Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Once Upon a Busy Place in Baka

Bagel Bite is a restaurant in Baka, a neighborhood that used to be home to a few thousand Arabs. Today, it's a blossoming district of Jerusalem neighboring Talpiot and the German Colony, about 40-minutes walk from the center of town, and another 15 to the Wailing Wall. It's a busy place. You'll hear excited voices at any time of the day--or night. There's always something to do here.

Even though I live in a highly contested area, you won’t hear a word of politics at Bagel Bite because it’s a mixed staff of Jewish and Palestinian workers who try to have as much fun as possible while making a living selling bagels, and an assortment of foods ranging from muffins to sushi (sushi was recently added to their already-packed menu).

I've been coming here ever since I moved from Efrat to Jerusalem a year ago. It's a nice place with friendly waiters who do their best to make you happy, leaving you wanting to hand them a big tip. I’ve made some really good friends amongst both the staff and the usual customers. Somehow, I feel this is my “home away from home.” I come to Bagel Bite whenever I have a writing assignment, or need to finish a translation project. In fact, I’m sitting here now writing this.

One of my closest friends at Bagel Bite is a young Palestinian called “Baha.” I recently helped him put together an application to a German university. Yesterday he approached me and thanked me for having performed this act of kindness towards him. And the result: he was accepted to study there! Now, it’s on to bigger and better things for my friend, Baha.

Bagel Bite allows people of different backgrounds to come together for a hearty meal. It’s a place to read a good piece of literature, sip a cup of Latte, or do some work. I’m grateful to the Bagel Bite staff for treating me like I’m one of theirs. Even though I recently started working full-time, I continue frequenting this busy place in Baka in search of the company of good people, and a refuge from all the hustle and tussle of our beautiful capital.

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