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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Children of an Empire – or why immigration is done wrong

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241 – that is a number that at present terrifies me. It’s the number of days that I have on my student visa at the time of writing this article. When the timer runs out, I’ll be kicked out of the UK. For the last 3 years I’ve been happily living in Europe. It’s been a lifelong dream of mine to do so, and I’ve enjoyed it thoroughly. It’s the first time in my life where I feel like I belong somewhere.

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Mediocrity’s Waterloo – why you should learn to be yourself

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Estimated reading Time : 4 min

The thunderous roar of the cannon signalled the start of the battle. Napoleon had once more decided to take the Belgian countryside by storm, and only Wellington was there to stop him. The British audience cheered as Wellington smugly rode on the field, but the French booed loudly. An audience of fifty thousand people had descended upon Waterloo to mark the 200th anniversary of the famous battle, and see five thousand soldiers in full martial gala take to arms.

It’s well among the oddest of things I’ve done in my life. The whole experience had such a surreal undertone.In normal life,  you can rarely even mention the name of Napoleon without hearing something along the lines of “wasn’t he like a really short dictator, or something?” but here we had fifty thousand nerds that could quote you napoleonic minutia at the drop of a bicorn hat. I’ve been to football games before – dragged there more like. Yet, for the first time ever, I understood that feeling that football fans have when being with fellow fans.

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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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How to go from shy to smooth – a personal story

2015-06-27 19.48.35I’ve become a very different and better person these past two years, there’s no denying that. Not long ago, getting a hug from a woman used to be a huge victory for me – it was only by going through several hundred horrible experiences that I started getting good at interacting with women. In the past, I used to look at couples, and wonder to myself how they did it. It is at this point, at which I came around to reading books like “The Game,” not much came from that. Sure, it opened to me the possibility that social skills were a skill just like any other, and they could be improved through learning the right techniques and practice. Nevertheless, my applications of concepts like Kino (using touch strategically to express sexual desire) and such left much to be desired – more than one woman rightfully  told me to go away after misapplying the ideas I read about.

That being said, it gave me marginally better results than I’d seen in my life, so I kept at it. It’s at this point, at which I made my way to university. During the first week at university, I realized that in the land of the blind, the one eyed man is king. Almost everyone, in any social setting, is suffering from some sort of mental anxiety or insecurity with other people. It’s the reason for why some men seek to overcompensate by being the loudest guys at the party, the drunkest, the most gentlemanly, or the most well-built; anything in an ill-conceived attempt to be the outlier, as being average is mediocre and boring. Continue reading “How to go from shy to smooth – a personal story”

The Phantom Gunman – or why modernity makes you unhappy

2015-09-23 14.17.08.jpgAs I walk down the roads in a small little village in Hungary, by the name of Szentendere, where life has probably not much changed in the last hundred years, I cannot help but feel that in large cities we have somewhat lost our way. I do not say this from a nostalgic point of view, I very much appreciate the benefits that modernity brought with it. What I do think though is that our priorities have changed for the worse.

We live a life where we’re constantly stressed, where we get ulcers, and heart attacks from having literally worked ourselves to death. There’s this persistent paranoia to succeed, to get more money, or else. It’s like having a phantasmal gunman pressing a gun against your temple for a whole lifetime. He’s told you time and time again, if you deviate from the plan, or screw up, he’ll shoot. The shot might not kill us, but we’ll be left wounded on the cold streets without shelter and soon enough nature will take its course. He couldn’t care less about how happy the other alternatives make you, or how unhappy you may currently be in your life of drudgery, he just wants you dead and gone if you make him unhappy.

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The Traveller’s Curse

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Much has been written in the last few years on the benefits of travel, and how it positively influences the mind by broadening horizons. You get to see a wider pallet of the picture that is life. Having said this, there are few who even mention that there could even be a bad side to travel and meeting people abroad. There’s even less who wouldn’t be surprised to hear such an idea. Nevertheless, there is a very real danger.

The main problem is that most other people on Earth do not travel. As such, whenever you leave a place, you also leave people behind. These people could’ve meant the world to you, and so to leave that place behind feels like there’s unfinished business to attend to. These unfinished stories, in aggregate, do take their toll. You might even at times look at a map, and think of all the friends, love affairs, moments and connections that you left behind. You’ve tried to maintain contact online, but it is an ill substitute for seeing them face to face.

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