Jerusalem comes into the Modern Era


Jerusalem comes into the Modern Era


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Love me, love my laptop

By Judith Weisberg

Not only weathered cobblestones and fancy shop fronts determine whether Jerusalem is still bound to years gone by or linked to a yuppy future.

That public transportation has progressed from donkeys and carriages to a well run bus system is definitely an indication of solid improvement towards 20th century comfort.

Taxi drivers no longer grab for your purse when you don't agree to pay the fee they dreamt about when you boarded their vehicle and peanut butter is now normal supermarket merchandise.

Even public bathrooms have reached an almost acceptable level of cleanliness.

Jerusalem is definitely heading for Western efficiency. Whether we really should yearn for the grand total of that golden dream I leave to everyone's personal preference.

There is however an essential difference between comfort and Differential Care, the vital kind of hospitality, usually linked to a display of the obvious wealth of the clientele.

I must admit here that ever since I walked my first step in these palaces of superb elegance, I wished to move in immediately, unlimitedly and unconditionally.

The velvet service of these hotels is expressed by the Baur au Lac Hotel in Zurich, by it's remembering their guests' favorite colors and sun exposures.

Similarly the Amsterdam Apollo Hotel will immediately provide top quality eiderdown blankets when King Client expresses unhappiness with the woolen covertures on the beds.

The concierges of the Waldorf Astoria and The Pierre in New York are used to park the Rolls Royces and Bentleys for their owners. They are used to the tip that will follow as well.

Money is not relevant as long as one has it in abundance.

These hotels as well as their Jerusalem sister establishments have by now finally integrated the disturbing nudging, nagging and ringing of cellular phones in their quiet ambiance.

The introduction of the mobile computer in Israel's five star lounges is a different matter altogether.

As one of Israel's foreign correspondents I have in past years frequently sunk with great pleasure into the well-padded armchairs in the lobby of the capital's guest palaces, taken out a notebook and written my article right there and then.

Today's trouble started when my notebook metamorphosed from paper to electronic.

I now carry with me a notebook computer and I have found that Jerusalem is not ripe and ready for this stage of progress in customer service.

When I sat writing comfortably in the reading room of the famous King David Hotel, enjoying its excellent coffee, I noticed a waiter pointing at me from behind a large plant.

Before I knew what was happening, a manager approached my table like a general on the warpath and asked in a stentorian voice whether I was a guest of the hotel.

I reminisced my many earlier visits and asked whether my presence was possibly bothersome. I wasn't laughing loud nor kicking the legs of the table like I sometimes do when I get really carried away by what I write.

With a mobile computer I also couldn't haven seemed shekel-less either.

My nemesis thought for a while, stared at my computer and stated then peacefully:" No, it even adds to the general view".

He left me sitting there with a smile on his face, and I left shortly afterwards, feeling very embarrassed. I haven't been back even though the hotel manager called to apologize, after I alerted him to this severe flaw in service.

Searching for a different five star oasis I crossed the magnificent entrance of the Hilton Hotel.

The waitress of the Hilton Hotel must have seen notebook computers before. She didn't move an eyebrow when I unpacked my workmate. She even plugged the cord in the nearest outlet and brought me my coffee with a typical Hilton smile. Friendly, efficient and distant.

Problems arose again when I decided it was time to visit the King Solomon Hotel. The coffee shop waitress almost got angry, when I wanted to open my smart little computer bag.. She protested:

"What do you think, lady. This is a restaurant! Not an office!" I felt lucky she didn't yell.

Strangely enough the hotel has an Internet desk right there in the lobby. I guess the Internet is considered play, though for many it's all too serious.

Maybe the notion of royalty weighs heavy on these two hotels; though I'm sure both King David and his son King Solomon would have used notebook computers had these electronic assistants been around then. Both monarchs seem to have been very efficient.

The Ramada Renaissance was again a lucky try with the coffee being both cheap and excellent. My notebook didn't cause any visible frowning.

The happiest surprise awaited me however in the Dan Panorama. Whit no electrical outlets available, the reception manager suggested the use of a different lounge across the hall. He even called over the waiter, who served good coffee with complimentary cookies and a smile.

The truth is I am rather reluctant to try out the other hotels. It's almost like modern pioneering. You see, you can still be a pioneer in Israel.


from the Febuary 2001 Edition Jewish Magazine

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