Yesterday it was Lag Ba’Omer, and despite the fact that I had managed to avoid attending the traditional bonfire, I thought that I should do something in honour of this “just for fun” festival (if you can really call it a festival). So when I heard that there was going to be a massive fireworks display in Jaffa port, I thought that it would be a nice idea to grab some friends, a blanket, and a bottle of wine and head down to the beach to sit and watch the show. A nice idea in theory, but little did I realise the shear size of the event.
In case you live abroad and are unaware, or decided to be one of the clever ones and stay at home last night, Tel Aviv opened up its beaches and streets to what they expected to be somewhere around the region of 200,000 people last night for the Lag Ba’Omer fireworks display. In the end it seemed more than double that amount, not including a large number of the country’s cars stuck on the Ayalon for most of the night.
Walking through the streets last night was totally overwhelming. People were swarming from every direction towards the beach. Vehicles on the road, searching for places to park, were stopped in their tracks by the pedestrian traffic that poured from the pavements on to the roads, leaving the cars and motorcycles jammed in the thick human gloop. And as a pedestrian you could either be dragged along the current of the crowd, or decide to play the game of leap frog over cars and buses, which is how nooman and I decided to deal with the situation.
I grabbed some food on the way down, and as we stood waiting for the food to be ready nooman turns to me;
I turn and look at people flowing through the streets, all determined to get to the sea, some running, some carrying their children on their backs, helping their wives with the buggies over the pavements.
Hot dog stand customer: You see these people all heading for the beach… crazy people!
Hot dog stand lady: If a Tsunami came now they would all be fucked!
I had to keep reminding myself of the reality of the situation; that this was for a firework display… did even this many people vote in the last elections? I still am struggling to understand what drew all these people from far and wide to wait in traffic, to come to Tel Aviv, to struggle to find parking, to fight with people to walk the streets, to watch a 17 minute firework display, that may I remind everyone was put on by the FRENCH! And there was I thinking that we would at least get a few frog shaped fireworks… but no, as usual the French have no sense of humour!
So after a thrilling 17 minutes, which caused a Ginrod to cry because “it is so beautiful!” we decided to head back to my apartment for a well deserved bottle of wine. Drinking, I began thinking of the connotations surrounding fireworks… the metaphor for all things sudden, magnificent, wonderful… the first amazing kiss being like fireworks. But the thing with fireworks is that they are always short-lived. They disappear into the night sky almost as quickly as they appeared; only leaving smoke trails etched into the background of the sky to linger in their passing… pretty disappointing. In truth the longest standing light in the sky last night, other than the stars (but who nowadays reaches for the stars?), was the flare shot from a gun to show the end of the display. I thought about it more and saw the flare not only lasts longer, but it also has a purpose, something more than “just for fun”. It can save your life. A thought that can be applied further, but this is where I realised I was a little tipsy and thinking a little too much… what’s wrong with every now and then partaking a little “just good fun”? Not everything in life needs to be taken so seriously… does it?