Thursday, November 13, 2014

This is the End



6th of August 2014

Joe was more than a friend, almost like a dad, a part of me, someone I could tell absolutely everything with no shame. He had worked with me on the project of Pamper the World and the concert. He had watched me fail, he had seen me falling slowly, and when I had touched the ground, he was here:
Hey Idiot, get up and eat something. Here is your doggy-bag. Cretine!”
He was the one dying, but he fed me, he made me laugh...and cry sometimes.

6th of August, 4pm. Joe is lying dead in bed. A few hours later, 2 guys arrive with a coffin. Not a word for the family. They put the coffin next to the bed. We couldn't let them do it just like that. His son, his friend, his carer and I, grabbed the sheet and carried his body into the casket.
The 2 guys threw a blanket on his face, closed the coffin and went.

And Joe was gone.


28th of August 2014

Dad was beautiful and dignified. They had dressed him in his forest ranger uniform and his hair was shining.

We are all here around the open coffin: Mum, my sisters, their kids, and my brother in law. The kids had brought some flowers and drawings for him to take to heaven. One of the drawings was a heart with 2 big boobs, to make Papilou laugh.

Mum asks me to sing the song here instead of during the ceremony.
I chose Im Telech (if you go) by the Idan Raichel Project
One of the most peaceful moments ever.

Then, they closed the coffin, and each of us drove a screw into the wood.

And Dad was gone.



October 2014

Hollywood is in Malta for the shooting of By the Sea.
Funny, when you think that this story started 5 years ago in Hollywood.
I got a tiny part as an extra in one of the scenes.
And here I am, 5 years later, standing right next to Mrs. Jolie and her husband.
I couldn't care less about acting.
I probably thought that the dream was not over yet, like a glimpse of faith. That I would, maybe, be finally lucky enough to present my project to them.

The truth is that we were just puppets in a million dollar world, where everything is fake and no words are spoken.

The best part of it? To be pampered by the make-up artist and the hairdresser....and oh, to watch the hot German lighting technician at work.


The only thing I have to understand and to accept is
That
This is the end.



Anne Catisson

To Joe
To Dad


Lyrics from http://www.hebrewsongs.com/song-imtelech.htm


IM TELECH
IF YOU LEAVE
Im Telech, mi yechabek oti kacha
Mi yishma oti besof hayom
Mi yenachem veyargia, rak ata yodea.

Ve'Im telech, lemi achake bachalon,
besimla shel chag sheyagia,
yechabek oti cacha, cmo she'ata magia

Kshe'telech la'shemesh
etze basade hamuzhav,
boker ve'erev
Yare'ach yair et panai,
she'cholmot col hayom rak alecha.

Kshe'tavoh, tisa oti bishtei yadeicha,
misadeh lanahar tirchotz et panai
vetagid li milim cmo sherak ata yodea.

If you leave, who will hold me like this
Who will hear me at the end of the day
Who will sooth and comfort me, only you know how to

And if you leave, who will I wait for in the window,
in a holiday dress,
to come and hold me like this, as you come home.

When you leave,
I will go to out to the sun in the golden field,
morning and evening.
The moon, will light up my face
which dreams only of you all day long.

When you return, you will carry me with both arms,
from the field to the river, wash my face
and tell me words, as only you know how to.








Thursday, July 3, 2014







As long as there is peace and love in your heart, there is peace in your world






Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Week-end in Ramallah, West Bank or "Né en 17 a Leidenstadt"



Friday, 29th of July



In the sherut to East Jerusalem. My sister calls me.
Hey, where are you?”
I am on the way to Palestine”
Wow! You are so lucky!”

There is something beautiful about naivety. A comfortable state of mind. And happiness.
Like you wouldn’t tell a child that Santa Claus doesn't exist, I didn't tell her that the Palestine of her Magic Land was just a dream.


Souli gave me the direction to Zaman Cafe in Ramallah. I contacted him via couchsurfing.org to ask whether I could stay at his place for 1 night. It was a last minute request but Souli replied immediately.
Zaman Cafe turns out to be the new “à la mode” place where to be.
14 shekels ( 2.80euros) for a cappuccino. Yes, I am in Palestine.
Foreigners and locals, businessmen, youth, conservative and liberal local women, are gathering, chatting, laughing or working on their computers.
If not for the IDF soldiers on duty at every corner of the city, I could forget for an instant that I am in the West Bank.

Souli is working on his computer, making sure he can take a break from work for the week end. He tells me that he could help me with my Hebrew as he speaks it fluently as well as Arabic, his mother tongue. He apologizes for keeping me waiting.
No worries. Yesh li zman” ( I have time )
He looks around, horrified but glad that no one heard me. “No Hebrew here” he whispers.
The reality of Palestine.
What you don't see on the other side, because it is well hidden.
The fear, the hatred, the violence, the tragedy.
Here, it's a daily struggle.

He takes me to his place, a very nice brand new clean and tidy apartment. He makes me feel at home, offers food and drinks...the same extraordinary generosity and hospitality I had experienced last year in Bethlehem.
We spend the whole afternoon sharing ideas. A very deep and interesting conversation.
Souli is the co-founder and director of an organisation promoting dialogue between Israeli and Palestinian youths. He organises football tournaments with mix teams, locally and abroad. His life story is quite impressive.
Arrested at the age of 14 for injuring a Israeli soldier with a knife, he spent 10 years and 5 months in jail. That is where he learnt Hebrew.
In 2003, he was chosen to take part in a life experience he would have never imagined possible to be. A 35days-trip to Antarctica, together with 3 other Palestinians and 4 Israelis.

I didn't accept straight away. I needed to think about it. One month in a confined and tough environment with...the enemy. It was the first time in my life I met Israelis who were not soldiers”. ( http://www.breakingtheice.org/the-journey/antarctica-journey )

Since, he devoted himself to promote interactions between both cultures through sports. “ With football, they play the same rules. They don't really need to communicate much. The important is that they play together as a team. Not against each others.”

Today, 1600 youths are part of the organization. A team of 25 Israeli and Palestinian youths is flying to Australia where they will take part in an international tournament during the whole month of August. ( http://www.afdd-pal.org/ )
His work is not appreciated by everyone within the Israeli community or within his own community. But his work brings him and others a glimpse of hope for a better future. Kids are the leaders of tomorrow.
He is also one of the founders of Combatants for Peace. His story, as well as other personal stories of Israelis and Palestinians who were once fighting each other, can be found on their website at http://cfpeace.org/?cat=6&story_id=686 .

In the afternoon, one of his friends comes around for coffee. She is 25. American/Israeli Jewish.
She made her Aliyah 5 years ago. She was engaged to an Israeli man and she lived in Tel Aviv until she realized she had been brainwashed.
There was never nothing in the news about how many people had been killed in Palestine. All you could read and see in the local media was about how many Israelis had been killed and how we had to protect ourselves from the possibility of rockets hitting Tel Aviv. I was terrified by Palestinians. They were my enemies. I eventually learned about what was happening on the other side through my family and friends in the States.
Later, I got a job as a photographer to cover a demonstration in the West Bank. I was so scared. I met the Palestinian man in charge of the protest to tell him that I was Israeli Jewish, thinking “ he is going to kill me”. But, he just smiled and said “ Welcome. You are the most important person here today. Because you came to free your mind from its occupation””
Since, she became a peace activist and she broke up with her fiancée. He told her she was a traitor. She has been living in the West Bank, in Hebron, Bethlehem and Ramallah, for the past 2 years. She speaks both Hebrew and Arabic. “ Everyone knows I am Jewish. During the first year here, I felt that I had to tell everyone I met that I was Jewish. To not be scared any more. I was scared to be killed”.

In the evening, a friend of Souli invites us for dinner. Once again, really welcoming. We then drive to the centre of Ramallah and we stop in a nice fancy pub.
Many foreigners are here.
The whole word is here. Mainly to work with Peace Organisations.
Money is here too. A lot of it. Money is necessary for the economical growth. But who really benefits from it?

I look around the town. There is such a gap between the different cultures. Conservative Muslims, Liberal Muslims, Christian Palestinians, foreigners, and Israeli soldiers.
Even though some women show their shoulders and décolleté, Souli asked me to keep my shoulders covered while walking around.

it's better we don't get to much attention on us”.

He is a liberal Muslim and he really is one of the most open minded persons you could meet here. Still, he is aware of that culture gap.
The occupation and the oppression make it easier for conservative Islam to spread and to gain power.
He also knows hatred, traitors and enemies.
The only Israelis that the Palestinians meet are the IDF members. The soldiers. With guns.
Israeli = enemy. And any one working towards peace = traitor.

I'm an outsider in Palestine. And I feel oppressed here. Oppressed by the presence of the army, by the wall, by the atmosphere of hatred.
And oppressed by this culture gap too.

I am told that I could be part of the elite here. Massage therapy is a business to take. The Palestinian elite and the foreigners would love it and would pay good money for it, Souli says.
Making money in Palestine. That vision had never occurred in my mind.
I wanted to volunteer in Palestine. Now I am told that I could make a very good living here.
In an occupied territory. Awkward. Seriously?.
To teach massage therapy to Palestinian women would be something I would most probably love to do. Is there any opportunity?

On the next day, after an amazing breakfast in a typical Humus place, I'm queuing at the Check-Point.
45Minutes stuck in a 1m wild corridor made of iron bars.
A herd. A herd of human beings. Animals, yes, that how we look like right now.
Palestinians are so patient. They queue silently. Some don't make it to the other side. They are denied entry into Israel.
The soldier at the counter today: a very young woman, probably not even 20.

A never ending story. In a very inhuman way, Israel wants to protect its people with the occupation and the oppression. But the wall is not only encouraging the culture gap. It is also encouraging both anti-Semitism and hatred towards Muslims.
And it's business.
It's a World War Business.

Is there a way to peace here?
When I came back from Ramallah, I had lost every kind of hope.
You're lucky, you had hope for 35 years. I lost hope when I was 5 ” Merav says.

I waited for a few days to write this post. The time to flush out the bad thoughts.
During the past month, I experienced emotions and thoughts that I believed I could never experience, because, hey, I am a good person.
No, no, no. It doesn't work that way. I did feel hatred of every kind, I did have racial thoughts.
About everything and everyone and every side.
Not for a long time. On specific occasions. But long enough to be disgusted by myself. I felt like a double agent because I did love and hate both people.

Once, Terry, a dear friend who worked as a counsellor, had told me
we can't know what love is, if we don't experience hatred. It is a necessary feeling”
I don't know hatred. I don't hate anyone”
oh yes you do. At specific times. We all do. When you're stuck in a traffic jam and you wish you could kill the guy behind you just because he is swearing at you, that's hatred. And don't tell me you've never experienced that! “

Well Terry, I've now experienced hatred through a different perspective.
Ready for more love!

There is still hope on a human level here.
People need hope and love here.
I've met beautiful people on both sides.
People who interact with the other side.
They are the hope and love of tomorrow.

Et qu'on nous épargne à toi et moi si possible très longtemps,
D'avoir à choisir un camp”

from Né en 17 à Leidenstadt by Jean-Jacques Goldman, French Jewish singer/song writer/composer/musician/producer
Full song with English subtiltes on youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yAhiQxA-f84




Friday, July 15, 2011

Identity crisis in Israel, the ''Magic Land''

It's 6.30am, Thursday the 14th of July.
I'm on my way out of Tel Aviv to feel the other side of Israel.
To feel a glimpse of Arabic culture.
To get out of that bubble where we live denying the pain.
Our own pain, the pain of people struggling to know who they are, the pain of children who once had been told about ''Magic Land''.

I am the only foreigner among 50 young male and female soldiers in the bus to Natzaret.
They are 17, 18 years old.
They wear the uniform, their weapon resting on their lap.
For 3 years they are taught how to defend Israel, their ''Magic Land''.
For 3 years they are taught how to use a weapon, how to protect their people.
For 3 years they are taught about the enemy.
It's not a choice. It's compulsory.

Where were you at 17? What was your life like at 17?
School, clubbing, boyfriends, hangovers...
Weapons and enemies? Oh yes, you know those words. You were 7years old. You were playing cowboys and Indians with a plastic gun and a piece of wood for weapon and you had orange juice and cake with your enemy at 4pm in the garden at the back of your parent's house.

It's always easy to judge and say, ''If I were them....''.
Well, you are not them.
You don't know how they have been raised and educated.
And when it comes to education, Israel excels.
I've started the Oulpan course 4 days ago only. I'm already able to read and write Hebrew. Their teaching methods are extremely good.
4 days....
I can only imagine the effects of 17 years of education about the enemy and the promised land...


The Holy Land.
Magic Land”.
I've been taught about it too. And I am here with the expectations and dreams a child would have if he could visit the North Pole and Santa Claus.

Magic Land”: where an angel brings a superhero baby and a wonderful daddy to a beautiful young woman in a grotto, where the 3 wise men follow the star to find them, where the superhero can multiply bread and fish and can walk on water, where miracles happen, where love and forgiveness rule, where people die but don't really die...”
and then we are taught about ”Jesus, the Jew of Natzaret, the King of Jews.”
Oh, wait a minute. So Jesus was a Jew? So, am I a Jew?

Then our history teachers and our grandparents teach us about World War II and about the atrocity of the Holocaust.
We are from Metz, a town which was under German occupation, a town where Jewish people had been persecuted for centuries even before the Holocaust.
The holocaust can not happen again. We have to love and to protect Jewish people.
When I was a child, I was always impressed when meeting a Jewish person because of what their people had been through. I had a lot of respect for them. And just because they were Jewish, I felt they were really special and that we had to help them just like Jean Paul Belmondo helped that little boy in the movie “ l'As des As”.

We grew up with the idea of Israel being the “Magic Land” and with a lot of respect and admiration for the Jewish people.


And today I am in “Magic Land”.
I fall asleep in the bus. The bus driver wakes me up. I am the only one left.
Where are you going?”
Nazareth”
To the church? Why didn't you tell me. We are in Nazareth Illit. That is not where you want to go”
I don't understand at first, still half asleep. And then I look around.
Ah...A nice white clean neighbourhood. A Jewish settlement.
No, he's right, it's not where I want to go and most of all, it's not where they want me to be.
He continues, really nicely : “you want to go to the Old city. Take bus number 1 and ask for the church. Have a nice day”

And 15minutes later, I am in Arabic Nazareth. Another world. Far from the illusion of “Magic Land”.
I can't feel the Holiness of the place. I can only feel the pain. Just like I did last time I went to East Jerusalem and to Bethlehem.
The pain of people, who have been taught too, about their “Magic Land”.

I can't help myself, but thinking about the other side of Israel makes me sick.
I feel like puking. I have been taught to love Israel as the Holy Land, to love Jewish people because of what they have been through and now I am facing another reality.
What is Israel doing? Haven't people learnt from the Holocaust? Why are they persecuting others? Have we been protecting the wrong people? Who do you call traitors then?
And there is that horrible feeling in me, a feeling that I am trying to fight. That odd feeling when you realize that you have been betrayed.
Writing those words are really painful. How can I think this way? How can I dare think badly about Israel and Jewish people? I always preached for peace and tolerance, I organized a concert with an Israeli group, I always felt close to Israel. I am leaning their language and I am loving it. But, in the Jewish world, in their powerful network, if you are not Jewish, and if they can't benefit from you, then, you don't exist.

And you might think: how stupid she is! We know that. We read the news. We watch TV. Everyone knows about what is happening in Israel.

If you have never been here, you don't know.
There is a difference between to know, to see, to feel. If you don't live the situation, you don't know.
I didn't know about what I was able to feel before I came here.
And I don't know what Israeli people and Palestinian people feel.
They have their own beliefs, their own education, their own family history, their own identity crisis.
I don't know much about the different Arab communities yet.
But there are already many different groups within the population of Israel,within the Israeli community, within the Jewish community.

What difference does it make to be a Jew, a Jewish, an Israeli, a Oleim Chadash (new immigrant), an asylum seeker, a working migrant? How do they live the conflict, how do they see the country? How do they feel about each others?

Walking in the old city of Nazareth, I try to process all those feelings while listening to the Arabic music coming from the market.
I pass in front of the church of the Annunciation. I don't want to enter first.
But I need to know about my own identity. I eventually spend a couple of hours inside. And I have to admit that yes, I am Christian. I don't believe in the Church. But I believe in “Magic Land”. All those stories are part of my childhood, I loved those stories when I was a child, like I loved stories about Santa Claus, like I loved the fairy tales of Disneyland. They are part of my identity.


Yesterday, Merav and I had a very interesting conversation with an American Jew who was visiting her family in Tel Aviv. She was trying to understand where she came from, where to stand as a Jewish American in regards with what is happening in Israel. She wanted to see the other side of Israel. And she was struggling.
Since I was a little girl, I have been taught that we, Jewish people, are the Elite, that we are the best in all what we do, that we are good people, that Israel is our land and that we have to support and to protect our land and our kind. We, American Jews, are here to protect Israel. And we send money to Israel and we have strong networks. That how I have been raised. But now, I see what the money we sent has been used for, I see what we have been doing to Palestinians. And I can't bare it”
Her family in Israel is pro-Israeli and she can't talk openly about her feelings with them. She feels that she is betraying her own kind. She doesn't know who she is any more and what to believe about her ”magic land” and she wants to spend some time both in Israel and Palestine to understand.

Thinking about her who is Jewish, and about Merav who is Israeli Jewish, who lives here and who lived the war, I can only imagine the sorrow and the struggle they go through within their own community, trying to adjust their own beliefs, struggling with their own identity crisis.

People always say: Why don't Israelis stand up against their government? Well, some do. But when raised in a country where you have been brainwashed about the enemy and about your Elite, it takes a lot of courage to stand up because you are not only saying no to the government. You are also questioning you own roots, your own family and you feel and are being seen as a traitor.

And I find it difficult?
I can only imagine their pain...


On my way back from Natzaret to Tel Aviv, I take a sheirut driven by an Arab-Israeli. Four Muslim women laugh at my “ Salamou Alaykoum” and offer peanuts and snacks.

In the evening, Merav takes me out to a concert. She got 2 free tickets from a friend who can't make it.
On the way, the bus is stopped. The police are here, the road is blocked. No one pays attention.
Merav says: “ it's common. They found a suspicious bag or parcel. They will destroy it and leave.”
10 minutes later, we move again.
it's part of our lives. Not a big deal for us. Something looks suspicious, we call the police, they come, they don't waste their time trying to figure out what is in the bag, they just get rid of it. The problem is that we are so protective and so alert about everything that we became aggressive. I don't agree with that. We don't need to be aggressive”

The concert turns out to be a Upper Class fund-raising event in aid of the association helping men and women victims of sexual abuse. There is a cocktail party with plenty of food and drinks. We get good seats on the 6th row. The Minister of Education opens the evening. The artists are superstars Israeli rock singers of the 90s, Michah Shtryt and Arqady Douchym.
A volunteer, herself victim of sexual abuse, comes on stage to share her story.
She explains how she, as a child, loved her father, and how she, as an adult, wants to see him dead.

And I can't help myself wondering:
How did She live the war?
How did She live her 3 years holding a gun during her military service?
How did She live her identity crisis?
What does the Israeli-Palestinian conflict mean to her?

I can't even imagine...

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Chaval al hazman


Home. Walking. Library. Walking. Beach. Walking. Home
The shortest way to describe the past 2 weeks in Tel Aviv

Merav has been really helpful again. I couldn't thank her enough. She found a room for me in a shared apartment and she even lent money the time a bank transfer went through. On refugee day, she invited me to the screening of “ Desert Flower”, the true story of Waris Dirie, UN Ambassador for the abolition of female genital cutting. A must watch.

Liran, my flatmate, is a really nice guy. Iraqi-Israeli, he is a peaceful man when it comes to politics.
I am told that only a minority of people think that way.

South Soudan is to be recognized as a State by Israel, but Palestine is not.
The Flotilla and the Peace Meeting in Palestine have been banned.
People in Tel Aviv watch the news on TV like if it had happened on the other side of the planet.
And yet, we are so close from the wall.

Who am I to judge anyway? I'm in my own bubble, enjoying beautiful sunsets on the beach. While another world is on fire, just a few kilometres away.

I still wonder why I made the choice to come back here.
Can't find a job without a visa. Not Jewish. So why Israel?
The luxury of choice...
Well, for now I'm learning some Hebrew. I start the intensive 6week-Ulpan course as from tomorrow.

Chaval al hazman ( pronounced Raval al hazman )
If you literally translate it, it means : it's a waste of time
But it actually also means the opposite.

My stay in Israel is ….Chaval al hazman....
Don't know how to translate it yet.


Saturday, June 25, 2011

Open Door

24th June 2011.


24.
According to some numerological experts, 24 is the number representing Harmony, harmony of the creation, double harmony between sun and moon ( 24h day+ night) and many biblical references find a signification to number 24.
Oh, and did you know? Apparently,monkeys urinate 24 times a day. Pretty amazing uh?


24.
It seems to be The date
24th of July - Ra'anana
24th of October - Malta
24th of June – Tel Aviv

3 concerts.
And a wound to heal.

To me, number 24 represents Music, Dream, Faith, Love, Disappointment, Hate, Sorrow, Introspection, Acceptance and Forgiveness.


After “Within my walls”, comes the new album of Idan Raichel “Open Door” with India Arie.
Believe it or not, their first concert is held in Tel Aviv 2 days after I land.
Should I go?
Not sure. I can't really afford it.
And, I've never really accepted the fact that Idan didn't listen. He never did.
The concert in Malta was beautiful.
But the artists didn't understand why they were here.
They would probably never do.
They don't know the story, they can't understand it.
If only he had listened...
If only I had found a way to speak his language. Maybe there would have been a “Gift of Acceptance”.

I went to the concert last night.
Full House at the Opera.
Really good show. Amazing performance.
There were 8 artists on stage. India and Idan, 2 awesome back-up singers, 4 musicians. Songs were for some in English, for some in Hebrew. A perfect fusion of both cultures. They are so talented. They've got true gifts.
The audience sang along with them. There was harmony in the room.
I didn't know India Arie. She's a sunshine on stage.
The day I get married, I want her song “The Truth” at the wedding!

After the show, I went backstage.

Idan knows about this blog. I sent it to him after the concert in Malta because it is not in my habit not to tell people face to face what I feel.
I usually speak my mind.
But he didn't listen. And words were there. In the need to be told.
So I wrote the words.
I did hate him. Until I realized that I hated myself even more.
He disappeared from all my web social networks connections after that. You don't really keep in your contacts someone who writes that you are a prick who can't communicate.
Backstage is never the right place for deep conversation. I know that.
I know I shouldn't be there and that he probably don't want to see me here.
But I went for my own inner peace. To heal the wound.
To plant a flower.

I just wanted to tell you that I don't hate you ”

Done.

SHALOM


Open Door. Then there is brightness. But you still can't see. The light blinds you. Step out. It' is the only way to look at what there is on the other side of your walls.


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Daydreaming

Sunday the 19th of June.

We are on our way to the house.
We stop to buy a card. A red flower on a black background.
Ludi helps me find the words:

A Jolie Histoire

Two years of my life dedicated to you.
Without knowing it, you were the start of an adventure.
With no agenda, might it inspire you like you inspired me,
Thank you,
Anne


I grab a flower from the front porch of a house and I slide it in the spiral of the manuscript.
The house looks empty. A minivan. A couple of cars in the alley.
It might not be the one. They might have rented different houses.
I approach the guard. Ludi waits in the car.
Good morning! Would it be possible to pass on this gift to Mrs Jolie?”
Hold on please”
The guard calls the chief of security
Good morning Sir. Would there be a chance to pass it on to Mrs Jolie?”
You need to understand that I can't confirm that Mrs Jolie is staying here and I can't guarantee that it will be given to her”
I understand”
What do you want to do with it?”
I still take the chance. Here. Take it. Do you need my I.D. card? “
No. I still can't confirm that she will get it”
I know”


Inshallah.
She might never get it. But who knows?
Everything started in Malta. And it ends in Malta.

In the evening, we find out that she had been visiting the refugees in the south of the island at the time we were in front of her house. The same centre for refugees where I volunteered last year. Funny.

Tuesday the 21st

I'm writing. Luggage packed. I'm flying in the afternoon.
Next stop: Tel Aviv.

And I'm daydreaming.
Of... a hair-dryer and of a walking-in closet and of an iron.
Yes an IRON! I want an iron! And shirts to iron.
And children running and playing
And running,
Around the house with their father,
Playing music.
Noise. Beautiful noise.




Saturday, June 18, 2011

Me, Malta and...Angelina?


End of April 2011.
No more snow. Season is over in Vars les Claux.
Worked 7days a week for 2months.
Spent 24h/day with my employers, an amazing couple, going through a very difficult time with faith and hope.
Slept on a mattress on the floor, sharing the spare room with a bunch of geraniums.
A 88years old man died of natural cause in his car in front of the spa. I sat next to him, holding his wife's hand the time the ambulance came. They were married for 60 years. That day, I wished for the same fate.


The month of May 2011 was all about family and friends in France.
Happiness.


31st of May. I am in Barcelona. Holiday.
While walking randomly in the city I find myself in the Jewish neighbourhood. A shop is playing Boee by Idan Raichel and I end up visiting one of the oldest synagogues in Europe.
Now it's official, I've been cursed!
The city is awesome. Gaudi was a genius,Alen Garagig is the most talented guitarist I have ever seen and Genius Loci is one of the most fascinating art exhibitions I have ever been to.

4th of June. Malta
Back on the scene of the “crime”.
A sour feeling.
7 months later, I am still recovering.
Recovering from my mistakes.
Recovering from the knockout my French pride suffered from.

The worst is that no one knocked me out. I did it myself.
No one can take your dignity away but yourself.

Everyone is proud of me. My parents. My family. My friends.
Yes, I did organise a concert for Peace and Tolerance, a cultural inter-exchange between a Maltese artist and an Israeli group, a Daniel Pearl World music days Event.
A beautiful concert.
Despite the lack of resources, despite my lack of knowledge, despite the obstacles, despite what people could think.
But I didn't succeed.
Why?
Because I lost thousands of Euros?
Because I lost faith?
Because I realized that I am not ready to run a NGO?
Because I couldn't see love anymore?
Because I was not able to communicate with anyone anymore,including myself?
Because I experienced hate?
Because I didn't feel at peace?
Because I was ashamed?


No one can take your dignity away but yourself.
Stand up. Keep your head up
All you need to do is to turn around, to look back, to look at the story from a different angle.

Well...Let's say that I suffered from muscle soreness for a few months!


So yes. I am in Malta for a few days.
To take responsibility for my actions.
And to close down Pamper the World.
I have realized that to run a charity organisation is much more than voluntary work, much more than commitments.
It's a business
I can't run a NGO. I can't run that kind of business.
I'm not ready or I'm not good at it or both. I don't know yet.


Ludi and all my friends here have been really supportive as always.
No drama! You had a good idea, you did so much good around you, the concert was fantastic. No one here think you're a looser!


I'm enjoying sunny Malta and all what this beautiful island has to offer.
And apparently, I am not the only one.....


You know who is here?” Ludi says
Who's that?”
Angelina Jolie. Brad Pitt is shooting a movie in Malta “
You're kidding? You mean that I went all the way to L.A. 2 years ago, just to meet her and that, today, after all those adventures, after I close down the association, she is here when I am here !!!!????
yep”

 
She is in Malta.
I tried absolutely everything I could while in L.A., to meet celebrities.
I had that crazy idea: to work in the film industry as private massage therapist for the crew to then be able to volunteer with people the most in need.
To use massage therapy as psychological, physiological and emotional support to people victims of violence.
That how the whole idea of Pamper the World was born.
I needed to fund my project. There is money in Hollywood. I went for it. No luck then!

She 's here?
What should I do?
Should I try to meet her?
What for?
What would I tell her now?

That she has inspired 2 years of my life and maybe more....

Every end has a beginning and the beginning was her...

I could, maybe, just give her a copy of this blog.
110 pages?
Yes. Like a book.
It's pretty funny....no?

I am leaving the island on Tuesday.

Saturday the 18th. 01H00

Ludi is waiting for the last few words of this post to print it....

Should I?



Friday, April 1, 2011

"Des hommes et des Dieux" ( "Men and Gods")

Vars les Claux.
25 more days in this natural monastery.....Lent time....my spiritual resurrection is in the making... 
Now, I know why God sent me here.....
Inner Peace, planting flowers in my Garden.
here, it's just: working, eating, sleeping and there is really nothing to do after work except thinking and learning.....
I am in need of meeting civilization again....aaahhhh :-)!!!!!!!! 
I suppose that I need this break to jump back into Life again. 

A few weeks ago, Milena and I went to The cinema of the village to watch " Des Hommes et des Dieux ".
We were only 10 in the room.

I didn't know anything about this movie, didn't know what it was all about....
I was speechless. I didn't cry during the movie. 
A weird feeling...something was bothering me...can't describe it
No, nothing to do with death and terrorism....

I believe I was touched by a message....
The power of your own faith, beliefs and choices
I cried all night and the day after
Peace was on its way...

"Des Hommes et des Dieux". A must watch on the Way to Peace....  
A lesson about Life
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cPDXEdG4NyM

Friday, March 11, 2011

What next?....

5 days in East Jerusalem at the New Palm Hostel.
The divided city, the Holy Land, the tensions, the sirens of the American Red Cross Ambulances,the prayers, the falafels, the Israeli Museum, Mount Olives, and the sunset on friday night at the Western Wall and the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
I didn't have much time last summer to visit the place. This time, I walked all over the city.
I dropped my CV in a few spas, got a phone call from Mamilla Hotel, but the visa was an issue.

2nights in Eilat at Corine's Hostel.
" you're one of us" the receptionist says
"Excuse me?"
"You're Jewish, aren't you?"
"Uh no, I am not"
" yeah you are! you're from North Africa, you are a Jewish Arab! !look at you!!!"
????

Uh....nope....
Funny.... at the Al-Asqua Mosque, the guards thought I was a Muslim....

Well, whatever.
Even though I could apparently pretend to be Jewish, the Human Ressource Manager of the Fatal Chain didn't want to apply for the visa.....
An other job offer....an other dead end...

But if I am meant to live here one day, then something will happen
Back in Tel Aviv for a last Israeli breakfast with Merav and Gal.

12 of February 2011. Back in France
17 of February 2011. Arrival at Vars les Claux, tiny sky resort in the French Alps.
Got a job in a spa/hammam for 2 months. I couchsurf at my employer's. A couple in their late 30's; He is French, she is from Ukraine. Good vibes, very busy at work, amazing food and wine, studying Hebrew while sunbathing at 2500m.

What next?
Well, I ll be working till the end of April
From May, on the road again.....
First in Spain with Carol, a friend from Argentina
Then Malta for a couple of weeks, the time to close down all accounts of Pamper the World. Yep, time to move on. When I will find home, then I might be ready to give to others again. Right now, I need to settled down and to pay for my debts....the cost of helping others....my mistake. Not to help, but to give more than what I had....

And in June, I should be back in Tel Aviv.
As for this blog, not sure to keep on writing....maybe once in a while....

ah...and  the Way to Peace?

well....
I think that peace is like an inner garden. You constantly need to care for it, you need to learn and to understand the plants and flowers and the nature around, to water it, and sometimes a storm passes by and washes it away.....and sometimes you plant the wrong plant, at the wrong place, at the wrong time....like I did...
My garden is only half alive.....
I now have to give life back to the other half....
Then I should find Peace

And You?













Thursday, February 3, 2011

Tel Aviv, coffee, concerts and amazing people


Mid-January 2011.
I am back.
Walking in the middle of the night with my backpack in Tel Aviv.
Not sure where to go, didn’t book anything….
Yes I am here to settle down. …!!!???
Jewish? No, I am not.
Weird and crazy? Uh…yeah…pretty good at that!
You see, …my soulmate is hiding here somewhere.
So if you see him, just be kind enough to tell him that I am around the corner or send him to the Lost and Found office, Thanks!

Maybe, yes, I am crazy.
But I am where I want to be and where I feel I should be.
Just take that for an answer.

And Tel Aviv is a great place where to be. Here is what the city has to offer:

1.       The best Hostel: Florentine Hostel, 10 Elifelet Street in Florentine
I highly recommend it to any traveler. It’s in a kind of penthouse, walking distance from the beach, Old Jaffa and the centre of town. There are only 25 beds, it’s really clean, cozy, you will feel like at home and it’s the best rate in the city: 66shekels/night including breakfast, free wifi/internet, tea and coffee, sheets and towels.
I met a bunch of really nice people, some staying here for a few weeks. Vince,from Ohio, spoilt us with dvd’s nights. We watched The Informant, The Tourist, The Proposal and he got us hooked on Entourage, a L.A. TV show.
The manager is a cool guy. You can give him a hand with the maintenance or housekeeping for free nights, like many travelers do.  I got 2 nights for a 1hour massage session (professional back massage only. no, nothing extra!)
Ladies, be aware: like any other Israeli man, he loves women. He will generously offer you to sleep in his bed. What???? Well, yeah, it’s a cultural thing here ladies…don’t get offended. A common offer that you will hear more than once during your stay in Tel Aviv.  Your choice.

2.       Concerts

Music is everywhere around the city. You can enjoy any types of parties, concerts or festivals.
So far, I’ve been to 3 concerts:
-          Noa and Gil Dor performing with Radiodervish at a fundraising event for the first Arab-Israeli Museum in Israel to be built in Um El Fahem.  It was a kind of private event. But well, that wouldn’t stop me…My sister introduced me to Noa’s music 15 years ago. I had told her that, once in Israel, I would get an autograph for her. Not that we really care about a piece of paper. It’s just a thing between sisters, you know. So, on the night of the concert, I asked at the door if there were tickets on sale.
“ Who are you? Are you a General “?  …meaning, are you someone important?….
“Uh no, I ‘m just a tourist who heard about the concert…”
“Well, tickets are expensive,250 Shekels ( 60 Euros) it’s a fundraising event .But if you wait until it starts ,I might let you in for less”.
I got in for 100shekels. Beautiful concert. Noa was like a sunshine entertaining the audience with a few jokes,  that I didn’t get (in Hebrew). She can sing and play percussions at the same time. What a voice! To my surprise, half of the audience left the room when the Palestinian/Lebanese artist was performing.
So, all those “Generals” came to donate money for an Arab-Israeli project, but most of them left after Noa’s performance…..
Whatever.
 I am not a General, but I am really honored to have contributed to such a project and I truly enjoyed the show till the end. Noa and Nabil Salameh even sang Imagine in Hebrew.
And I have the autograph for my sister J!

Ravid Kahalani and Black Seeds at Levontin 7
Ravid is one of the artists of the Idan Raichel Project. I was curious to listen to what he does when not singing with Idan. There was another group performing before them, the Chicken Fish. I didn’t really like their music except for one song. But Ravid and the Black Seeds were absolutely amazing! Wow, explosive. Not only Ravid was at his best, all the members of the group were extraordinary musicians. I feel terribly sorry for not staying till the end of the show. They started late, at midnight, and the venue was suffocating. I needed some fresh air; 3 hours in this underground bar was more than what I could take.
If you are in Tel Aviv in February, Ravid will be performing with Sahara Desert Groove on the 16th. Check www.myspace.com/desertgroove  . Don’t miss it!

Roy Dahan at TMU 8 shoncino Street
Oh. My. God.
This guy is so, so  talented. He has never actually learnt the music. He is an autodidact. He plays the piano, the guitar, he composes, he writes, he produces and he sings in English with a perfect accent (quite amazing for an Israeli singer).
And what? He is still unknown????!!!! Are you kidding? No manager, no agent, no one approached him yet….????
Well, his first album is being recorded. It will be released in a couple of months. Is there anyone in the music industry reading my crazy blog???? That guy needs a producer in Europe or in the States!
Check


3.       The people

Israelis have a bad reputation in the rest of the world. Most people portray them as rude, paranoiac, racist….how ever or whatever the political situation and the media say about them, it’s far from representing what I have experienced during the past 3 weeks here.
Yes, the political situation between Israel and Palestine shouldn’t be, settlements shouldn’t be, the wall shouldn’t be, the blocus on Gaza shouldn’t be.
The Israelis I have met so far don’t agree with their government. I am talking about the age group 30-40 as it is the age group that I am meeting. They’ve grown up in missiles-resistant houses and buildings, they see armored soldiers in every single street, they get their bags checked in any single malls, all they know about Peace is wars and enemies, corruption and negotiations.
Guess what. They are tired of it. They want peace. They speak up. At least, the ones I met.
Some of you might say that I am lucky or naïve.
Well the truth is that I met wonderful people.
Especially 2 persons, 2 angels who have been so warm and welcoming.
I met Merav via www.couchsurfing.org . She is so friendly and caring. She offered to host me for 3 nights and she then introduced me to one of her friends, Gal, a really sweet man, heart in his hand, who is currently hosting me.
Merav works for an NGO providing support to African refugees. www.assaf.org.il/en/   
I thought that the situation in Malta was bad…well it is worst here. They have absolutely no rights. Merav spent a few years in Africa and you can read all about her travels at www.travelblog.org/Bloggers/Merav/Trips/  .  She will be more than happy to discuss every matters concerning Africa with you.
Merav and Gal let me the keys to their flats, they offered accommodation, food, and even a mobile phone and they took me around the city. I could never thank them enough.


4.       Flirts
Ladies, welcome to Israel!
There is one thing you should know about Israeli men. They love to flirt.
Don’t worry, they are well educated. Meaning that, yes, they do stop you in the street to chat you up but they know when to stop if you are not interested.
The equation you’ve got to remember is:

Ride on my scooter = cup of coffee + phone number = here is my bed

Uh and that takes less than 1hour……yes they are pretty fast…..Once again, no worries, you can stop the equation whenever you feel like….your choice J
Uh, just to put it clear here ladies…..the equation doesn’t end by  = love….
Just saying….don’t get too excitedJ!

As for my male friends and readers, well I am sorry I can’t really give you any tips regarding flirts with Israeli women. They are gorgeous, absolutely beautiful and they will hold your eyes, so I bet that you would look down before they do!
Remember that they all did their military service. They won’t get impressed easily
Oh…and just one thing….apparently, motherhood is really important in their culture and children are considered Jewish if the mother is (not if the dad is), so it doesn’t really matter if you are not Jewish yourself or if you don’t stay around…got itJ? ( not a generality, just what I heard)

5.       The language

I love Hebrew. What a fascinating language. Not easy but I am eager to learn.
Everyone speaks English here. So yeah, you can live and travel in Israel without knowing the language. But that would be such a shame!
Every symbol has a meaning. And when you understand the language, you can understand the people. Not only the words, I mean, who they are, the mentality, the way of life.
Oulpan language courses are really affordable. A 5 month-course, 3hours a day, 5 days a week is 650 Euros for the whole period. I would definitely enroll once settled.
For now, I am learning with the ASSIMIL Method. I now can read what I consider like a priority for me:
Any type of Coffees and cheesecakes on the menu of the coffee shop J!
And shampoo and conditioner, to make sure that I buy the right product J!

6.       Coffee and falafel

Here are some of my favorite places so far:

-          For Breakfast: go to a place called Ke’arot in the Yemenite quarter. Best breakfast ever. Everything is served in bowls like the name of the place suggests it in Hebrew. For 45 shekels, you will get coffee, fruit juice, omelette, salad, muesli and yoghurt, butter, feta cheese and bread……yummy……..!!!!!!!!!!!!

-          Coffee: to experience the taste of real coffee, once again in the Yemenite quarter, on Yishkon street, just off the Carmel market, there is a tiny coffee shop, a century old, owned by an old man, a tenor,  who will impress you with is singing skills….really go there. Best coffee in town and special atmosphere.

-          Falafel: Best snack bar is Humus Abu Dhabi on King George Street. Super friendly staff.  If it’s full, you can always ask to share a table with someone. If you have to wait for a seat, the staff will get you a shot of fruit juice on the house. Coffee is also on the house. Super cheap.

7.       Job and Visa
Uh…well…that is the tricky part.
You see, I am not Jewish and I don’t even speak Hebrew yet.
To get a visa, I need a job.
To get a job, I need a visa.
Yeah, not many employers are willing to go through the paperwork, the hassle and the questions from the Ministry of Interior about the reason why they don’t employ a Jewish person instead….
I am looking for a job as a spa/massage therapist. I went to all the hotels/spa of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and I sent CVs to hotels in Eilat, the Dead Sea and Haifa. Most of them work with freelance on-call therapists only.
According to the guy at the visa section, there is no way that I could get a visa to work as a freelancer, unless maybe, I marry a Jewish Israeli guy and even that would not guaranty a working permit.
The new luxury hotel, Mamilla Hotel in Jerusalem was interested in my application until I told them that they had to apply for the visa for me……..haven’t heard from them since….


But well, if it’s meant to be, something will come up….
So yes, I am still jobless, homeless with a huge debt from my last crazy idea….But, let’s be optimistic. I am having a good time and something tells me that I am on the right path
I have a return ticket for mid-February.

If you wonder how I got the money to travel this time....well....ask the French Social Services....

Oh and yes, I still want to Pamper the World and to help the victims of conflicts on a voluntary basis both in Israel and Palestine. But I would not run Pamper the World with the aim of raising money to employ people. Nope. Too much corruptions and politics and jealousy involved with NGOs. I have learnt my lesson. + I am really not a business woman….

I can help with my skills and my time without involving money or politics. We can help. Each of us. Pamper the World would be  more like a philosophy, a movement to encourage therapists and artists to volunteer with victims of conflicts/violence and with people with special needs, handicaps and medical conditions.