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Don’t Bark At Rabid Dogs (Istanbul, 2012)

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One late night in Istanbul, Doug and I were making the long trek back to our flat in Balthilimani. We walked by the Bosphorus, smoking cigarettes. We finally made it to the street right before our flat. 

It was really dark — only a couple of street lamps gave their light. Doug was wearing his fucking 3 wolves howling at the moon shirt. We’re about 10 min from our flight, and then we notice that to our left, maybe like 25 yards away, was a pack of mangy stray dogs. They looked mean.

The Brilliant Doug, wearing his wolves shirt, takes one look at them and barks. Yes, Doug barked at the pack of rabid mangy stray dogs. They paused for an infinitesimal moment … and then started barking and charging us, foaming at the mouth. A pack of mangy stray dogs. We shat our pants and fucking booooked it up the hill to our flat. We didn’t risk looking back. It was some scary shit.

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Escaping Claudia’s Apartment

AirBnb is quite popular in Argentina. The first apartment we stayed at was owned by Claudia, whom we never saw – she had a building caretaker to manage residents’ concerns. The keys were left in a combination lockbox attached to the front gate of her building. The unusual thing about the gate was that you had to turn the key in the lock to leave as well as to enter. Somehow or other, when we were evacuating the apartment, both sets of keys ended up in the lock box while we (Girish and I… Doug was spending the day at a Regus office, more on that another time) were still inside. WTF!

Luckily, the gate wasn’t solid — we could slip our hands through the bars and touch the lockbox. However, we couldn’t see the dials that we had to turn to produce the code. We had no mirrors at hand, so we started using the reflection produced by my iPhone screen. It wasn’t going well, and we were growing nervous when we realized what any selfie-taking dame would have thought of automatically: we could use the phone’s reverse aperture to see the lockbox. From there it was a hop, skip, and jump to get our backpacks into the cab of a grumpy old man and ride to Hostel Obelisco in bustling Centro.

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Midnight Express, Part 2 (Istanbul, 2012)

One night in Istanbul, Doug and I joined our friend Tarik Bilal and his buddies at a bar in Beyoglu. Bilal is a prototypical hip Istanbul sociaite. He knew all the ins and outs of the nightlife and took us along. The bar was really divey and reminded me of San Francisco.

Doug started feeling sick and left, while I messed around in the bar with my shitty English. I talked to Doug later that night and found out: 

He asked some guy if he had weed. The guy invited him into the bathroom to smoke some hashish. The hashish extremely harsh and nasty, and Doug was scared he had to give up some sex “in exchange” for the hashish. (This may or may not have been Doug’s first gay experience. We’ll never know). I was extremely, extremely jealous of Doug for having found the elusive marihuana in Istanbul (despite Bilal’s protesting that it’s really easy to find, that was definitely not our experience). He kept saying it sucked, that the hashish sucked.

After I left Istanbul, Doug stayed for another few weeks. Apparently our other friend Kacper was good friends with a grower, so he was all set.

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Midnight Express, Pt. 1 (Istanbul, 2012)

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If there’s one movie I’m glad I didn’t see before going to Istanbul it’s Midnight Express. “The true story of Billy Hayes, an American college student who is caught smuggling drugs out of Turkey and thrown into prison.”

Doug and I went from smelling Cali Tree on every block in San Francisco to the Morrowind-esque foreign trade city of Istanbul. We missed our cali tree, so in usual space cadet fashion, we tried to get our hands on some. After spending the day exploring Old Istanbul, we were wandering around near the golden horn when a man approached us. “HASHEESH?” he grunted at us. Doug and I shared a glance and were like “yeah…”. We gestured and used our rudimentary Turkish. The man looked disgruntled and asked us to follow him.

We followed, he walked away from the main street. Told us he could get us some weed for 100 Lira, and kept raising the price. Then he told us we’d have to get into the car to go with him somewhere to get the weed from his friend. We kept getting further and further away from the main street. Ok, fuck that. Shit was getting really weird, and I hadn’t even seen Midnight Express! We turned around and started walking back.

The Man followed us and shouted at us: “WHERE IS MY WORK MONEY? WHY U FUCK ME?” I just kept power walking, and we went into some 5 star hotel to ask them for directions and escape from this crazed fool. The hoteliers could tell we was scurred, and they helped us out. Finally, we got back to the tram and booked the fuck out of there.

In conclusion: watch the fuck out when buying marijuana in Istanbul, or you’ll end up in a Turkish prison, and that does not sound fun. However, our journey to find the elusive marihuana in Istanbul does not end here…

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French Night (Buenos Aires, Argentina, 2013)

As our stay in the magical land of Bariloche drew to a close (AKA the night before the trio was supposed to head back to Buenos Aires), Doug let on that he was done with city sights; he wanted to bus into Chile and explore more natural wonders while Girish and I spent another week in the Argentine capital. Lucky for us, while Girish and I took the 22-hour ride back to  Buenos Aires, another partner in crime was en route from New York City… my college roommate, John.

As soon as the dude arrived, Girish and I realized that we needed to pick up our drinking game. Up until now, we had been content to share a bottle of wine or three at dinner. John’s arrival meant finding amazing liquor deals at the grocery one block from our Centro apartment. Seriously, I mean like a handle of vodka for tree fiddy. A 40 of beer for a dollar. I had a strange time talking to the owner (having grown up in the US, I blame part of my struggles on cognitive dissonance from conversing with a Chinese man in fast Argentine Spanish – of course, Chinese people are far more common than South Asians in the country, so I don’t know what he thought of our group… probably assumed we were Israeli), but I finally understood that the recycling discount for returning used beer bottles was 50% of the retail price! Our minds melted when we realized that four dollars would eventually buy us seven 40s of beer.

John and Girish set to work sifting through nightlife options (after all, this was Buenos Aires). When John discovered French Night at La Cigale, the premier hotspot on Tuesday Nights, we were down. After dinner, we started taking shots and whatnot at our apartment. The volume of John’s shots actually doubled with each round. I had learned not to imitate this behavior after a few disastrous nights in college, but Girish was game and didn’t suffer too much, come to think of it. Soon we were rip-roaring drunk and having trouble locating La Cigale.

We finally found French Night, and it was… practically empty. Three floors of thinly populated, extremely loud club. John and I ordered beers. John asked the waitress where the hotspots were, and she desperately replied, “Here! Usually here!” Girish then got up and had a blackout conversation with some guy in a dark corner… we have no idea what they talked about since Girish, after returning to our table, couldn’t remember a thing, except for the phrase, “Somos la gente.” Girish then bought a bottle of water, downed it, and repeated and repeated… in total, five bottles of water, back to back at the bar. Meanwhile, I had begun to talk to some chicas. I suppose I was sporting some hardcore goggles,for when Girish finished his camel-at-the-oasis impression, he arrived at my side and told me these girls looked like birds of prey. I did a double-take and determined that they were indeed some of the least attractive women we’d seen in the capital.

Too slizzered to be dejected by French Night’s letdown, we caught a cab back to the apartment. The cabbie left us a block away due to the configuration of one-way streets, and as soon as the vehicle departed, Girish pulled out his wang and started peeing RIGHT in the middle of the street. At this moment, both John and I got a call from our own bladders. John started peeing on a dumpster, and I found a wall. Except for us, the streets were deserted, and glancing around with our pants down, we shared a moment.