Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The Squid and the Bank

Originally uploaded by holylandhipster.
I'm going to make every person frustrated with the Israeli government really jealous right now. I left my apartment at 10:30 this morning and it's now 2:30 p.m., I've been home for the past 15 minutes, and have already gotten my Teudat Zehut and opened a bank account. For the people who said that you could ONLY do one big thing in Israel a day, clearly they never met me.

I didn't sleep again last night and so I had a hard time getting out of bed this morning. Jeff had mentioned that I should get to the Misrad Hapnim about an hour before it opened, and that just wasn't going to happen. Resound to the fact that I might have to spent all day there, I didn't schedule anything else for the day, and figured I would just wait my turn. By the time my cab pulled up in front of the building though, I realized that I had left both my book AND my iPod at home. That sucked. It's one thing to have to wait a long time, it's quite another to wait a long time and not have anything to do.

I waited on the first line to get my number and form to fill out before heading inside to the larger waiting area for my number to be called. My number was #164. The number they were serving when I walked in #98. Now that's priceless. I sat down with my form and pen and tried to fill it out as best as I could, given my not-as-great-as-I-had-hoped knowledge of Hebrew. Fortunately, enter Gal Ziv into the picture. I feel bad for him, he had no idea what he was getting into when he sat down next to me (or, come to think of it, did I sit next to him?).

Nevertheless, Gal was awesome and really helpful when it came to translating the paperwork. And then, we got to chatting, and Gal told me about this great band that I should check out called Squid. In fact, while we were on the phone, Gal called the lead singer of the band (Nir Geva) to get his Myspace page address. When I got back to my apartment, I went to the page, and the background photo is really cool. I love the drum sinking in the sea, it's such a classic rock image. The music isn't that bad too, and according to the site, the band is playing at Minerva on Sunday night (August 27th). It looks like they go on at 11:00 p.m., and since my first day of classes will be on Monday, I might not be able to go. That being said, the music was pretty good, so I'm going to try to make it. Hey, I'm not sleeping anyway, right?

Back to Gal, who as it turns out, works in film. In fact, his last short RomanticA was accepted into one of New York's downtown film festivals. According to one website, Gal Ziv was born in Israel; after he finished the Army, he went to study film in The U.S at the Los Angeles City College, USA, than transferred to Carl State University at Northridge. In 1999, he was the Director of photography of two short features: “Final Chapther 2K” and “Saram Saram”. In 1999 He then visited his country again to make his own short feature – “The Adventures of Lasal Laslangdin”. At the end of 1999, he came back to Los Angeles to finish his Degree in Cinema production.He recently finished his second short feature “RomanticA”. He lives in Israel, working in a Post Production company and continues to write and direct. So naturally, talking with Gal was pretty interesting, and since his number was 148 we chatted for almost an hour. Between Gal and Uri, I now have my entree into Israel's film community which will hopefully provide me with a lot more fodder for my own work.

By the time my number was called, I was prepared to fight the system. Fortunately, the system didn't require a war. Except for one little issue. They don't have proof I'm a Jew, because I don't have proof that my Mother is a Jew. OK, that was information no one told me I needed to have on me. Lucky for me, you can still get a Teudat Zehut without that information. All I have to do is bring them a letter from my parents Rabbi, along with a copy of my parents marriage certificate, and they will stamp my ID card with the appropriate information (i.e. that I am, in fact, a yid). The best part of the whole process is that they actually do the ID cards right then and there. And, since I brought 12 passport sized photos with me to Israel (I know, smart thinking!!), I was all set. I walked out of the building less than 2 1/2 hours since getting there, and quickly hopped a cab back towards my neck of the woods.

Meet David Magir, the nicest cab driver in all of Israel who doesn't speak a word of English. He taught me two important words:
1) Pekak - which is sortof like slang but literally means "cork of a wine bottle". They use that term to refer to traffic. As in, everything is shut in tightly because of the Pekak and we won't be moving until the lights change. It's not necessarily a word used with a patient voice.

2) Seforet Bidyoni - Creative Writer - someone who writes stories that come from my head. How cool is that? Now I know how to tell people what I'm doing here!

3) Noam - is not a name just for a boy, but can also be the name for a girl, as the case with David's granddaughter

So, David dropped me off at the Bank in my neighborhood (name of bank will NOT be disclosed in my blog because I am not a dumbass). The Bank was long, and as I was warned, full of vampires. Seriously, they charge you for everything! It's no wonder that more Israelis don't stuff their mattresses.

Here's a basic rundown:
1) To deposit an American check, it will cost $50 and take 1 month to clear. No matter the size of the American check

2) To deposit a travelers check, no matter the cost, is 65.35 shekel

3) There is a 10 shekel maintance fee, each month, on the account

4) There is a 1.20 shekel transaction fee for anything I do, whether it's writing a check or withdrawing money

There's more to the fees, but since they bled me dry at the bank, I have no more energy to include that information in this blog. The only "good" thing is that, once I get my student ID card, I will get some perks when I change my status, and I got a nifty little messenger bag and pens.

I felt pretty proud of my accomplishments today, which were suprisingly haggle free, and so I walked back to my apartment to burn off some excess energy. It's a gorgeous day outside, with the sun shinning and the breeze coming off of the water in steady waves. I think I'm going to treat myself and hit the beach for the first time since getting to Israel. And since some guy called me "whitey" two days ago, I think it's time I really work on my tan.

Tonight it's sushi dinner with Oren and one of his friends. I'm looking forward to seeing what Israeli sushi is like.

Song of the day: Morning Blues by Squid. The vocals are really great on this track.


Harry said...

Hey there. Been enjoying the blog. I remember when I made aliyah many, many moons ago that most of the normal bank fees were waived for the first few months of aliyah. So make sure you look into that! And my bank (FIBI) doesn't charge such an absurd fee for depositing a cheque from abroad. Did you shop around at all?

Gal Ziv said...

My Dear
I like your blog, I like your story about myself and Squid... How are you?
Hope Israel treaten you well
Gal Ziv