Editorial - Pleasant Ride With No Risk
First, I extend an apology to the Israel Railway’s Public Relations Officer, for ignoring the absolute veto he has placed on photographing Israel’s new train stations without his explicit permission. I simply didn’t grasp that a public official has the power to dictate whether or not I am allowed to present an architectural work. However, some of the following may compensate for my violating his orders.
I am willing to bet that not many readers are aware that the new Cesarea train station is in fact in Pardes Hanna, a town to the east completely unrelated to the supposed destination. I too was unaware of this until architect Shaul Spitz, who planned the station, notified me that it was up and running. Not unreasonably, I decided the best and safest way to visit would be by train. After a week of mental preparation (my last train journey being on the decrepit London Tube), I dressed for the occasion, took my camera, and drove my car to the Herzylia train station (the only one in the country still to be upgraded).
Within a few short minutes I found myself on a surprisingly clean and air-conditioned train. As we sailed smoothly and quietly along, I enoyed the still-pastoral view. No traffic jams, no honking horns, and no aggression. Once in a while, a friendly ticketmaster would pass by, then a polite ice-cream vendor and even a sandwich seller who took the time to explain exactly what each fresh roll contained. Enjoying every moment, all too soon my voyage was interrupted by the pleasant voice of the ‘Captain’ declaring, 'Next station Cesarea – please make sure you have not left anything behind.”
Disembarking at “Caesarea” but finding myself miles inland in Pardes Hanna, I soon engaged in lively debate with the station security officer. He was determined to prevent my photographing the new station in order to ornament this important message. Ignoring his insistence that “It is forbidden by The Public Relations Officer to photograph,” and 'You Israelis never understand anything the first time you are told,” I did my job and took the return train to Herzliya.
Still under the influence of this magic, I thought how different the whole country would look if The Public Relations Officer would take each member of parliament, the ministers, their office managers, their families, and other hangers-on, for a ride on the country’s best kept secret. Maybe then, we’d see more trains and fewer cars, and perhaps even find the sort of peace of mind that today we have to travel abroad for.
P.S. One more mystery: how come Israeli trains drive on the left side of the track - fifty years after the British packed up and left. Perhaps The Public Relations Officer can explain.
Architect Ami Ran