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12 April 2012 (How Israelis Make Plans)

April 12, 2012

Yesterday unexpectedly turned out to be a cultural lesson for me on how Israelis Make Plans. And then Changes Them. And then Keep Each Other in Suspense By Not Knowing Until the Last Minute Whether the Plan Will Actually Happen or Not.

Yuval’s good friends from university were supposed to come over for an afternoon BBQ. I was working and was expecting for everyone to have started without me. But when I called Yuval on my way home to see how things were going, this is what he said.

“Oh. One of them didn’t talk to you?”

“No.”

“Oh. Well, now they’re supposed to come around… 9.”

“Nine? You mean nine in the evening?”

“Yes.” He barely whispered.

He then went on to explain how everyone discovered, mysteriously on the day of the BBQ I should add, that their cars were no longer available. The only guy who had a car was traveling during the day and would only be able to pick up everyone in Jerusalem around 7. And then another friend from Tel Aviv.

If they were estimating to arrive at 9 I assumed that could easily turn in to 10, and we’ll be eating at 11 and 6 hours later I would have to wake up to go to work.

Around 6pm when Yuval checked on the friend with the car, I heard him say “Az atem lo baim (so you guys aren’t coming).” It turns out the friend was still stuck in traffic near the Dead Sea! From there to Jerusalem, depending on what part of the Dead Sea, it takes anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour and a half. Without traffic. It takes about two and a half hours from Jerusalem to our place.

Brooding feels like an appropriate word to describe my state at this time. Or silently fuming is more like it. That’s when I went on my walk to get away from the chaos of Yuval’s phone calls with his friends going back and forth about will they or will they not come after all.

While out on my walk I couldn’t help but ask myself, did this kind of thing ever happen in Japan?
Not with this many people! I answered myself immediately, probably out loud. With one person, maybe there were cancellations at the last minute, but hardly ever. But with more people? In Tokyo the bigger the party the essential reservations become for a typical restaurant or izakaya, so plans were made well in advance and while a person or two ended up running late, I couldn’t recall things falling apart at the last minute like this.

This made me remember something a Japanese friend of mine who is also married to an Israeli told me during one of their visits to Israel. She told me how a couple of her husband’s friends kept changing plans to get together so much that she was totally exhausted and drained by it. Now I had an idea what she was talking about.

But everything turned out okay in the end. The Tel Aviv friend took a bus to Jerusalem to save some time, and they all arrived giddy and in a great mood. While Yuval lit up the fire for the BBQ and we were waiting for the friends to arrive, Yuval’s brother convinced me to let him call my boss to explain the situation and let me take the day off the next day. It was a night of great food, great company, and lots of drinking🙂 It took me nearly a whole day to recover, having spent most of it in bed reading, napping, and watching movies.

And now I know never to count on Israelis sticking to the initial plan. Better to be pleasantly surprised than to be disappointed!

昨日はやむを得ずイスラエル文化の体験レッスンのような一日になりました。
事前に立てられた計画を彼らがどうやって実行するか、のレッスン。

昨日はユバルの大学時代の友達四人がバーベキューをしに家に午後から来る予定だったんです。
私は日中仕事だったので、多分私が家に帰る頃は始まっていると予想していました。
帰る途中、ユバルに確認の電話をいれたら彼はびっくりした様子。

「あれ。彼らのうち誰かから電話なかった?」

「ないよ。」

「実は、、、皆9時頃にならないと来れなくなっちゃたみたいなんだ」

「9時?夜の9時??」

「、、、うん」と小声のユバル。

バーベキュー当日の今日になって、皆次々と各自の車が使えなくなったとのこと。
(皆家庭持ちで車はシェアしているので)
たった一人車を出せる友達は日中予定があり夜7時ぐらいにならないとエルサレムに戻らない。
エルサレムで二人を拾った後、テルアビブからもう一人ピックアップしなくてはいけません。

今の時点で9時到着と言っているなら、それが10時になる可能性大。
そしたら食事開始は11時。その6時間後には私は仕事に行くため起きなければなりません。

6時頃、ユバルが車を出す友達に確認の電話を入れました。
すると「アズ アテム ロー バイム(じゃあもう来ないんだね)」と言っている。
なぜならば友達はまだ死海付近で渋滞に巻き込まれているとのこと!
そこからエルサレムは死海のどこにもよるけど渋滞なしで約30分から1時間半はかかる。
エルサレムから私たちが住んでいる所までは約2時間半。

それでも他の日程はNGのためキャンセルはしないけど、でも実行されるのかも明確でない。
ユバルのせいじゃないとわかっていながらも静かな怒りが私の中でメラメラと燃えていました。
実行するかされないのかと鳴り続けるユバルの電話から逃れるためにも散歩にでかけました。

散歩の途中、日本ではこれありえないよね??と自分に問いかける自分が。
特にこのように関わっている人数が多い場合は、、、ありえない。と答える自分。
一人との友達との計画の場合、まれにドタキャンとか
時間が度々変更されたことはあったかもしれない。
でも5人を超えるグループとなると特に東京では予約なしでは入れる場所が限られてくるため
事前に計画を立てるのはもちろん、
一人や二人遅れてくる人や、たまにドタキャンが入ったとしても
今日みたいに直前になって計画がめちゃくちゃになった記憶はない。

ある時、同じくイスラエル人と結婚した日本人の友達が
イスラエルを訪れていた時に言っていたことを思い出しました。
旦那さんの友達と会うはずが、さんざん予定をふりまわされ、「もう疲れちゃった」と。
私も同じような気分でした。

でも最終的にはハッピーエンドでした。
テルアビブに住んでいる友達は時間を節約するためにエルサレムまでバスに乗り、
みんなすごいハイテンションで家に到着。
みんなを待っている途中、ユバルのお兄さんが私の上司に状況を説明し
明日私に休みをとらせてくれるよう説得の電話をいれてくれました。
良く食べ、良く飲み、夜遅くまで良く笑いました。
おかげさまで今日は一日中回復モード。
いっぱい昼寝をしました 笑

今後はイスラエル人と計画を立てても、その通りに行く期待は全くしないことに決めました。
がっかりするよりいい意味でびっくりするほうがまし!

Much love,
Kaori

6 Comments leave one →
  1. April 13, 2012 9:45 pm

    This is so funny (and frustrating). Last year we didn’t know where we were going for Passsover until literally minutes before leaving the house. It was all “Well, didn’t so-and-so call you?” and “We’re meeting at so-and-so’s house at 3, or maybe 5, or maybe it was somewhere else, and driving together. We’ll see.” At least with Passover we knew people would end up somewhere, eventually, more or less on time. For casual plans with friends, it’s a complete gamble as to when, where, or who will show up. It’s definitely exhausting. Convenient public transportation makes being on time in Tokyo very simple, so maybe that has something to do with it? For Israelis, getting anywhere that’s more than a five-minute walk down the street seems to be very complicated.

    • April 14, 2012 9:20 am

      Wow, I don’t know if I could handle not knowing where we are going until minutes before leaving the house! I feel your pain immensely. I wonder how the Israelis you meet in the States will be in this regard? I know Yuval turned more Japanese after living in Japan (I don’t ever remember him pulling an Israeli when making plans there!).

  2. miko permalink
    April 14, 2012 8:06 am

    すっごいよくわかる!!!! 私も同じ経験をした。1日彼らに振り回される感じ。もう絶対に期待しないことにしている。 

    • April 14, 2012 9:23 am

      実はこのエントリーの日本人の友達、mikoのことだったの!すごい振り回されて疲れた〜って言ってたの今回思い出して、痛いほど共感できた。本っ当にもう絶対期待しないわ!!笑

  3. tokyobling permalink
    April 15, 2012 4:59 pm

    Forget the people changing plan things, this is the part that got me surprised: “Yuval’s brother convinced me to let him call my boss to explain the situation and let me take the day off the next day”.

    That would, NEVER, ever, ever, ever happen in Tokyo. (^-^;)

    • April 15, 2012 9:45 pm

      You’re absolutely right tokyobling, this is very unlikely to happen in Tokyo especially the more traditionally Japanese the company, I think. My former boss may have been understanding in certain circumstances, but we were far from a traditional Japanese company and we were also like family.

      Where I now work is much more casual and it’s not rare that people take a day off without much notice. And I should’ve mentioned that Yuval’s friends were throwing this BBQ/party for Yuval and I because we recently got married🙂 … (It just happened about 7 hours later than originally planned!) So my boss was alot more understanding and wanted me to enjoy myself. I think it also helps that she seems to think I really have no life outside of work!

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