Sunday, 29 July 2007

Rules on how to stay sane

Rule number one: it's okay to have fantasies (especially if your favourite pub in Zizkov is one), but they must also be within the realms of the realistic and achievable, even if the chances are miniscule. For example, I used to fantasise about being Pavarotti, or at least having his lungs minus the girth, and playing La Scala every night for a year. But that's not a very practical fantasy. When I was ten years old and dreaming up ways of escaping my insanely strict and religious mother, I would fantasise that Farah Fawcett-Major was my old lady and we would ride to school together each day on horses (fuck, that's a bit weird). Or kicking the school bully in the nuts and not only getting away with it, but having him pay homage to me forever after. Neither were those particularly achievable fantasies.

Now, however, I get myself to sleep each night (yes, very good at the back there in the cheap seats, haha) by dreaming blissfully about the great journey to be embarked upon next year. Yes, I'm going to bore you all to death with this one at least once a week from now until it happens. I made some more enquiries about flight tickets on Friday, as I've heard it's possible to get return tickets to Prague, but get dropped off somewhere in the subcontinent along the way. I thought maybe I could cut some kilometres off the planned route by flying into Tehran, but that's about the most expensive option. Most probably I'll keep to the Delhi idea and limit my time there and give Pakistan only a week at most. This is because it dawned on me the other day that it's actually about 8,000km from Delhi to Prague and eight or ten weeks isn't actually that much. Especially not when I want to concentrate on Iran and Turkey: the latter to make up for the six months I spent there in 1992 prior to my passage to CZ, when I managed to get out of Istanbul all of two times. One of the those times had to be cut short when my credit card ran dry in Cannakale, and the other time was a trip to Zonguldak courtesy of the hypnotically beautiful Alev, for whom I just about had my buttocks impaled. Although if I were to be 100% honest, which isn't always the case (swift intake of breath), the real reason I went there was her little sister Ebru.

Digression Alert! When I first arrived in Kadikoy on the Asian side of Istanbul, it was into an apartment on the top floor of a seven storey building about ten minutes walk from the waterfront. Sokak Yogurcu, I think was the name of the street. And only five minutes from my employer, English Fast, which generously put me up 10 days before my TEFL course started (cheapest in Europe and matched only by TEFL courses in Cairo) because I'd drained my resources on the epic train journey from Munich. That's another post all on its own, but one digression is enough. The only drawback about this apartment was that I had to share it with an Englishman. Yeah, I know, and it was a cross to bear, believe me. Worse than that, he had a girlfriend who was also English. Yeeeech! She was a total minger and drank like a rainbow, so my flatmate had to shag her early in the evening while the going was good. Her only redeeming feature was the fact that she doubted my intentions toward women long before I recognised them myself. For a simple buran like me, Turkey proved to be my inexorable undoing because it was the first non-Anglo-Saxon country I'd ever resided in, i.e. it was the first country I'd come across where women made their interest more than obvious. It's been a precipitous and very steep downward slope ever since. Should I take the blue pill or the red pill? Whichever it was, I took the yo! open-your-mind-motherfucker pill, and gone forever was that sweet age of innocence (now I'm starting to write like Yoda). Sooooooo, when I leaned over the balcony that looked into our internal courtyard one day and looked down, I saw this most amazing aparition staring back at me. That was Ebru, and to this very day I swear that Turkish women are the most gorgeous I have ever seen. Of course, when you come from the Land of Skank like I do, then it's understandable that women from anywhere else would appear criminally beautiful, but my own personal epiphany occurred in Turkey.

Unfortunately, while I was a mere youngling of 23, Ebru was only 16, and on the Asian side of Istanbul anything was most definitely not possible. Actually, I take that back, because then I met Dilek, who was most definitely not shy about being forward, but that's a darker episode of the personal history that I will only delve into when I get really, really desperate to write something for the blog. Okay, I also met Ebru's sister, Alev, before Dilek...oh, shit, I can't remember the dates at all really...but Alev was almost as stunning as her sister and she possessed the inestimable advantage of being four years older. On the negative side of the ledger, however, she also had a boyfriend already, although she kept that fairly quiet until my cultural awareness radar finally started to pick up some traffic, by which time it was a bit too late. Hence the reference to impalings of sharp utensils into soft underside tissue.

God, and I thought I started to write about Iran. Back on track then: even though I'm not a big fan of Lonely Planet, they are the only big travel guide publishers with a book dedicated to Iran, so I got one on Friday. BradtTravel do one as well, but I've had to order online for that one. Possible routes in are train via Quetta in Pakistan, which would bring me out at the border crossing of Mirjaveh. From there I could go to the 'lonely, silent, crumbling city on a mountain' in Kuh-E-Khajeh before retracing my steps to Zahedan and then on to Bam of devastating earthquake fame. But here I'm sinking into needless detail. Ultimately what I really want to see is Persopolis, the famed Islamic architecture of Estafan and Shiraz, Tehran, and some of the villages and towns on the coast of the Caspian Sea. More importantly, I want to experience some of that reknown Iranian hospitality and friendliness before Jester George and the President potentially fuck up the region even more than it already is.

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