Yesterday I had the unique opportunity to timeshift and placeshift in the real world. You see, the holiday of Purim was celebrated in most of Israel yesterday (in Jerusalem celebrated today, commemorating the part in the Purim story wherein fighting continued into the fifteenth day of Adar...a lengthier explanation of "Shushan Purim" can be found here). As a Jerusalemite I was not yet celebrating, yet had reasons (see below) to be traveling outside Jerusalem. Even in Jerusalem there was an "off" feeling, as outsiders came into town dressed in their Purim finery (costumes of all kinds, Purim being the time when we try to be who we are not...a day of opposites).
Jerusalem in general feels like Purim, as we have such a wide variety of communities here, many with a unique style of dress....to say the least. Hasidim of all kinds, Christians from all points of the globe (Russian Orthodox, Greek Orthodox, etc etc), Muslim, and fusion -- every day in Jerusalem feels like a dress-up day, everyone in their own costume (mine usually consisting of jeans and a t-shirt...). On my way to bus station to go to Tel Aviv, I saw a group of people walking, looked like usual Ultra Orthodox folks (men dress in black and white), all of I sudden I realized the man's long black coat had colorful polka dots painted on...what a refreshing sight! A bit of color in an otherwise monochrome lifestyle!
I continued on to my meetings in Tel Aviv, sitting on a crowded bus with soldiers armed for battle (soldiers in Israel are required to carry their guns with them at all times, and tend to travel on buses since they have free passes), tourists, Jerusalemites trying to get ahead of themselves and in Purim costume, and a few like me, working, on our way to Tel Aviv for business meetings. I joined Shimy Constante, CEO of mPortico, in a meeting/presentation to a local Israeli venture fund together with a Silicon Valley fund in Israel for a few days. During the meeting we all put on our "costumes." Shimy as start-up CEO, me as strong supporter, other venture guys with their own versions.
Following the meeting, as soon as we got outside, Shimy asked me -- so, what did you think? Did they like it? etc etc. I told Shimy that it seemed there was interest, but obviously no one took out their checkbooks at the meeting.
And then I realized, if I had more guts, especially in honor of the Purim holiday, I should have done the opposite of what we usually do -- I should have asked everybody to step out of costume, and just say what they were thinking, feeling -- no playing the role of a venture capitalist.
But our costumes are an important part of who we are, and how the game is played.
It would be refreshing, however, just like the colorful polka dots on the black coat, once in awhile to go to one of these meetings and declare "Take Off The Costume" -- give instant feedback, decide on the spot, no games. Yeah, would be refreshing, but probably too much to expect on a regular basis. We need our costumes. They define us, comfort us.
Happy [Jerusalem] Purim!!