The Corona Chronicles – A Tiny Taste of Freedom (or: How to Go Shopping and Stay Sane)

I have mentioned in the past – more than once – how I hate shopping.  I know quite a few people for whom a morning spent in an upmarket shopping mall is their dream of heaven 😉  but I am not one of those people. I get tired and bored very easily, progressing from shop to shop and usually, getting all hot and bothered as I try things on, never completely satisfied with any of them.

It took a pandemic, and the ensuing lockdown, to change my mind.

Mind you, I don’t say I would have gone on last week’s shopping expedition if I had not been faced with the choice of using up all the points on a gift-card from my former place of work by the 1st of September, or losing them all, or if my newfound enthusiasm for bakery had not required me to stock up on cake tins, measuring cups, cookie-cutters and various other items of kitchen paraphernalia for which I had previously had little or no need.

Quite apart from my dislike of shopping, I am still afraid to go out anywhere where I am likely to come into close quarters with other people in any significant number, in view of the high rate of infection during this Second Wave of the Chinese Coronavirus and the rather cavalier attitude of  the general public towards the Social Distancing rules. But I had money that I had to spend and things that I had to buy. The gift-card was not one which can be utilised on-line and I was therefore going to have to take the plunge.
Clearly, a Plan of Action was required.

First of all, I made a list of what I needed/wanted to buy. Then, I made a list of all the shops where this particular gift card is accepted, cross-referencing the two lists.

The next step was to decide which shopping mall to favour with my patronage.  I ruled out the Malcha Shopping Mall, the country’s largest, precisely because of its size and popularity, and the likelihood of its being crowded.
My two favourite malls in Jerusalem are the Hadar Mall, in the Talpiot neighbourhood, and the Mamilla Mall, opposite the Old City’s Jaffa Gate. I know I have mentioned the latter before. It is extremely upmarket (ie. expensive) but the shops I had marked off as suitable for my requirements belong to retail chains which have branches in all  of the major shopping malls and their prices are the same in all of them. Mamilla had the added advantage of being an open air mall and, as we are constantly being told, there is less chance of being infected with COVID-19 in the open air.

Mamilla it was then.
I went by taxi as I still dare not risk travelling by public transport.  And as soon as I entered the avenue, lined on both sides by shops and restaurants, I knew I had made the right choice.  Mamilla is more than a shopping mall. It is also an outdoor art gallery with regularly changing displays of sculpture, all of which is for sale. Usually, there is a single theme running through each exhibition of artwork. Very often, this theme is somehow connected with music – as it was this time:

































After so many weeks cooped up indoors, it was like being on holiday. There were even street musicians – such as these two enterprising young boys, who brought a touch of the exotic to a Jerusalem street, with an unusual combination of Spanish guitar and Azerbaijani kamancha,  to remind Israelis trapped by lockdown restrictions and travel bans, of foreign skies and distant horizons.



Sunshine, fresh air, art and music – what more could one ask?

Oh, of course! The shopping! I almost forgot…

Well, I was very methodical about it. First stop, SuperPharm – the only place where anyone bothered to take my temperature at the entrance – to stock up on essential toiletries, in anticipation of another possible lockdown.

Next, to American Eagle Outfitters. Having already checked out their online catalogue and decided exactly what I wanted, I was able to wrap this up fairly quickly. Of course, navigating the changing rooms without touching anything that wasn’t absolutely necessary proved a trifle awkward. Well, impossible, to be quite frank. Fortunately (and surprisingly), the very first outfit I tried on proved to be the right size and a perfect fit. I can’t remember when I last made such a speedy decision about clothes.
Queueing at the checkout point took longer, however and was fraught with anxiety because other people waiting in line seemed to be unaware of the purpose of those painstakingly marked-out circles on the floor, two metres apart, and many of them seemed to think that facemasks were designed to be worn low on the chin, rather than over the nose and mouth! Fortunately, a polite remark did not induce the kind of explosive reaction I have been reading about in American media (or, indeed, that one tends to expect, perhaps unfairly, from Israelis).

Having disposed of half the points on my gift-card, I proceeded to the next shop on my list – Fox Home, to purchase various items of kitchenware.  Ordinarily, I would not have considered much glamour to attach to the acquisition of such mundane items, but Fox Home has some really nice stuff,  colourful and guaranteed to make cooking a pleasure. Goodness! I’m beginning to sound like an advert, aren’t I?  No, Fox Home is not paying me to endorse their products.  Perhaps I should ask them to do so  😉 .
Anyway, besides the cake tins, cookie-cutters and measuring cups previously mentioned, I came away from there with a new bread bin, a set of brightly coloured tea-towels, and a couple of other things which I had never before imagined I would need.  Alas, I forgot to buy a new flower-shaped sponge in their bathroom section  😦  .

I assumed that by now, I had more than used up the points on my gift-card, but I had not taken into account the fact that almost every item in the shop was being sold at a 30 – 40% discount. As a result, I still had about 100 shekels to spare. I hadn’t intended to buy any more books at present as I already have about fifty as yet unread waiting on my library/study shelves – both in Hebrew and English.  But a couple more couldn’t do any harm, and I remembered there was a branch of Steimatzky (Israel’s largest bookshop chain) in Mamilla.
Except that there wasn’t. I walked the entire length of the mall but it was not there!

Oh, well! (I thought to myself). I can easily go into town next week and spend the last few shekels (as you can see, this shopping thing was beginning to grow on me, ha ha ha).  Holding that thought, I decided to head for home.

A couple of days later, I thought I would just check on-line to see exactly how much money was left on the gift-card. Imagine my consternation when I discovered that, in addition to the 102 shekels remaining from my foray to Mamilla,  a further 385 NIS had been added to the card (last year’s Rosh Hashana gift for which, until now, there had been no room on the card)!

So now, I really have no choice but to force myself to make a trip next week to the Hadar Shopping Mall, to spend the rest of the money.

It’s a hard life…

About Shimona from the Palace

Born in London, the UK, I came on Aliyah in my teens and now live in Jerusalem, where I practice law. I am a firm believer in the words of Albert Schweitzer: "There are two means of refuge from the sorrows of this world - Music and Cats." To that, you can add Literature. To curl up on the sofa with a good book, a cat at one's feet and another one on one's lap, with a classical symphony or concerto in the background - what more can a person ask for?
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6 Responses to The Corona Chronicles – A Tiny Taste of Freedom (or: How to Go Shopping and Stay Sane)

  1. Carole Schulman says:

    I think perhaps you showed us several years ago, some scenes from that very place–Mamilla. I was trying to recall what they had on display then. I know it was interesting..however enough time has passed that I don;t recall what it was. AND it could be it was not mamilla.

  2. 15andmeowing says:

    Glad you got to use your gift card and get some bargains. I bet the kitties would like a present next time you go shopping 🙂

  3. what amazing art work on the violins !!!!! I’ll bet you could use your gift card balance on one of them 🙂 the shopping trip was fun; I agree, it is a chore and a bore, but them where I live it’s just….the same thing you find all over the rest of the country….so typically, amazon it is !!
    stay healthee♥♥♥ 🙂

  4. I understand that the trouble with RESIDENTIAL Mamila is that it’s been bought up by wealthy tourists who are only there at certain times of year. Is that correct?

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