Maadeva at Magen David Square

Magen David Square, Tel Aviv

Magen David Square, Tel Aviv

At Magen David Square there’s graffiti on the top storey of the tallest building on the spot. A lone busker sang to accompaniment from a large black box that he’d parked by a bench. Maadeva didn’t read the graffiti for what it said and what it meant, he registered the image and thought it good enough for a picture. It was four in the afternoon, and deliciously bright, but he’d checked and learnt that the sun leaves at five this time of the year in Tel Aviv. It was chilly even when he stepped out of the shadows. After he’d inhaled the square for a time Maadeva turned toward the pedestrian street—HaCarmel—to check if he could buy something thick enough to wrap round his camera, for the times when he needed to shove it into his Tumi-brand business-cum-leisure backpack.

On the edge of the square he looked into the shops. The ladies’ leggings displayed before them gave him an idea. Walking down the street, he stopped before a heap of monkey caps, bought the cheapest, deepest one. The vendor said, “todah” with much gratitude, as though the 10-shekel sale meant that much to him. Packing the cap in his bag and with the camera still in hand Maadeva walked down HaCarmel and, not finding a photo-op, and not enjoying the covered bazaar that HaCarmel is for a distance, and sparse of sun afterward, he turned into Shefer Street, and entered Nahalat Binyamin Street, which arcs back toward Magen David Square.

Binyamin was brighter, more cheerful, and pedestrian-only as well, flanked by vendors of watercolors and art-printed bedsheets and pillow covers and varied art objects and trinkets along its length. Maadeva quickened his pace. It did not occur to him to take a picture of a prominent art store that bore an Indian name: Kashi. The name surprised him so. The store had a near-identical twin on the opposite side, and the twin bore also the same name: Kashi. It was a tall store, and it was lean, and it seemed sort of pricey and exclusive. In some way it was suggestive to Maadeva of the real Kashi. He remembers the store now to be orange-colored, but it was perhaps saffron-painted, so as to suit it to its name.

Back in the square the busker’s energy had risen. The man was black, but not African, and even if he was African he wasn’t Sub-Saharan. He was black more from being sunburned all his life unto his present middle-age, and his face was creased with lines so thin they looked like they’d been drawn with a scalpel. Deep, thin lines on smooth, clear skin. The man was dancing to a mid-East tune, perhaps an Egyptian one, or even Lebanese, maybe, but definitely from somewhere close to Israel. Maadeva raised his camera to the man, noting how when he danced his legs showed up as skinny, whereas his jacketed torso displayed a better girth. The busker looked into the camera but he wouldn’t smile. He did attempt to make an impression on Maadeva, though: He stamped his heels harder when the camera was on him.

But Maadeva lost interest in him soon as he’d closed the shutter. His eyes had fallen on the cobblestones, on the dark, deep, sharp-edged shadows of people moving on it.

Magen David Square, Tel Aviv

Magen David Square, Tel Aviv