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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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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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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Hostel Fondle – or why all miseries shall soon pass

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I’m writing this article on my phone from my hostel bed late at night, because this is how I deal with stuff – I write. I’m currently in Split, Croatia. Wishing that the infernal creaking of the bed springs next to me would stop.

In the bed adjacent to me there’s a pair of irrefutably drunk tourists having sex. Paying no mind to any passing soul that comes by. A part of me feels angry, disgruntled that they don’t have the decency to go to a romantic toilet stall, just like any other proper fellow might have done (Truth be told, I have never understood bathroom pulls either, smelly and disgusting is not on my sexual bucket list). But if I am quite frank, what I think most people would not admit to, but I will, is that I cannot help but feel jealousy just as well.

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Tyranny by numbers – or why being stupid can sometimes be good

 

Imagine if you will, a world of such mathematical exactitude that a formula is devised. This formula is nothing short of magical, for it can predict what truly makes a man happy. This equation knows nothing else but the contents of your heart and how best to achieve them. It can tell you whom to love for the happiest life, what to eat for the most satisfying and nutritious meals that your body needs, what to do to be satisfied, and what choices to make so as to have no regrets.

On first instance, this seems like a miracle from the Heavens. After all, who doesn’t want to be happy? Nobody wakes up wanting to be miserable, it’s just that life has this way of piling up such emotional weight on you at times, that it’s difficult to carry all that, as well as lift your frown. So, naturally, you’ll try to use such a formula.

What perhaps you’ll realise is what I did a couple of days ago. For the first time, in a long while, I am in a large city – Zagreb, to be precise. I decided that it had been some time since I had a Summer romance. I fondly remember what I used to have in the past, and thus I decided to try to recreate it.

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People you meet on the Road IV: The Syrian Refugee

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I must confess that contrary what I might seem to express in the last few articles, I’m often not a good person to hang around with. Whilst not a bad person, I’m often too blunt and crass in my views, and I have a deep fondness for irony and sarcasm speckled with black humour. Unsurprisingly, I have an appreciation for gallows humour; when I’ve been in circumstances where I could die, I’ve been known to crack a joke. This works well when I find fellow like-minded compatriots, but it bodes ill when I don’t.

This is something that I’ll probably be reminded of for the rest of my life, yet I learned this once more, one night in Istanbul, almost a year ago. At the time I was in a hostel, in the modern side of town, and as is often the case, I met a lot of people. Amongst them there was a short, and quiet man that was always there. He wasn’t a guest per se, yet he’d once been a guest many months ago. Now that he lived in Istanbul though he would come back for the lively atmosphere every couple of days. His name escapes me at the moment, but saying where he was from will probably be more useful for the story at any rate. He was born and raised in Syria.

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