Hotel Corona


Hey you're listening to rough translation from NPR. Gregory Warner last month are Jerusalem correspondent. Daniel Estrin was doing with so many of us. Were doing on lockdown kind of sitting on the couch with nothing to do and my partner in iron in our apartment and we're not going out one hundred meters from our home and we're watching instagram together. Scrolling past too many sourdough starters and masks fees scrolling and scrolling like every once in a while. I'll be like whoa check this out. Then he this video you see about a dozen people in a carpeted lobby doing this funny Macarena Move Together. Zuma and this is not Zimba by Zoom in person. No masks breathing all over each other Zimba. The reason they can do this without any social distancing is because they are at a hotel for people already have the corona virus in the video. It's mainly young Israelis. You see a guy wearing what looks like a t shirt he got in the army and there's a girl in a job and that is what caught my eye because Israeli society is pretty segregated. Arabs and Jews tend to live in separate cities and go to separate schools. I mean yes you will see them both in the market but seeing them together an exercise class by choice having fun well this is going to be interesting and there are so many other videos like this coming out of hotel corona with people doing things that. I can't do with other people Sunday. They can give each other high fives and hugs and dance party rooftop Yoga Kariuki off. It's like watching reality. Tv except that Daniel usually hates reality TV but hotel corona is like this alternate reality like the reality TV show. I actually do want to watch. This is rough translation from NPR. I'm Greg border. It really is the perfect reality. Tv show setup two hundred people from all walks of life Israelis Palestinians religious all recovering from Kobe. Nineteen some of them. Fresh from the hospital now forced to live together in a hotel until they're no longer contagious. And they call this Place Hotel Corona. It's not just Daniel watching this. Lots of Israelis are tuning in. Except they're not trying to watch the dramas. The thing here is the lack of drama and people are wondering is this for real. Are they getting along as well as they see today? The Story Inside Hotel Corona. And why this show won't get a second season when rough translation returns. We're spending more time at home than ever before. So now's a great time to finally adopted dog right. Socialization is going to be harder because socialization and social distancing a are definitely at odds so before you decide to adopt a canine companion during quarantine. Listen and subscribe to. Npr's life kit. Hey we're back with rough translation. I'm Gregory Warner so I'm no I'm in. I am corona patients number. Three thousand five hundred and fifty five which is a very symbolic number here in the Middle East because when you have three five it's good luck. No shuster is an Israeli comedian before the corona virus. She got her big break a booking for her one woman show in Washington. Dc IN GIGS. For the place and then her shows were cancelled. She flew back to Israel and passed out at home. It felt like her lungs. Were on fire. After a short stint in the hospital she was dropped off by ambulance at the Dan Hotel in Jerusalem. A nine story hotel with tennis courts SPA now lease to the Government House recovering covert nineteen patients when I got to the hotel doors open. And that's it immediately. The doors shot in there is. There is no going out for me anymore until I get released until two negatives to negative tests. Then she's allowed to leave. You feel like you're like an alien and then I walked in as anyone here up. Two flights finds the reception desk in case plexiglass this very nice religious guy with a yarmulke asking how I was and me know that they're here for us. So My name is borough pizza. The reception manager at the Dan. Jerusalem hotel of the hotels nearly four hundred employees. Barak is one of only about four dozen who agreed to keep working here when the patients arrived for me it was simple. I knew from the beginning that I'm going to stay. There is a say in the hotel industry that it's like it's like a virus if it catches you. It's very hard to go out. Besides he worried if he wasn't here. The army might send soldiers to do it. It would have been like Like a military camp to run the hotel as as a hotel not give the guest a feeling that they are in jail. You have to have hotel years. Yeah what is different about it? What's the hospitality part that you bring to it? We welcome to kissed. We speak to them to get them out from the shock that they're in when they're coming into the hotel and then there was a small interview when they're coming in. What's your name? How old are you for where you for your coming from? He asked me from the check in. Do I keep Chabad? How religious I am of course I know according to names if they are Jews or non Jews. The reason for these questions is that Barak has to play matchmaker. He assigns people roommates for their time in the hotel. Oh I wish she had a man for me. I think you could choose well for me. The room assignments were really really good signing rooms in a place like Israel. It's not easy. For example. One person was all docs. We've matched him with an Orthodox. Those two could not stop fighting over the T. V. as in one wanted to watch it the other said it was forbidden to turn it on so Barak separated them and made a note to ask about that in the entrance interview and then another day another complaint. Someone came to me. Listen I I don't Wanna we staying with this guy. I told him this why you're an Arab. And he's an Arab you're twenty years old and he's twenty years old so what's wrong. No but I'm coming from the north and he's coming from the South Barak says his job is to make every patient every guest as comfortable as possible in a time of uncertainty and he says that means being with your own kind blue pray like you pray people who think like you think we are trying to do the best we can and can say it's ninety eight percent success really. Yep and my experience. It's easier for them if it's a similar as possible. My name is is Shabaab. Nineteen years old and I'm from rats. It in the negative is Muslim and Bedouin and Barak didn't need to assign her roommate. She arrived at the hotel with her twenty one year old brother. They're both janitors at a hospital. That's where they got the virus. It was trained. Jelavic like we reacting in our room. We didn't go outside. We didn't check up with the people. It just felt weird not to be interacting with the other guests. I love to know people like listening to them. Sharing with them Stories and so would you. Here's Announcing dinner over the PA SYSTEM. Aisha goes down gets her individually wrapped supper tray and looks around for a place to sit their religion. Jewish was together. She sees the religious Jews or sitting with other religious Jews. The secular or with secular and the are was together. Everybody's sticking with their own kind aisha grew up in a bedouins city in the desert speaking Bedouin dialect of Arabic. She knows about sticking with your own kind but when she was seven years old. Her Mom brought home in American couple to stay with them. They were academics. Studying Bedouin. Polygamy Asia's dad has two wives and he says mom saw these guests as an opportunity so they starting to learn US English and we starting to learn them. Arben couple was writing about you. Yeah and they was living with us to for two years. Mom would tell her. Be CURIOUS ABOUT PEOPLE. Ask Questions. It'll help you. And so now. Holding her tray of food in Hotel Corona Aisha's scans the room for the friendliest face and she makes eye contact with an older religious Jewish couple on rum and Gina. So they were they were nice. They was laughing all the time so I chose them. It was so easy to talk to them. How did you get the virus? When would say well? How did you get by the end of the meal? They are singing and laughing together. Felt this moment was so special. She recorded it on her phone which began happening a lot. At Hotel. Corona people would have a nice chat over lunch and immediately pull out their phone to just capture this moment and these were the kind of videos that our correspondent Daniel Estrin started watching the first hotel guest I started following on Instagram was no The comedian I remember. She did this comedy show in the hotel lobby no stage. There's no Mike. And she's Kinda shouting so everyone can hear her. My body was weak. My mental state was weak. Because I know you're not going to be very good and very funny right now and he's not going to lie. It's not the funny stuff like my number is three thousand. Five hundred fifty five have three times comes from five. Won't during you my good luck with my number. Hopefully you'll get out of you know again. What are you talking about like so here is really sick and who here? Cut IT ON PURPOSE. Leaking bench outside in order to get in the hotel for free losers. Seriously that's the feeling you don't know sticking trying to get a free ride in the hotel so you knew people wonder if it's too soon for corona jokes in this hotel was not to suit and then a said that maybe we can start a tender that is just for corona patient and the first day can be going to visit grandma and GRANDPA no fear so I. I did also part of the showing Arabic I. It's also an attraction for the God. You're doing comedy Arabic. What's happening with your story? What's what's going on Noam's backstory? It is the kind of made for TV biography that you might want in a reality. Tv version of this hotel. She is a straight talking cynical political comedian who grew up learning Arabic as a kid which is weird in Israel. Most Jewish Israelis who speak Arabic learned in the army as military intelligence but she learned growing up in a Hippie village in Israel. That was intentionally built have fifty percent. Jews and fifty percent Palestinians. Navesh Shalom Salaam. In English uses of peace I was set to become the poster girl of their like. Give peace a chance movement. Nobly Best Palestinian singing songs repeated food for peace trees for peace pancakes for peace. Parents always told her she was the model of what? Israel should look like but Israel was becoming more and more polarized. The inequalities between Israelis and Palestinians and government policies against Palestinians. Were becoming more stark. Still she made peace making her job. She started working for the UN organizing dialogue groups reaching out to Israeli Jews. Who are the most skeptical of peace like ultra right-wing religious groups but both sides seem to be moving away from the ideals of compromise? She was raised to believe in. I found myself often very alone with the narrative that doesn't really resonate or doesn't apply to a lot of people and then before she was supposed to give a speech at a peace conference about her work the UN canceled the program. She lost her job and at that conference instead of going up and being the analytical UN Peacebuilding Nam. I started telling jokes and it was probably the best thing that I know. I'm with so much more successful making fun of divides than trying to bridge them. She got gigs all over the US and a fellowship at Harvard to write her one woman show coexistence my ass which he says about coexistence and about her and. I don't need to be careful anymore. I can make fun of the Jews and the next my next joke would be making fun of Palestinians. I am now not making an order out of the confusion. I'm making a mess out of the confusion making jokes in the Middle East. You never know who you're gonNA offend and of all the audience has no. I'm faced as a peace activist or as a comedian. The crowd in the lobby of hotel corona seemed like the most diverse. It was just a bunch of old young religious secular Arab Jewish everything just sitting in the lobby laughing sometimes not laughing screaming coughing. Coughing definitely coughing. She starts making jokes about this one. Supermarket cashier ends up infecting her entire village and it turns out the cashiers in the audience. Was like yeah. That's me. I did the cash here in the in the supermarket. You made all your village and everybody was a lot of footage filmed by Aisha. The hospital janitor came to the hotel with her brother. She never been to a live comedy. Show before and never even been room where Arabs and Jews shared joke book and laughing on something like common. The next morning I use it comes down to breakfast. And when she looks around to decide which group she's GonNa sit down with today. She realizes that something seems to be different like all the People. Jewish are and they starting to sitting together talking together eating together sharing a lot of stuff if before everyone was sitting in their own group. Now they're all mixed and it's not just issue breaking the ice people are approaching her and I asked them about them. Religion like about the Jewish people like why when the woman get married. She started to cover her hair. And why the guys wearing Vecchi Bob and they explain me a lot. Had you ever ask those questions before to a Jewish? No like most of things like it's hard to talk about the Jews. Esther some of the most sensitive questions that a Palestinian citizens of Israel can face like. Do you consider yourself. Israeli war Palestinian question here felt friendly genuinely curious. They didn't judge me like I'm Arabian. I'm Muslim I'm that Nope I'm a human that you can talk to me like there is no different between us. I was like wait. Where's the races whereas all the problems whereas all the prejudice where everybody's getting along here in this hotel what's happening here norms? Even more surprised when they're instagram's stories from inside the hotel start being picked up by Israeli TV. The media saw that we love sharing so so every day was like this reporter is speaking to this person in another reporter speaking to me so when we were filming other people who were like. Hey guys make some noise for channel number Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah. One point no one posts a picture on facebook of her arm around a woman in a sweatshirt and he job and she tags it a Jew Palestinian stuck in the Dan Hotel in Jerusalem as with so much out of hotel corona it goes viral thousands of shares thousands of likes all the popular pages in. Israel posted the post was reposted by a biggest rarely. Tv Channel and the comments came from an even wider audience from all over Israel when a post like goes mainstream in Israel. You can be sure it'll attract some nasty comments. The usual comments would be like. Oh wait once you're out. She will send her boy to bomb you. Oh now you're getting along. But later she will throw a stone at you and I'm going through the comments and can't find one negative comment the usual racism. The trolls the hatred separation that I'm used to seeing outsiders didn't exist. Sure the people here could share a look or even photo but how would these new friendships hold up under stress? Well e remember this one day. She was walking back to a room and this guy in front of her collapses. He's look like events van God he's Gone Pale and bearded he's a young Orthodox Jew now having an asthma attack on the hallway carpet and as Russia's over to help she also stops and wonders. Am I allowed to touch him? Like I'm Muslim I maybe I'm I cannot talk to him I cannot touch him maybe if I helped him. He'll be offended so she calls the medics but they have to put on all this protective equipment just to enter the hotel. They need her to step in and I ask medical what I have to do. Don't let him fall asleep. They Tiller do you think you saved his life actually? Maybe I don't know but maybe doesn't want anybody to know that he had an attacker that you helped him or both of them. At first she didn't even tell anyone what she'd done. She didn't want to offend them. Then she worried maybe you'd have another attack so she started telling people in this older Jewish nurse told her she done something really great. He told me you can be a doctor not to nurse when she talked to me. She confessed to her that she'd always dreamed of being a nurse. Not just a hospital janitor and we started this conversation like maybe we can help each other are you should never had a mentor outside. Her family let alone a Jewish went after the break as Israel tunes into Hotel Corona. So we feel like also we are the news that media spotlight becomes the biggest test of all face masks have become the new normal as we continue to grapple with the ongoing pandemic. But when did we start wearing masks for our health and safety this week on through line the origins of the n? Ninety five mask and how it became the life saving tool. It is today through line from the podcast where we go back in time to understand the present. Hey we're back with rough translation Gregory Warner and I'm Daniel Estrin by early. April Hotel Corona had been opened less than a month and borrow from his desk behind. The plexiglas concede that the guests. We're getting along but he was worried about Passover well as always all of the family. He was worried that the guests would feel their isolation even more on this holiday. That's all about family. They might get depressed and we wanted to find a solution to that problem to give them the opportunity to have a proper sater but Seder is a lot to figure out. It's family style eating not individually wrapped. Supper trays how do you keep the food? Hot during readings and songs can last well over an hour. And how do you set it? All up in advance before the guests arrive to contaminate the space because once one of them touch anything it can go back and did anyone have any crazy. Ideas like like sending waiters with has met suits No because there there were. No one is willing to do that eventually. The hotel management decided to just open up the banquet hall to all the guests and they'd serve the Food and just do the sator themselves but there was another problem. The young guests were dying to film this for their families back home for TV. But ultra-orthodox. Jews FORBID ELECTRONICS ON RELIGIOUS HOLIDAYS. The ultra-orthodox in the hotel did not want their holy commemoration of the exodus from Egypt to be instagram famous. No I'm tried to reassure them. We're not gonNA take our phones out. We're not going to dress in a way that will insult them. You know. But some of the ultra-orthodox guests made a request to borrow can hotel management wasn't demand was the polite request. We want to celebrate traditionally and the young people want to celebrate differently. And if you don't mind if it's possible to to To divide please divide the banquet hall. What for the ultra-orthodox in wonderful the rest in a video posted just before the Seder started someone shows the setup. There are the tables on the secular side with all the bottles of Soda and the Little Individual Seder plates. And then there's an actual Florida ceiling wall of which makes a complete separate room for the traditional Seder religious people. Teaming affair should come to know him. This wall wasn't a practicality it was a symbol it reminded me of the world that I'm used to before the coronado it reminded me of our default. The we prefer separation rather than the compromise. That comes with uniting Noam remembers walking into the room on the secular side and seeing the wall. Oh you're so cute to think that you found something unique here in this hotel. Let's see how this goes The Sun Setting Cedars about to begin and I talked to one of the people on the religious side. I'm rum man. He sixty six years old. He's not ultra Orthodox but he's Orthodox Guy. He says he remembers coming in with his wife. Gena she took one look at that partition wall and she tells them I can't do this. I'm gonNA cry together ago. Says he also the idea of having a divided Seder if he took down the wall could spark a fight? The ultra-orthodox could walk out in protest. And then the young people might pull out their phones and film that but are just could not do the sailor. This way anybody Vicky tells us wife. Give me two minutes and we're GONNA move this. It's too big for him to push alone. So he calls over some younger guys and they start to slide the wall. A when an ultra Orthodox man. But he's not there to stop them. We'll talk some motivation tells them I'm so happy you're moving this partition and he helps them altogether. They pushed that divider back into the corner and then as one room a hundred and eighty people. They blessed the wine. The Seder Begins Aisha and other Muslim guests in the hotel. Are there to celebrating with them. They invite me to sit with them to eat with them. And by the very last night of Passover Aisha sitting at the ultra-orthodox table and it was a great conversation. Like we catch shots shots. Yeah works of why not me them but I enjoyed them like sitting with them not to drink. Of course we do have a couple of video clips taken from the end of the Seder after the prayers when people just couldn't help it. They discreetly pulled out their phones and build the day. I've seen it on film. I was shocked. They hit a beautiful seder. Barak members watching this video of being struck by how different this was from. Sater's outside the hotel walls. The government was forbidding people from hosting any guests police set up checkpoints on Passover night to block movement borrow like all Israelis do Seder at home at home with my slow family. My parents by themselves and my mother in law set alone and they were celebrating together. They were like a small community like a huge family. Can I ask you strange question? Do you ever feel jealous. That they get to be together and touch each other or be next to each other and you have to your sense when you see them together and you know that they don't have the old rules and the barriers of the that you have now that we have now. I believe that a lot of people in Israel element of India's of that people won't forget this Passover full for a long time While Barak play these videos over and over for his friends noam played the experience over and over in her head trying to make sense of it. I was sitting in my table and watching other people remove barriers. Not me all her life. She'd been told that it was her job to bring people together a job. She felt she'd failed at. You know how it is. I wasn't the one to remove the barriers. Oh my God I wish things outside could be like this. She wondered what it was in this hotel that allow people to find common ground without slogans without the UN without can eat pancakes for peace. Is it the fact that Jews Arabs? Get the same in the hotel. Same food same terms was the people were being treated equally or that. They'd all face down the same disease that we are realizing how much of wellbeing one is the being of the other in. How will I think about this experience? When I go back to the real world we called Fisher just as she was heading back to the real world. Her brother just gotten his second negative test. I will go home Chang with the family. But she's not going back to her old life at her janitor job. This experience is talk too much a lot of stuff that I didn't know about myself like what how smart I am. Her new friends convinced her to enroll in nursing school and they can guide her while her mom always encouraged her to be curious about people. It wasn't until she got stuck in this hotel that that translate into real friendship and even opportunity watching these videos from hotel corona. I've been wondering what if a lot? More Israelis went through this experience of being stuck together in a place where the normal rules of society are suspended. Like would that change Israel and actually a lot more corona hotels have opened but most of them are segregated. Not Mixed like this one. Wow I didn't know that. Do you think it's a good idea to have separate hotels? No I called the army commander in charge of the corn teen hotels and he told me that there are so many alter orthodox Jews who caught the virus. They made special hotels just for them. He says they wouldn't come to mixed hotels. It's easier to convince people to come if they know they'll be with their own kind. Hotel Corona no longer hosts recovering patients. And when we last talked to Barak he's saying goodbye to the last of those guests when he first opened the doors and started. Assigning roommates is fear. Then was that people from different backgrounds with clash but they did not in fact they became friends and I believe that if they will have to spend a timing hotel. Jusin arps together. Maybe they will everything will be. Okay which But that's the meaning of being Israelis. That's not the meaning being Israelis. It's just how humans are. I once interviewed a reality. Tv show producer. Who confessed just how hard it is to get people to fight enough to keep it interesting. He said you have to cast characters exploit the right moments stoke the conflict because people he says individuals are frustrating. The good at getting along. That is what barrack discovered but he is also a hotel and a practical one. He agrees with the Army. Commander that segregated hotels. They're just easier to get people to come to an easier to manage. Yeah of course it's easier although we we call them the guests who main calling them guests but we cannot forget that there are sick if feels it's unseemly to take whatever magic happened here and try to impose that on the rest of the nation. This is a moment when people are feeling. Vulnerable and deeply uncertain. And we have to do the best we can to Make them feel comfortable right. So you don't see this as an opportunity to recreate Israeli society. No because we are not in love boat or life is not a is not a movie. Good luck telling that to the cast of Hotel Corona Today's show was produced by Tina. Antolini our editor is Luke Hausky. So many people listen to this season made it better. Thank you to Henry. Takhar Hussein shocker. Danielle chest though aside. Jubran Elizabeth Sinuous Spackman Robert Krulwich. Karen Duffin Sarah Gonzales. Santa Krassikov Jess Jiang Autumn. Barnes Mira Bertrand Tonic and NPR. Middle East editor Larry capital thanks to Brigadier General Urine Lardo and Atar Nussbaum the rough translation executive teams. Neil caruth Chris. Turpin de Stinky and on your government are intern is Derek. Arthur Sarah night fact. Check this episode. Mastering by Isaac Rodriguez John Ellis composed theme music and other scoring from blue dot sessions. Schuster has been documenting. Her whole journey even after hotel corona will have links to that in our show notes and before we go just one last moment from our interview with no. I'm I'm really in a movie that I can't describe One second when no one was talking to us from inside the hotel this announcement on over the PA. All my God until Tina what he said. I wonder what happened? You see I'm talking to you about this. Utopia hotel and well recording. Someone tried to reschedule. If you'd like more stories like this in your podcast feed rate and review us on Apple. Podcasts it really helps people find the show or tell a friend or two about this podcast and we always love to hear your rough translation. Moments both corona related. And not. You can drop us your thoughts at rough translation. Npr Dot Org. We're on twitter at roughly. I'm Gregory Warner Back. In two weeks with more rough translation.

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