In a modern world connected by the internet most things can be researched or acquired just by going online. Social media platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn provide desired leads and contacts, Google the rest. When it works, this saves time and money when compared with on the hoof reconnaissance, a welcome development that should open up other opportunities in life.
But once in a while nothing beats good old right place right time, especially when it’s the consequence of other more primitive functions that a user manual and a few clicks won’t access, like for example gut instinct.
I write these lines from my roof terrace flat just off Taksim in central Istanbul. Outside, it is unusually quiet. There is still the hum of a big city, but none of the busy bustle and beeps, no planes, less traffic. At the weekend, it’s like being in the country, the shops, cafes, bars and clubs are all closed, where voices and music used to reverberate into the early hours, all you hear now are seagulls, doves, pigeons, crows, and the newly arrived swifts. It’s surreal. I wonder how the migratory birds feel, having the skies to themselves.
I left Manchester on a crowded flight a few days before all commercial air traffic into and out of Turkey was cancelled for an indefinite period. So, with land borders also closed, no one can get in, and no one can get out.
But I don’t feel like a prisoner in some apocalyptic nightmare, I feel the joy of timely arrival at a source and the excitement of imminent discovery, more like Amundsen must have felt close to the South Pole in 1911, or Raleigh when he first handled a potato in 1589. And I know I have fear of a virus between me and any foreign upstarts looking to muscle in on this new turf.
But will anyone care in 2120 or 2500 that Johnny Roberts arrived in Istanbul, went straight to a small shop in Karaköy, and bought a Rebul branded bottle of Turkish Kolonya? Or that this is a special eau de Cologne refined in Ottoman times to serve hand hygiene purposes? Or that he turned up unannounced at the head office of Rebul, in the middle of a virus pandemic, topped out on garlic and cigarette smoke, to discuss private label branding?
You’d certainly hope not!
Though at least the intrepid sales and marketing executive forced out of her office to deal with this erratic observed social distancing rules impeccably, so didn’t expose herself to any odours of survival. I don’t normally eat cloves of garlic and smoke a packet a day, but my subconscious instincts, and I use the Jungian model for verification, suggested fumigation was the best way to keep rampant virus out of vulnerable lungs at infection peak after a crowded flight, leaving other body organs to deal with any invasion and build up immunity.
As far as physical exploration is concerned, there aren’t many virgin summits left, except space and a one way ticket to Mars in stowaway class, and I’m not a molecular scientist or a jobbing virologist, so it’s lucky I’ve developed brand awareness, and a resourceful instinct, to stay on the scent of a source.