Through the eyes of a trendy tourist: A shopaholic's guide

The Mamilla shopping mall in Jerusalem (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
The Mamilla shopping mall in Jerusalem
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
IN JUST over a year since we made aliya, I’ve been amazed and thrilled at the number of family and friends who have visited this part of the world. Some have come to see us on planned holidays, others have been here for celebrations and a few have come to Israel out of curiosity – to see for themselves what this fascinating cultural and religious center of Judaism, Islam and Christianity is all about. Most of our visitors have been from South Africa, but we have also had much fun catching up with friends who have visited here from London, Toronto and Sydney.
In some ways, living in Israel can make the world seem much smaller – friends and family, who seemed to stay so far from us, are now just one short flight away.
It was a recent visitor from South Africa – a self-confessed diva and shopaholic – who asked for help with a few important words to make her two-week visit just a little easier.
So, with much laughter and a fair amount of wine, she helped prioritize this potentially helpful snap list of necessary words for any trendy tourist visiting the popular shopping hangouts across the country.
Here, then, is a quick, fun Israeli shopper’s lingo guide:
1. Canyon – shopping mall. This was surprisingly – or perhaps not surprisingly – the first word I was asked to translate.
2. Hafuch – cappuccino. (Literally translated, it means “upside down” because the milk is on top instead of at the bottom of the cup of liquid caffeine.) 3. Hafuch dal shuman – Cappucino with low fat milk! Apparently, important to combat the excess holiday calories created by decadent pastries and other compulsory carbohydrates.
4. Sababa – slang for “that’s great!” Our lovable friend picked up that many young people use this term, and she was keen to add it to her growing lexicon.
5. Aizeh kef – also popular slang for “That’s great!” 6. Fen – a hair blow out (Apparently very important for any self-respecting woman, who doesn’t want to be seen with curly hair, even if she has just left the beach.) 7. Mezuman or cartis ashrai? All shoppers need to know this question – cash or credit card? You could well be asked when paying for your new shoes and/or outfits.
8. Hanacha – discount. Experienced or outspoken tourists might know to ask about special discounts, especially at the market (shuk). New visitors are advised to come out of their shells, speak out and simply ask.
9. Motek – sweetie. Can be used when speaking to a male or female.
10. Lehitra’ot – goodbye. But translated, it literally means “see you again”… and she loved this expression, because she definitely will be back.
It’s worth emphasizing that this is just a basic, fun list, which helped my entertaining guest with her initial attempt to integrate and get to know people here. I am sure that locals the world over would rather interact with someone who tries to get to know the language and culture of a place, even if the attempt is grammatically incorrect or the pronunciation isn’t spot on. I truly believe it’s an important message that shows someone is interested in trying to learn and understand life in a new place. It was also interesting to see our new home country through a tourist’s eyes – it was heart-warming to see she found the people here to be open, upbeat and welcoming. When she visits again, we’ll put together a more in-depth list to make her next stay even more memorable.