Where do we go from here? I can’t go forward, left or right and when I look behind me I stare into Anat’s eyes telling me to move on. But I simply can’t. In front of me four guys have a lively political discussion. They don’t care that they are blocking the path with their plastic bags full of foodstuff. On the left customers are waiting in line to buy their vegetables and on the right people try to leave a stall with their precious tomatoes. People shout to carry on, but nobody seems to listen. This is Mahane Yehuda Market in Jerusalem in the rush hours before Shabbat.
To have a relaxing stroll along the stalls is almost impossible. This is serious stuff: everyone is after food, or flowers. As always I feel attracted towards the colorful and tasteful piles of herbs. Before I can try to have a closer look or smell a cart full of cabbage and, of course, tomatoes, hits me. The person responsible doesn’t take any notice. He is on a mission. Today you have to act like a blind bulldozer.
On the other side, two meters away, I see wonderful big pita bread. How to get there? It’s like crossing a busy highway, without any rules. However, I finally get to the other side, safely. But what’s that landing on my head? A date? Yes, and there comes another one! The seller of the dates, those wonderful big fruits full of flavor with the perfect sweetness, is trying to hit the pita seller, who in turn, throws pieces of bread towards him. Underway hitting shoppers, who, once again, don’t care one single bit.
Time to move on with the still warm pita bread. Watch out, there comes a man carrying beautiful eggs up to his chin. Like an icebreaker he finds his way. While I follow him I see seductive olives in every size next to every kind of fruit you can imagine. But most of all I see people, lots of people. Within a few hours it’s Shabbat and all will be empty and quiet at the market. Welcome to Jerusalem: the city of contrasts. But most of all: Welcome to Mahane Yehuda, where past and present meet.