20 signs you've been in Tel Aviv too long

(Photagrapher: Angelika Nocky)(Photagrapher: Angelika Nocky)
To start off this blog, in which I want to share my thoughts on life in Tel Aviv and Israel (as a "non-Israeli", or "tourist" if you like), I want to share with you my "20 signs you've been in Tel Aviv too long", which I originally wrote and posted on my personal blog BubblePerspectives.me.
Tel Aviv is a special place in many ways, and you know you have lived here for a while already (maybe too long?) when you can relate to some of these signs.
1. You use the word Yalla for every occasion.
Yalla, is originally an Arabic expression but is also commonly used as a Hebrew slang. It is one of the most usable expressions among Israelis in daily life, and depending on the ciromstances it can mean hurry up, come on, let’s go, sure, bye, let’s hang up, I’m in… If you used to find the expression a bit odd at first, you have now successfully made it a part of your own vocabulary and know how to use it with the right tone of voice to call for action, replace a sentence, or answer a question.
2. You always show up to a party at least 30 minutes or an hour late.
Nobody in Israel expects you to actually show up to a party by the time they give on the invitation. If the party is supposed to start at 21:00 you make sure you arrive around 22:00. If you happen to actually show up at 21:00 you will probably find yourself being the first and only person there, waiting around for the others to come.
3. Anything more than 5 minutes travelling time away is far.
Once, you used to walk for half an hour to get somewhere without thinking twice, and you used to travel to work or school with a one hour bus every day without it bothering you. Tel Aviv, however, is a big city in terms of what it has to offer, but a small city in terms of size. Most likely you have everything you need just underneath your apartment building, or within 5 minutes walk from it. Should you find yourself in a situation that you need to be somewhere to which you cannot get within a 5 minutes walk, you might just reconsider if you actually have to go there, or in worst case pay for a taxi to get you there.
4. You know where the nearest bomb shelter is located.
One of the downsides of living in the middle east are the conflicts and the wars. If you have lived in Israel long enough you might already have experienced an attack or a war of some sort. People in Tel Aviv are usually pretty spared from the effects, compared to other areas of the country, and even though a possible attack is not something you worry too much about anymore because it has just become part of life, it’s still always good to know where to go just in case (or when) something happens.
5. You have dog.
At least every second person in Tel Aviv has one dog or more. It is an extremely dog friendly city, with plenty of dog parks and dog beaches. You can bring your dog to almost any café, restaurant, bar, and shopping mall. There are also plenty of shelters for lost or abandoned dogs, and at some point in time you could no longer resist the temptation of adopting one. You are now part of the crowd who goes to have a coffee or a beer together with your dog.
6. You drink only Goldstar.
Goldstar is an Israeli beer offered in most bars and restaurants along with a wide variety of other beer brands. Every time you go out you ask to look at the drink menu to see what the options are, and every time after looking at the options offered, you decide to order a pint of Goldstar. You know from the beginning you will end up ordering the Goldstar, but for some reason I guess it feels like a more educated choice if you ask for the other options first.
7. You know how to get drunk in the city without spending too much money.
The new trend in Tel Aviv is something called bracelet bars. The whole idea of these bars is that you buy a bracelet when you arrive, usually you can choose between a few different price levels depending on which kind of alcoholic baverages you want to drink during the evening, and then you just drink as much as you want! Yes, it’s true! Great way to avoid spending all your money after one too many drinks, and also a great way to get way too drunk since you want to make sure you take advantage of your unlimited drinks to the fullest. Apart from knowing the best bracelet bars in your area, you also know where and how to most likely get free shots from the bartenders in various other bars and restaurants.
8. You spend a big percentage of your salary on weddings.
Apart from your rent and food, weddings might be one of your biggest expenses. Weddings is a big thing in Israel. Most couples get married at a certain age, and the weddings are big and costly. Usually there are a few hundred people invited to each wedding, and it is custom to bring money as a wedding gift to the bride and groom. There are all kinds of rules for how much money you should bring, and these are based on how close you are to the couple getting married. Generally the minimum you should bring, if you don’t know tha couple that well, is enough to at least cover the costs for yourself as a guest in the wedding, with food and such. Bottom line, a lot of the weddings you get invited to, and you get invited to many, are quite expensive since a lot of times it is close friends and family who are getting married.
9. You know how to exit Dizengoff center through the same door you entered.
There is a mall on Dizengoff street referred to as The Center. While being a great mall in many ways, with many floors and stores of all kinds, it might also be one of the most confusing malls ever made. At first you probably spent hours walking around trying to figure out how the building works, and you never managed to find your way back to the same store twice, nor did manage to leave the mall through the same door you arrived through. These days you navigate through the same mall with confidence, and know how to find your favorite stores in notime.
10. You know Jewish holidays = “They tried to kill us. We survived. Now let’s eat”
There are plenty of Jewish holidays and you have been celebrating them all a number of times in Israel, regardless of if you are Jewish or not. Most of the holidays have some religious background, and are usually celebrated in memory of some event. You quickly realized that often this event is that at some point in bibilical history someone tried to destroy the Jewish people, they survived, and now we eat a lot of food to remember it.
11. Soldiers carrying weapons no longer catches your attention.
Soldiers dressed in uniforms and carrying their weapons around with them is a common sight everywhere in Israel. These are not soldiers on duty, but simply people who are doing their 3 years of mandatory army service, and who has to store their army weapon at home, meaning they have to carry it with them to and from the army base. In the beginning you felt a bit uncomfortable sitting on the bus next to a guy or a girl with a big gun over his or her knees, however these days you barely notice these things, and that soldier is likely a friend of yours, or the brother or sister of someone you know, and you know how annoying they think it is to have to carry around a heavy weapon in the heat.
12. You believe flipflops go with everything.
You own at least one pair of flipflops and you wear them daily and with every outfit, regardless of if you are going to the beach, to the mall, to work, or to a night club.
13. You know the names of all the beaches and which one to go to.
Tel Aviv’s entire coastline is made up of beaches. Each beach has something special, and you have your favorite one as well as the ones you would never go to. You know where the religious people go, you know where the gay people go, you know where the dogs go, you know where the hotel guests go, you know where they serve food and drinks, and where people play a lot of matkot.
14. You are no longer affected by rudeness.
While there are many nice and friendly people in Israel, they are not characterized as the most polite culture. In the beginning you used to get all worked up over things like people cutting in front of you in line, or people just not standing in line, or car drivers refusing to let you cross the street, or car drivers honking at you for crossing the street even though you have green light, or people pushing you and not apologizing, or people just being rude for no specific reason. These days rudeness no longer gets to you, in runs off you like water on goose feathers, and in fact you can be quite rude yourself at times.
15. 5 minutes of rain means that winter is here and we need to make soup.
The summers in Israel are long and hot, and at some point you really start to look forward to the winter. Even though winters can be kind of chill and rainy, it is not unusual with 20 degrees and sun. Therefore you learn to get really excited when it rains, and you make sure to take out your winter clothes and start making soup as soon as the first rain drops are falling.
16. You know to bring a sweater with you to the cinema during boiling hot summer days.
During the hot and humid summers every place has the AC on full power. When it is boiling outside, it is usually so cold inside with the AC that you actually have to put on a sweater at some point.
17. You do most of your shopping from home.
Almost eveything can be delivered to your door; if it’s food, groceries, kitchen supplies, pet food or a hamock. Why spend the time and effort on going somewhere when you can just have someone bring it to your door.
18. You know how to make a kombina.
In Israel everyone has to fend for themselves, so people figure out different ways to get by a bit easier or a bit cheaper, often by using contacts or various creative solutions. A lot of times it’s completely harmless, and sometimes it’s a bit like cheating, but you have to do what you have to do to survive.
19. You order Café Hafuch instead of Cappuccino.
Café Hafuch, which means upside-down coffee in free translation, is Israel’s answer to Cappuccino. In most places you will receive the same coffee regardless of if you tell them Hafuch or Cappuccino, but these days you just say Hafuch, and you also make sure they make your Hafuch exactly like you want it. Small, big or medium. Boiling hot or a bit less warm than usual. With or without foam, or with a lot of foam, or just a little foam. In a regular cup, a glass cup, or in a paper cup. With regular milk, with skim milk, with soy milk, or with half milk and half hot water. With the espresso on the side, or with an extra shot of espresso inside.
20. You experience withdrawal sympthoms if stranded without Hummus.
There is always a jar of Hummus in your fridge at home. You know where all the best Hummus restaurants are. You know how to order and eat Hummus like a local. When ever you are abroad, Israeli Hummus is the first thing you start craving for. You believe Israeli Hummus is the best Hummus, and you use it as a universal spread or dip for various foods.