Office building, Tel Aviv

Spring 1991.

After 7 years in the country and 4 years self-employed, and having come through Intifada I and Gulf War I, it looked like it was time to move my professional practice out of a spare bedroom and into a regular office.

There are, at most, three degrees of separation in Israel. So I quickly found a troubled advertising agency (no conflict with my practice) that was willing to sublet three rooms. Over the phone, they said “40 square meters, 14 dollars per month per meter”. Standard office rent at the time.

At the meeting with the woman in charge, she produced a floor plan of the rooms with dimensions. My engineering reflexes made me draw my pocket calculator and start checking stuff.

“What are you doing?” she asked.

“Checking that the areas involved add up” was my innocent answer.

“Oh, drop that. How many square meters are you willing to pay for?”

Instant enlightenment ensued: in the Middle East, reality is negotiable.

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