Monday, August 25, 2008

Help! I'm in Har Nof and I can't get out!

(another in the ongoing series of "How the bus companies hate me")

I'm going to go backwards here and start with a second story. Tomorrow, bli neder (without a vow, ie, I'm not promising), I'll post the first story. However, the second story does require some first story information. Because of a lesson learned from the first story, I gave myself an hour to get from the neighbourhood of Har Nof to the Tachana Mercazit (Central Bus Station or "CBS"). It takes 20 minutes or so by bus. It takes 45 minutes to walk. Now you have the necessary information.

My sister Pamela had invited me to a women's concert last week at Neve Yerushalayim, a seminary in Har Nof. It was supposed to end at 10:30pm, but I knew I'd have to leave early to get to the CBS in time to catch the last bus to Modi'in, which leaves at 11:00pm. It was a wonderful concert, and I was having a great time, but despite that, when my phone alarm vibrated at 10pm, I whispered "goodbye," exchanged quick hugs and hightailed it out of there. I quickly found someone who could lead me out of Neve, since I was a little turned around, and made it to the bus stop.

The woman who helped me and I chatted for a bit about the concert while we waited for our respective buses. She offered me a ride if she took a cab, but the taxi that stopped wanted too much. Eventually, her bus came, and at the same time, my bus - the 15 - arrived. I hopped on the bus, and for some reason, decided to ask the bus driver if he went to the CBS. Even though I know the 15 goes to the CBS.

Me: "Ata holech l'tachana mercazit?" (Do you go to the CBS?)*
Driver: "no."
Me: "LO?" (no)
Dr: "11 or 15"
Me: "Aval ata hachamesh esrai!" (but you the 15)**
Dr: "I let off, I don't pick up. You need the bus building, not the bus sign."***

* Feel free to correct my Hebrew. It's a constant learning process.
** Yes, the driver was speaking English and I was speaking Hebrew. Eventually I realized this, and started speaking English.
*** In some places, the buses only drop people off. In this case, there was a bus shelter where you stand to get the pick-up bus, and a little past the shelter is a pole with a bus sign on it. That's where he stops to drop off. I don't understand it either.

So he lets me off at the next stop, where I go to the shelter - which claims to be a 15 pickup stop - and wait.

And wait. And wait. After a few minutes, quite strangely, the bus that picked up the woman who helped me earlier drove by again. With the woman still on the bus. Considering she was going farther than I needed to, I'm not sure who was worse off.

Eventually, an 11 comes by. I get on it, and double-check that this bus is going to the CBS. I ask what I think is a "yes or no" question, in Hebrew, and he gives me some long answer.

What I asked: "Ata holech l'tachana mercazit?"
What I expected: "Ken" (yes)
What I got: lots of words that probably translated into something like, "I eventually will arrive at the location you requested, however before I can do that, I have to drive all over the entire city of Jerusalem, getting stuck in small alleys, stopping to yell at people who are walking in the middle of these small alleys, while stopping for a smoke and a coffee, all to make sure you go sufficiently insane and have a meltdown in the middle of some unknown neighbourhood."

Yep. I'm sure that's what he was saying.

I responded, "Slicha?" (excuse me?)

And 3 English speakers on the bus yelled, "Yes. He goes to the CBS."

I wound up sitting behind someone who was wearing a Pacific Northwest NCSY sweatshirt, so I had to ask her if she was from Vancouver. Turns out she is, and we had a lovely chat while we both missed our 11:00pm buses. I arrived at the CBS and tore through the underground tunnel, running across the path between the main roads, and arrived to see:


I got to the stop at 11:06. After leaving the concert at 10. Had I walked, I would have been miserable, but I would have made my bus. Thank G-d I have a sister who lives in Jerusalem, and has a spare bed, and loves me. I waited for her to arrive at the CBS while trying to avoid thinking about how I missed the last performer for nothing, and she and I walked back to her lovely neighbourhood of Nachla'ot, bought a couple of beers (non-twistoffs which I opened without an opener. My teenage years weren't totally devoid of valuable lessons, thankyewverymuch.) and sat in a park chattering away. Eventually wound up hanging out with some of the artists who performed that night at Neve. Had a great time, stayed up too late, was grateful for my sister and her futon and her friends, got up early and went to catch the 10:15am bus home.

Except when I got to the CBS at 10:13, there was no bus...


Jess said...

Your mistake with the first bus driver:

'holech' literally means 'walk'.
When referring to a bus or a method of transport with wheels, use the verb "nose'a" (feminine: nosa'at, infinitive: Leenso'a).

The instant you said 'holech', he knew you were an Anglophone. I mean, your accent probably has a lot to do with it, but 'holech' paints you as a newbie.

Love youuuuuuuuu!

Jessie, your favorite Canadian cousin-in-law who will spend hours on the phone with you correcting your hebrew and doing your homework.

Alissa Altman said...

Jess! So mean to leave a comment and then not include your email address. How'm I supposed to respond?

Love youuuuuuuuuuu, too!

Miss all y'all "little" rugrats.