the actual experience, and even pictures show only a vague resemblance to the actual reality.

As always, more pictures are available at:
[redacted]

Lots of love from the beautiful country of Nepal,
Shahar.


Shahar’s trek to the Everest Base Camp was sponsored by Yahoo! Travel.
If you want to see more pictures of the gang trekking, go to:
[redacted]


Never Break The “Law of Four”

[09/03/2002 19:36 Kathmandu, Nepal]

The Indian people don't lie. It's just that when they don't have the answer, they'll give _an_ answer. It won't be the right one, but they feel they were nice to a stranger.
This is why the "Law of Four" was invented. If you need correct directions to go to a certain place, you always ask 4 people.
The correct way is usually what the majority of the 4 said.

I broke the law of four and regretted it!
I thought that it was enough to ask the train station enquiry clerk for the correct platform when I went from Delhi to Agra.
3 hours after riding the train, I asked the guy next to me when will we reach Agra.
His response?
He laughed and said: "Agra? This train is going to Punjab".
Not only did I take the train in the opposite direction, it was to the state where all the Hindu-Muslim riots happened.
6 Hours after departing from Delhi, I was in the same place, taking a taxi to Agra…

Never Break The "Law of Four"

—-

Hi everybody! Long time no update!

Been having too much fun I guess…
Anyway, I am in Kathmandu now and it is a _whole_ other country.
The people are so pretty, the streets are so clean and it is such a relief from the Indian atmosphere.

I plan to do some trekking here and some white-water rafting.

There were so many rumors in India about the situation in Nepal, including the one that the Israeli Ambassador fled to New-Delhi (did you hear that one?).

Of course everything turned out to be totally incorrect. Everything here is fine – which is not something I can say about our little country.

US$550 for a plane ticket to the East! Think about it…

—-

Some pictures, all from India, to remind you of how I look:

The first picture is from Kodaikanal. It is a hill-station (that is, a town up up in the hills)
where the Brits used to go on their vacation (ruling the country is a difficult job). It is a beautiful place, and since I was with beautiful people, it is (up 'til now) the most memorable I have ever been to on this trip.
In the picture you can see all the beautiful people I was with: Oren, Ziv and Ya'arit. We are playing cards at sunset (a game called "Asshole", I'll teach you when I get back home…).
And the rock we are sitting on is called The Dolphin Nose, a half a day trekking distance from Kodai.
It is so worth it, just for the magnificent view!

—-

The second picture is from Chennai (Madras) in the state of Tamil Nadu (South-East part of the sub-continent). You can see us (the ol' gang), drinking the best Ice-Coffee in the world.
It's called Iced-Eskimo, and it is only served (with or without ice-cream) in Cafe Coffee Day, an Indian coffee shop which is actually a gate to the western world.

Chennai is a city that most Israeli travelers skip (for no good reason). Whoever told me that Delhi is the place for western food and shopping (I know your name and address), whoever that was, obviously never been to Chennai.

—-

The third picture is from the train I took from Chennai to Jaipur.
It's a 40 (forty) hours ride from the South-East to the North-West state of Rajasthan.
Being that long a ride, me and Ziv took the 3rd A/C Class so it was fine.
You even get bed sheets and bad food. :)

—-

One last thing before we depart again:
The Indian post office has very strange working hours. Just from 10:00 to 16:00.
This is just to serve a specific purpose.

I arrived to the post office in Varanasi to send a parcel at 15:30.
Of course you need to pack each parcel with cloth, but no worries, there is a nice guy that will do it for you for just 100 Rupees.
Then, I reached the counter at 16:00.
But no worries, the clerk is still there, only he will not talk to you, just to a guy that "fixes"
everything.
He showed me a piece of paper that the post office
clerk wrote.
It read: 1,460 for sending parcel – 350 for Bakshish.

Yes, this is how the Indian post works. After working hours you need to bribe the clerk. So of course I did my "I am shocked" look, and told the "fixer" I would only pay 100 Rupees bakshish.
The clerk of course did his daily show, where he takes the parcel shoves it back to me and says "Come back tomorrow 10:00".
So now was my part, where I said, "Okay 200".
So get this: this clerk made 600 Rupees (for 3 parcels) in 10 minutes. That's a 4 days pay.

When I kindly thanked the clerk and turned away, the "Macher/fixer" guy told me that his service is 50 Rupees. When I told him that he should get the pay from the clerk he told me that the he can't because the clerk shares the money with all the other postal workers, including the manager.

India! What a country! What a culture!

—-

That's it for now, although you can see some more
pictures at:
[…]

Lots of love from the only land that does not have a rectangular flag,
Shahar.

First Picture I Like

[Sunday 3/2/2002 01:11 – Chennai (Madras), Tamil Nadu, India]

[singlepic id=259 w=300 h=600 float=right]Hi everybody!

I am in Chennai, the 4th largest city in India. It is in the south-east, but you probably know that after checking the map at […]
Right?

Anyway, it’s a huge Indian city with all the beggars and the sewer in the streets, but it has its perks.
Malls! Huge shopping malls to spend all your Rupees in!
Today for instance I spent all day in one (1!) store inside a mall.
7 hours in one _huge_ store!

The weather here is a bit hot. Not as much as the hell in Cochin, but a huge different from Kodaikanal – the town I just came from.
It is a hill-station established by the Americans up high in the mountains.
It was so called there, waking up in the morning reminded me of waking up for guard duty in the boot-camp. But then again, everything here reminds me of boot-camp.

One last thing:
After 30 rolls of camera film, more than US$200 spent, and around a thousand clicks I have finally found a picture that I really like:

Attached is a picture of a beggar. It was taken in Hampi, Karnataka state, India in January 2002.

Shahar.

Some thoughts to share from the end of the world

[26/1/2002 16:15 Kanyakumari, Kerala, India]

Hi friends!

Yes, I'm at the end of the world.
Well… close to it – I'm at the end of the Indian sub-continent, at Kanyakumari.
Check the map attached, if you look up close you can see me waving.

Anyway, I wanted to share with you some stuff:
First, you should know that I bought the newest Lonely Planet guide for 200 Rupees. Now, bare in mind a new one costs 1,200 Rupees.
Mine is used but in excellent condition.
Not only that I saved 900 Rupees, I sold my old LP Guide for, who much?
You guess! 210 Rupees!
So that made me happy for a day or two.

Second, I wanted to share with you something I noticed about the local currency:
Most of you know by now that 10 Rupees equals 1 Israeli Shekel.
But that does not mean that something you buy in Israel for 4 Shekels you would buy here for 40 Rupees.
Oddly enough, many items are 1/10 of the price, so if you buy a cup of tea in Israel for 5 Shekels – you would also buy it in here, for 5 Rupees.

The third thing I wanted to share with you is that I was a model for my friend who is studying Ayurevedic massage. She needed someone to practice on.
Silly me, I said "Okay" before I was informed an Ayurevedic massage includes a butt massage.
The things I sacrifice for my friends… I tell ya…

Fourth insight I got from staying too long under the Varkala sun is the Indian way of saving money:
An Indian clerk at a shop will turn on the lights and the fan when a customer comes in, and when he comes out, he will turn it off and sit in the dark.
I met a driver that never tried the Air-Conditioning at his Boss's car.
I saw Indian people, sleeping at their desk offices, waiters sleeping at their restaurants, drivers in their cars.
I saw plastic drinking straws being re-used, and wooden ice-cream spoons being washed and served again.
Sheesh…

Fifth update, is close encounters in my served food. I won't elaborate more than this:
Fly in the sugar, glass in the spring roll, human hairs in the Palak Paneer.

Last thought from the Varkala Beach – India is so polluted!
Every human organ is affected:
Lungs – with the unbareable Rickshaws and cars polluting the air,
Ears – with the industrial noised and drivers honking their horns for no reason,
Eyes – with the over putting up signs everywhere, so much that it reminds me of an army base.

Hope I didn't occupy too much time off your busy schedule with my rambling…
Love you all from the most Southern point I will ever reach in this trip,
Shahar.

Beware of Elephants Crossing

Hi everybody!

I have been spending the last couple of days in Varkala, on a very nice beach in South-India. I plan to stay here for a couple days more and then move on to Kanya-kumari – the end of the Indian sub-continent (the shpitz).

Prior to Varkala I was in Cochin. It is a very nice place, but the weather was a bit unbearable. I went to the Fort Cochin synagogue on Friday night and it was a sad scene:
only 4 local Jews were there. Apparently there are now 14 (fourteen) Jews left in Cochin. All the others immigrated to Israel.
Thank God there were 30 more Israeli travelers so we had a Minyan and could pray.

Me, and two Israeli friends, Ziv and Oren, went from Cochin to a 3 days safari tour near Munnar, east of Cochin. It was an amazing experience.
We visited a rain forest, then we saw vast tea plantations, and so many other things. The state of Kerala is so different from others I have visited.
I think I went a little bit overboard, because I used up 9 rolls of camera film.

Attached are three pictures:

The first is of me and Oren in a small hut in some distant village in the state of Kerala. The family is making brown sugar out of sugar canes.

The second is of me in the jeep we rented when we visited the Chennar wild life sanctuary. We had a very experienced guide with us, called Benny. He was fair
enough to warn us that there is no guarantee on seeing any wild animals, because it is not a zoo – but the real animal habitat.
In spite of the warning, we saw so many types of animals: wild elephants, deers, wild boars and many kinds of birds. Benny would just tell the jeep driver to stop, and would stretch his hand out the window, point and say:
"See this branch, a small elephant just passed here a couple of minutes ago, we will wait here" – or
"See this elephant dung, see how fresh it is? We will wait here, because the entire family must have cross here ten minutes ago to take a sip of water from the river".
So we just waited each time, and BAM! Elephants! Wild elephants, the kind you should be scared of.

The third is just a picture of two monkeys.

Love you all and miss you much,
Shahar.