As Swedes, we are spoiled by a lot of things that one cannot get in Israel: free education, free water, easy internet banking and 50 cm long cucumbers. We are also spoiled by the amount of options in shops. When I was in Sweden last, I counted to 24 different balsamic vinegars in one supermarket!
Linnea and I go to DIY stores often.
In Sweden, a DIY store is a HUGE warehouse of 6 000 square meters, yes it is true! The aisles for paint are at least 50meters floor to ceiling shelves and if you want a paintbrush you will have at least 10 meters of different kinds of paintbrushes for all sorts of stuff.
In Israel, a DIY store is about as big as your living room. You can get 2 brands of paint and 3 kinds of paint brushes: super cheap and shitty, expensive and super expensive. In most DIY store you can only buy SHINY oil based paint…YES this is also true! (In Sweden most of the paint is water based and you can get all kinds of sheens)
One of my first visits to the DIY store in Israel went like this:
I walked into the tiny DIY shop. Inside were 7 rough looking men. 3 behind something that looked like a counter and 4 milling around near it. They were all deep in conversation when I walked in and then – SILENCE! All 7 pair of male eyes stared in a confused way at me and I smiled to disarm them -it didn’t work.
So I walked around the VERY dirty and disorganized shop trying to find paint that I needed whilst 7 pair of eyes followed me around. The silence was only broken when one of the men behind the counter barked out aggressively “Can I help you?”
I said in English “Yes, I would like some white paint”
The man sighed as if disturbed from his winter sleep and walked around the counter to give me a can of paint.
I look at it bewildered by all the Hebrew text and ask “Is it water based?”
The man replied, “WHAT?! Water based?! No!! Why?”
“Well, I want water based.” I say.
“Why?! What is it for?” he asks incredulously.
“Well” he says irritated “This is oil based and best for furniture”
“Ok… thank you, but I want water based.” I say
The man sighed again and made fun of me in Hebrew to the other men in the store, who laughed. Then he got a can of paint and shoved it into my hand and went back to the counter.
I do actually read Hebrew but slowly and I read on the can “קיר” which is “wall”, so I trot after the man and say, “This is wall paint!”
The man barked at me “SO?! You can use it on furniture - a lot of professionals use it!”
That is when I had had enough and I barked back at him angrily “Well you can also paint with SHIT and if someone is using this on furniture then I would not call them professional!!”
There was an even bigger silence in the shop then a lot of laughter and a smile of embarrassment on the man’s face and after that I got the help I wanted.
I go to the DIY store at least once a week in Israel and I have still NEVER seen a woman in it. After the incident above I am quite good friends with the owner Asi and his Armenian helper/friend, Ohan.
They call me Happy Face. :)
Linnea & Caroline
2 foreigners in Israel trying to find their space. Up-cycling furniture and clothes for a better environment and future.
Check us out on Instagram: