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Architecture and Urban Planning - A Memoir \ David Best
V 1990 - 2002
Arad Revisited
   Some few weeks ago I received an invitation to the Annual Convention of the Association of British Immigrants. I was surprised that it had been sent to me, as I was neither a member of the Association nor had I ever attended any of their meetings. When I had immigrated to Israel I believed that I should make the effort to integrate as soon as possible into Israeli society and that is what I did. Although over the years many of my closest friends are now amongst those who came from English speaking countries, this has come about quite naturally, outside any form of “Anglo-Saxon” Organizations. Normally I would disregard such an invitation, but for some unknown reason I pinned it onto the notice board in the kitchen amongst the rich collection of announcements for imminent orchestral concerts, missed esoteric lectures of famous Israely authers and out of date grocery lists. It was only some few weeks later that I noticed that the British Association meeting was to take place in the town of Arad, my town of Arad! And over the coming weekend! I had not visited Arad for maybe ten years. Since then some parts of the last Quarter which I had planned had been completed. I suddenly felt the intense urge from which architects periodically suffer, namely to see again the reality of the projects which they have designed in the past. “Let's have a week end in Arad,” I rashly announced to my wife Rina, who was surprised to hear such a gratuitous suggestion from me, for a short holiday. “We could drive down on Friday afternoon and come back late on Saturday evening,” I told her, then to myself;  “That would give me enough time to tramp through all my neighbourhoods and maybe take a photo or two.”

       On a lovely spring afternoon we were on our way south, driving along the dual carriageway in my smooth running, power steering Peugeot, with the quiet hum of the air conditioner hardly disturbing the melodious tone of the Bach 'Magnificat' on the car radio. I could remember a different journey down south some fifty years ago in my rattling old second hand Ford Prefect, with an impossible clutch, no radio, and a random pattern of stuttering when I accelerated. The road then was barely five meters wide, laced with cracks and had no embankments. But the greatest difference between then and now was the colour of the countryside. Then it was a uniformly light brown with the odd clump of trees sparsely punctuating the route. Now, on my journey to the Convention in Arad, along most of the way the landscape was uniformly green, with rich agricultural fields stretching in glorious perspective to the horizon. Small Moshavim and Kibbuzim now articulated the view on either side. As we approached Kiriyat Gat, the little town that I helped to plan way back in 1955, a silhouette of high- rise buildings unexpectedly appeared two kilometers before the entrance road and continued kilometer after kilometer. I was glad to get off the highway onto the regional Arad road at the Lahavim junction and drive through the desert again.  The sun was now already low down over the horizon and casting long purple shadows across the rolling brown coloured hills. This was the landscape, which I still remembered from the days when I would bump along an unmetaled road at seven o'clock in the morning in order to be on time for a site meeting in Arad.
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