Within a five-minute walking radius, I can buy hookahs and tobacco in two shops, and beer, wine, and liquor in probably about five. There are four shawarma restaurants, two or three felafel places, several fruit and vegetable vendors, a couple dry-goods guys, a multitude of butchers, some convenience stores, about four pharmacies, and I don’t even want to think about the number of high-end cafes that line Ben Gurion street. There are a few electronics store, at least one DVD (bootleg? I’ll check it out) mecca, several banks, an auto repair shop, a wood-worker’s shop, a photo studio, two places to buy plants (bonzi trees and cacti and orchids) and uncountable unnamed small business offices.
And all that exists only on the streets I’ve explored. In Haifa’s spiderweb I think you can go many years here without really knowing everything it has to offer. Each street, each corner, is like its own bazaar. Many bazaars, many worlds. Men lift boxes and women dump soapy water onto the sidewalks. Children throw trash on the ground, discerning shoppers move deftly in and out. During business hours goods are proffered out on the street in boxes or crates or shelves. But walk the streets at night and you are faced with an unending wall of iron grates and garage-door-walls. All the little worlds become one bleak, desolate place.
Then the sun comes up again.