People you meet on the Road VI: Disappointment, Charlie Chaplin and Yogurt

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Whosoever said that we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover was a hypocritical son of a bitch. Humans are programmed to desire, rarely to appreciate. We may not like this side of ourselves, but pretending to be immune to it altogether is silly. In all likelihood these pretensions to the moral high ground may even lessen your enjoyment of things, as you force yourself to do things you don’t particularly enjoy just to prove a point. Truth be told, the performance of an experience is almost as important as the content thereof.

To easily illustrate what I mean, I shall say that I recently had a wonderful meal at a Moroccan restaurant. Yet not content with this, I decided to top it all off with a dessert. Last time that I’d been there someone had talked me into trying the yogurt, and I must say that it was a delicious experience.

This time around though they lived up to the Moroccan lifestyle far too much, as empires rose and fell faster than the time it took for me to get my dessert. Eventually I decided that my sweet tooth wasn’t worth the wait; hence I stood up and went to the cashier to pay, rather than wait a second more. On the way there, you had to pass through the kitchen and I saw one of the cooks spooning out a yogurt from a shop container into a bowl.

When my waiter saw me attempting to leave he tried to get me to stay, and I did, but by then the spell was broken. I saw the farce for what it was, far from the homemade traditional yogurt I thought it was, it was simply a store bought one in a fancy presentation and with nuts and berries to further disguise it. This realization should not have altered my enjoyment of the final product in any shape or form. I had, after all, been more than satisfied with ordering it on other days. Yet it suddenly didn’t taste as well as it once did, because it left behind the bitter taste of lies.

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People you meet on the Road V: The Pelican King

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Over the winter of 2015, after having spent a wonderful and eventful Summer in Turkey, I decided to return to a small town called “Fethiye” for Christmas Holidays. I had little else to do, and I’d been hired by a friend to edit a book of his. The small port town was thus the perfect getaway now that the prices had fallen and the tourists had left for warmer places.

Truth be told, most of the articles I published in 2016 came from this month of work. The sudden and noticeable drop in activity and frequency of published articles midyear happened once I ran out of them, and actually had to get my ass into gear. Although I quite enjoy the art and craft of writing, I often just as much enjoy pretending I’m going to write and watching Youtube videos instead.

Be that as it may, I have very fond memories of this month as a quasi-hermit and author. Despite the terrible weather, the fabulous scenery was still there, and there wasn’t a foreigner in sight. Hence the few remaining shops, restaurants and hostels open were extremely generous to any lost soul that happened to end up over there. Among them there was a cafe by the boardwalk called “Pelikan Cafe,” and contrary to expectations, its name delivered!

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In Defence of Pickup Artists

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Ever since the publication of “The Game” by Niall Strauss in 2005, the term “pickup” has become a dirty word. I don’t blame society for associating the term with a skeevy underbelly of humanity. What else were they supposed to make of the weirdos who purposefully dressed in silly clothing and went out trying to fuck anything with a hole between their legs by saying mean things to them?

This crass imagery has persisted for the last decade, and it’s unlikely to leave us any time soon. But, if for nothing more than wanting to play devil’s advocate and for the benefit of my limited audience, I’d like to come to the pickup community’s defence. I, among possibly millions of others, was also introduced to the idea of being able to approach women anywhere because of that book.

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A Tale of Two Moroccos – or the night I was afraid of getting roofied in the desert

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For the last few weeks, as an attempt to distract myself from the impending Sword of Damocles that was the high likelihood of having to go back to Mexico, I’ve been travelling in Morocco. I flew into Marrakesh, and I must say that I initially had a very bad impression of Moroccans as a whole. I almost got scammed multiple times on my first day, and you get hassled in this city like nowhere I’ve seen in my life. Everyone here has a story of someone annoying them on the streets, or being massively overcharged; some stories even include the threat of violence and thuggery and I’ve even heard of someone getting spat on by a stranger.

After experiencing this sort of doings I was ready to write an article on the subject. About how in some places you’re little more than a walking dollar sign, instead of a human being. But then I ventured out of Marrakesh and I saw the true generous potential of the Moroccan people. By way of example, whilst travelling with my two friends which I’ve mentioned earlier, we asked a man for directions to a hotel or something of the sort to stay the night, as it was getting late.

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Meditations on Toubkal Mountain, the highest point in North Africa

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Much remains the same when you grow up, many of the childlike dreams, hopes and aspirations still hold true. Perhaps we may coat them with a veneer of respectability or adulthood, but at their core, they still remain much the same. The main thing that changes though is how we seek to satisfy those drives.

Had you talked to my thirteen year old self and told him that one day, a decade later, I would decide to climb during the winter the highest mountain of North Africa on a whim, I would’ve likely called you mad. I still remember when, on a nature walk that we did on a school trip, my teacher essentially had to push my back then morbidly obese self the whole way. As otherwise, I would’ve never managed to do so.

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Why I approach Women on the Street

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To question one’s purpose in life is about as normal of a human activity as one could possibly do. Recently, I had a long and very frank discussion with a girl about how one ought not to rush love and how the right partner will find you. She viewed it as unnatural and unhealthy to expend so much mental energy on women and approaching them. I naturally scoffed, tell that to my 19 year old kissless, hugless and virgin self, I thought to myself. Had I kept doing the exact same thing that I had been doing, I would’ve likely died alone, and very  frustrated.

In the words of Woody Allen “eighty percent of success is just showing up” – for years I’d failed to turn up and then one December I decided to show up. Life took a turn for the better after some initial road-bumps. I cannot say with certainty where I would’ve ended up had I not met people who helped me change lanes, but I’m sure that I wouldn’t have gone down a positive road.

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Bittersweet Endings and New Beginnings

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After finishing university the other day, I can now pompously call myself an economist. Nowadays, when I go to a social gathering, I will almost be able to hear sphincters nervously clench when asked what I studied, and they hear what I have to say on the matter. I will now see the terror in their hearts when I answer that I profess the trade of Adam Smith, as they hope to god almighty that I don’t talk about inflation or currency exchange rates, or how the Brexit is a stupid idea.

I didn’t get to wear a silly Harry Potter gown, or attend graduation, because I put my degree to good use and calculated that the value (gotten out of essentially paying £80 for a handshake, a boring speech I wouldn’t remember, and a hastily taken photograph) was simply not worth it. Instead, I’ve been travelling with my father and yesterday I showed him Canterbury, the city where I’ve been living in for the last three years.

I showed him the fields where I walked with a lovely girl with whom I was with for a while; I showed him the discount supermarket I used to greedily shop at once a week; I showed him the pigsty that we used to call our student flat; I showed him the campus and all its labyrinthine quirks; I showed him where I took my first salsa classes;  and I showed him a coffee shop where I must’ve had well over a dozen dates – I showed him home.

If there’s anywhere that I’ve lived in that I could’ve called “home”, with all the pageantry and positive feelings that are bundled with the word, it was there. Frankly, I did not have a happy upbringing, and it took to well into my adulthood to find the peace and happiness that people seem to ooze from every pore. Nowadays, I know that is mostly an act – a lie they eagerly fan on their social media accounts to promote the cult of themselves. Yet, I was joyless for most of my existence, doubly so when I suspected everyone else was happy except myself. If home is where the heart is, I was homeless for most of my life.

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