On my way to a meeting last week, to a place I had been before in the heart of Yafo, I found my way blocked by something that looked a lot like an archaeological camp. Too curious to simply find another access to my destination, I stopped and went closer. Yes, definitely, young men and women under a canopy made with thin net, wearing hats that covered their necks as well as the head, were quite clearly scooping the sand and stones in what was until weeks ago a normal, boring secondary street. I was absolutely mesmerized, for a second a thought of joining the youth in the sand, forget about the high heels and office outfit.
Turns out, this is the most normal thing happening every time the city renovates anything that touches the ground: streets, buildings, parks. Really, being from Italy I should not be surprised of the need to check what lies under our feet. But this was the first time I had such a close encounter with the actual compulsory search. Funnily enough, everyone hopes to find absolutely nothing. If anything unexpected, other that garbage, comes out of the sand, oy vey: goodbye street and welcome months and months of lock down area, archaeologists, experts, and workers going deep into the dust. I wonder if the fact that the young people under that canopy in Yafo were high-school kids from the area has anything to do with the hope of finding a zero archaeological interest.
But of course the past here in Israel is so present, so available, that even a new stunning discovery would be digested quickly. A visitors’ center would be built, a “kiosk” selling cold drinks would open, and the travel guide books would only have to add yet another page to the never-ending list of sites offering unprecedented and exciting chapters of remote past.
And since the new underground line is now being built and will cross all Tel Aviv, the little camp I stumbled upon the other day is quite likely only a very dusty beginning.
*Daniela Fubini (Twitter @d_fubini) lives and writes in Tel Aviv, where she arrived in 2008 from Turin via New York.