“Sab Theek Hai”…How often do you hear this whilst travelling abroad? Well, very often if you happen to be in Israel 😃 .
Nope its not that there is a huge Indian population there (atleast not that I came across). This is a greeting we get from the Israeli people. Especially those in their late twenties and thirties.
We saw a genuine love for India and Indians. Unparalleled to anything I’ve experienced anywhere else in the world, to be honest. We were given tables on priority in restaurants (that was definitely a first)…complimentary treats were sent to our tables. “Sab theek hai” practically became a greeting as soon as we would sit down in a restaurant or spend some time in a local store.
On chatting with so many of the amazing people we met and hearing about their stories; we realised that India is a ‘holistic’ refuge for a lot of them.
A lot of this comes from their time in the armed forces. National military service is mandatory for all Israeli citizens over the age of 18, for a minimum of 2 years. They do it for their country, but it’s an experience that affects so many of them at a very deep and personal level.
For these teenagers to be put in the violent front-lines and terrors of political and religious turmoil, at an age when they are awkward, rebellious and still seeking their own identities; is often soul scarring.
India becomes their ‘spiritual detox’. Contrary to what I would have imagined as the places that most Israelis would have been to, or have heard about; its Rishikesh and Kerala that came up the most in conversations. The ‘soul cleanse’ they seek. India is where a lot of them take a ‘gap year’ and lose themselves in nature or tranquillity.
The sight of teenagers legally ( in fact mandatorily) swinging a firearm on their shoulders, even in their off-duty hours; offset with a jauntiness in their stride and the insanely warm smiles on their faces, inherent of their youth; is something that I’ll never forget. As a mother to two teenagers, more than anything else this was a sight that touched me the hardest.
A consequence of the conflict of millennia past, over a piece of land that is the cornerstone of 3 of the world’s largest religions. Over what is ironically the most contested city in the world, not the most tranquil – inspite of having the holiest of sites of all of these 3 religions.