Today was my first day back in Tel Aviv. Even though it’s been over half a year since I left NYU Tel Aviv and returned to New York, coming back feels like coming home. Along with my best friend Chris, I came back to Tel Aviv to create a documentary about the globalization of the concept of normal. By focusing on the everyday lives of five specific Tel Avivians, I hope to visually relate the Tel Aviv’s unique conception of normativity. This blog is a visual diary that will record my experience!
Today was kind of weirdly nostalgic. I went back to alot of the same places I regulared when I lived in Tel Aviv. Chris and I started our day at Ha Malabia, the famous Malabi place on Allenby, close to the Shukh. Malabi is a creamy milk based pudding with rosewater and nut toppings- paired with a shot of black coffee (Arab/Turkish Coffee), it was the perfect way to start our day!
Next we went to Shukh Ha Carmel (Carmel Market), which Chris hates because it’s too crowded. We rushed through to the money exchange and turned some dollars into shekels. Armed with laptops and in need of our caffeine fix, we decided to find a cafe.
After wandering the streets for a bit and finally convincing Chris that the two-floored Aroma (basically the Starbucks of Israel) was NOT the move, we ended up at Shpagat. Shpagat is a cute cafe that becomes an insane bar at night. During the day, people sit and work all day but at night it becomes a famous LGBTQ bar/club.
While at Shpagat, Chris decided to schedule an appointment with his barber, Avner. Chris literally waited all semester to get his hair cut by Avner because he didn’t trust anyone else with his hair. So, we hopped on a bus and headed over to Avner’s.
Avner’s barber shop is actually his apartment. He invited us in and quickly had his son take Chris to get his hair shampooed. I waited patiently on the couch as Avner flirtatiously discussed Chris’s new hair style with him. After convincing Chris that the styling would be worth the daily maintenance, Avner got to work on his craft. Chris beckoned me over and Avner told me he had worked in New York, passing me a look of shock mixed with humor when I didn’t recognize the name of the apparently infamous hair stylist he’d worked with. After finishing the hair session, Avner warmly sent us off with hugs and a look of satisfaction at his handy work.
Since we were already in the North, we decided to head up to NYU TLV. Walking past some of our favorite places in our old neighborhood- Rosa Parks, Super Baba, Super Yuda, the Gym- we decided to walk along the park. Chris- who could not hold in his excitement- immediately began taking pictures of Ha Yarkon River, captioning his new Insta post “sunset at ‘home.'” We did a mini photo shoot along the park and then made it to campus where we were warmly greeted by the NYU TLV staff (basically our extended family).
After our visit, we decided to get dinner at our favorite cafe right by campus, Cafe Zorich. I got the classic Shakshuka that had gotten me through all my various NYU TLV struggles from class finals to having my luggage taken by the IDF when returning from spring break. Chris texted his cousin Amy, a current NYU TLV student, and asked her what to get. Upon her reccomendation he got the eggplant penne. Halfway through our meal, we ended up switching dishes (lol).
After a day filled with warmth and nostalgia I can’t help but look forward to the rest of this experience. To the new people I’ll meet, new places I’ll see, and the new experiences I’ll have. But for now, I’m gonna sleep off this jet lag.