Sunday, January 20, 2013

Israel Omnibus Part 4 -5


We are at Wailing wall in Jerusalem.
The main section of the wall, where people go to pray, is about 187 feet (57 m) long and is made of meleke limestone. Most of the stones weigh 4,000 pounds (1,814. 4 kg) or more, and one enormous stone, called the Western Stone, weighs more than 1. 1 million pounds (more than 500,000 kg). There are 28 stone layers above the ground and 17 underground. An underground tunnel runs along the length of the wall.

Wailing wall
We mingle with other pilgrims and tourists at this wall and we also pray. We also make notes of our pray on the papers and inserted those papers in the cracks of the wall. Well anything that we wished that day came true. We were three friends.

Prayers inserted in the wall.
One friend wanted to marry a girl but his family and her family both opposed to this relation and he begged God for his this wish come true and indeed it came true very gracefully. Second friend was none other but Harish.

Jerusalem Old city view from Fort escarpment.
He wanted a job badly after finishing his Masters and he got a very descent and respectable job. I also had some serious issues in my life and all gotten resolved after this visit. Well, call is coincidence or call it the prayers answered, but this all happened.
Many people weep silently here and many can be seen kissing this wall. After visiting and praying at this wall we explored rest of the Jewish Quarter. It is well kept and ancient quarter but not much commercial activity goes on here.

Muslim Quarters
Most of the shops are in Christian and Muslim Quarters. Christian quarter is more touristy and religious. Muslim Quarters is like a bazaar, local Muslims visit this bazaar for their daily need shopping. This quarter is most populous.
We hit a jackpot near Damascus Gate. There we found some shops selling falafels wrapped in pita-bread.

View of Mount Olives from Fort escarpment
Here people can buy Falafels in Pita breads and form the self service counters we can fill as much salads and sauces in our pita as much we wished.

Pita Breads
Falafel is a deep-fried ball or patty made from ground chickpeas (chana) or fava beans, or both. Falafel is a traditional Arab food, usually served in a pita, which acts as a pocket, or wrapped in a flatbread known as lafa. The falafel balls are topped with salads, pickled vegetables, hot sauce, and drizzled with sesame based sauces.

Falafel sandwich
Falafel is becoming an international food now. You can find it in all large bazaars in the whole world.

Pita Breads
Pita Bread: is a round pocket bread widely consumed in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean countries. The “pocket” in pita bread is created by steam, which puffs up the dough. As the bread cools and flattens, a pocket is left in the middle.

Falafel Stall in Israel
It is same thing that we can call it fulka, or the roti that balloons up with steam while cooking. Now a day’s many high-tech automatic plants make Pita Bread. One such plant is installed in the Golden Temple, Amritsar.
In Langar Hall, pilgrims are served Pita Bread along with the roti made on Tawa. Many pilgrims visit the pita bread facilities to watch the Pita being made with dough. Whole operation consists of large conveyer’s belts and ovens. When we were single in USA, we always used to cook either rice or eat Pita Bread because making desi bread is a big deal for a student.

A colorful shop in Muslim Quarters.
Another things that we find in Israel is Bagel. It is a hardened bread with a hole in it. Bagels are of Jewish origin. Bagel come in many flavor; salt, garlic, onion, spinach, sun-dried-tomatoes etc. to name few.

Assorted variety of Bagels.
Our breakfast in Jerusalem was mostly Bagels with butter of cream-cheese. Actually my breakfast in USA is also mostly bagel. Bagels were brought to the United States by immigrant Polish-Jews and now it has become a popular American Breakfast. This trend is growing up in Canada and England and many other countries.

Muslim Quarters near Damascus Gate.
The Muslim Quarters are the most interesting and largest quarter in the old city, and most of its population arrived after its original Jewish and Christian residents moved to newer neighborhoods. The Moslem Quarter has churches and mosques, and there are several Jewish homes and Yeshivas still remaining.

Bagel with cream cheese.
We spend 4 days in the old city and each day we come to Muslim quarter for our lunch and dinner. Its bazaars remind me of the colorful bazaars in the narrow streets in India where you can buy just anything that includes raw food, fruits, meat, milk, sweets, ropes, lamps, nails, rat-traps and other hardware etc.

A man on the Donkey in West Bank.
Another blessing that we found in these quarters, that we saw Egyptian type tea shops where black tea with mint is served along with hookah and some chess like games that you can play while sitting there. I am not writing more about these shops because one day I will write about my Egypt visit.
Area outside the Damascus gate is West Bank, controlled by Paternalists. Or you can call it an entire different country.

Temple of Mount.
Area outside the Lions Gate is 100% Israel and its prosperity reflects there but in just 2 kilometers country changes and area changes. There outside the gate we feel like we are in some different and not so prosperous country.

A woman on Donkey in West Bank
It takes us full 2 days to explore full Old City. Many enclaves were residential and we don’t bother to get in those streets because of the resident’s privacy concerns because Muslims are very concerned about the privacy of their women folks but we were welcome to explore just any street in all other quarter. We also circled the old town from outside and visited Mount of Olives; it is named for the olive groves that once covered its slopes. It is said by believers that Jesus gave an end-time prophecy at this location.

Temple of Mount
The Mount of Olives is associated mainly with Jewish and Christian traditions but also contains several sites important in Islam. The most of the mount is an ancient Jewish cemetery.
In the evenings we go to bus stand and catch any random city bus and visit other neighborhood of Jerusalem but it turns out unappealing, just like any western cities and enclaves. We always return to our beloved Old City hotel and have a couple of beers and then we walk to Muslim Quarters for dinner in the Muslim Quarters.
Whole Old City Jerusalem is kept very clean very efficiently. We should learn this lessen.

Wailing wall
They use 2 wheeled small and narrow tiller like tractors that were manufactured in India and were used mostly in South India but they lost popularity. These small tractors pull small trolleys in the narrow alleys of Old City and all garbage is hauled out, a couple of times each day.

Muslim Quarters.
End

I lost part 5, will recreate it soon.

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