People you meet on the Road III: Getting Chased by criminals

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Estimated Time: 4 Minutes

Some are born adventurous, some seek adventure, and others have adventure thrust upon them. I seem to be in the last category, as odd stories seem to follow me wherever I go. This time around, I was thrust into the adventure when I met a man on a boat whilst crossing the Bosporus straits. I had made my way to Istanbul after a month of backpacking through Turkey. I’d paraglided in the mountains, I’d skinny dipped in the Mediterranean, seen the ancient cities of yore, and seen a man get shot.

I was in dire need for something slightly less adventurous and thus I decided to take an afternoon cruise in Istanbul to see the historical sights. I wanted to sail across the sea where the Byzantines had laid a thick, iron chain to blockade enemy attackers from sailing into the ports. I also wanted to see the mountains besides it, where Sultan Mehmet II had hilariously just decided to carry the ships over to avoid the chain and naval blockade. This resulted in the conquest of Byzantium, after which the Ottomans left their indelible mark in the surrounding countryside over the following centuries.

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Veni, Vidi, Mori – What you learn from seeing a Man die

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Estimated time: 4 minutes

Last summer, I saw a man get shot in the gut with a shotgun at point blank range in broad daylight. It makes for a marked improvement since the last time I was in close proximity to a gun, as this time around I wasn’t on the receiving end.  Nevertheless the whole experience got me thinking…

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Napoleon, on how to be a Legendary Man

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I hear the low whirring of an engine, and as I write this there’s a small vibration below my feet, reminding me of the fact that I’m on a ferry crossing the English Channel from Dover to Calais. For many centuries this stretch of sea was the undeniable advantage that offered the British Isles impunity from any threat on the continent. Over time, there were many conquerors that tried to conquer Europe, but they simply couldn’t get past the sea and the so called “wooden wall”, which consisted of top of the line British ships that zealously guarded the waters. Tried as they might, this was the stretch of territory that they simply couldn’t cross.

Among the most famous of these conquerors is by far Napoleon – a man who emerged from the chaos of the French Revolution, and crowned himself Emperor, having been born in little more than poverty. This was a man who broke conventions in everything, he couldn’t even speak French properly as his first language was Italian. This was a man who, according to legend, in one of his first battles in Italy when his troops were about to retreat, grabbed the French banner, ran across a bridge where people were being mowed down left right and centre, and gave the soldiers courage to rush into battle and break the enemy’s morale in the process. At one point or another he ceased to be a man, and became a force of nature – terrorising kings, and charming countesses into his bed.

These sorts of stories build up a legend, but in the process we forget there ever was a person, like you and me. He’s become a myth, much in the same way as King Arthur and his Knights. The Napoleon you don’t much hear about is the shy, awkward Napoleon who was bullied at school, got rebuffed again and again by women, then got cheated on, and who’d considered committing suicide as his life wasn’t leading anywhere. In time, he learned how to solve these issues, and become one of the most extraordinary people that have ever existed.

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