NOTES FROM ABROAD

Is nothing sacred?
The International Herald Tribune of Oct. 7, 2009, informed its readers that McDonald’s is opening an outlet in the shadow of the Louvre. Some time ago, I read that Starbucks was opening a shop at the Winter Palace in Beijing.
What is next? Kentucky Fried Chicken at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York? Pizza Hut at the entrance to the Vatican? How about an International House of Pancakes at St. Patrick’s Cathedral or a hot dog stand at Yad Va Shem in Jerusalem?
And why not? I am asking you.

Accidental or intentional?
Some time ago, I read about dozen of whales that had beached themselves and died. It is happening on many beaches, on every continent.
We know that whales have big brains. They are intelligent and communicate with one another.
Could it be that by beaching themselves – committing mass suicide – they are trying to communicate to us that the oceans are unlivable; that this is their way of asking for help? Think about it: How else could they communicate to us that we are destroying their environment?

Who is Jewish?
I just read on MiddleEastTruth.com of Oct. 5, 2009 (quoting the Daily Telegraph of Oct. 3, 2009) that the identity card of Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad – who has repeatedly denied the Holocaust and vowed to wipe Israel and its Jews from the map – shows his previous name was Sabourjian. According to Mehdi Khazali, an Internet blogger, Sabourjian is a typical Iranian Jewish name. Khazali, who claims he found documents showing that Ahmadinejad’s father converted to Islam when Mahmoud was 4 years old, was arrested and imprisoned this past summer.
Recently, Israeli TV interviewed an Israeli Jew who claims he has pictures to prove he is Muammar al-Gaddafi’s uncle – that his sister was Muammar’s mother. I am talking about al-Gaddafi, the lunatic who rules Libya, another “friend” of the Jewish people.
Years ago I was told that Hitler’s grandfather was Jewish.
In Russia, they tell me that Stalin’s original name, Djugashvili, means “son of a Jew” in Georgia, Stalin’s birthplace. And that Lavrenty Beria, Stalin’s chief of internal police who was responsible for tortures and executions, was also Jewish.
Was Al Capone Jewish, too? How about Jack the Ripper?
Are all “bad” people Jewish? In Turkey, anybody who is filthy rich is called “Jewish,” and in Mexico, if you are miserly with your money, you are called “Jewish: – as in: “Oh, don’t be Jewish …”
Would someone please try to prove that Mother Teresa’s background was Jewish?
Thank God at least we know Jesus was Jewish.

Travel problems
Product designers and architects must be young people. No matter which hotel I stay in, I encounter the same problem: the shampoo and conditioner bottles have product inscriptions so small that I, an elderly man, need magnifying glasses to read them. Invariably, I have to get out of the shower, all wet, and go hunting for my glasses to be able to read which bottle is shampoo and which is a body gel or whatever.
Young people don’t have this problem – yet.
And bathtubs: Who needs them? I have never used one while traveling, but they sure are dangerous if you must stand in them to shower. At my age, getting in and out of a bathtub, especially if it is wet, is an invitation to slip and break a hip.
Elevators pose another problem. Every elevator maker has a different symbol indicating the lobby. Some use “L,” but it does not always mean “Lobby”; others use “O” – although “O” in some elevators means “Office.” Some use “1” for the lobby, but for others, “1” is the first actual floor of rooms. Some use “P” for the lobby (don’t ask me why), but in other elevators, “P” means “Parking.” “G” stands for the ground floor in some elevators, and the garage in others.
I frequently find myself, like a child, going up and down in elevators, sticking my head out at each floor, trying to find the lobby.
This is not the only inconvenience that a traveler must endure. Showers have many models. There are probably more models than people. Taking a shower is becoming an IQ test, and if you fail the test, you might have to endure a cold shower when you expected a hot one.
In Moscow, I actually could not have my shower until the maid taught me how to regulate the hot water. How is that for a guy with thirteen honorary doctorates?
I wish the International Hotel & Restaurant Association would set some global standards. We do live in a global village, don’t we?

Sincerely,

Dr. Ichak Kalderon Adizes