On Istanbul and Quick Decision Making

On Istanbul and Quick Decision Making

Benefits needed: Calm from Ashwagandha, mental clarity from Aswagandha, green tea leaf, vitamins B, C, D3, E, and selenomentionine.

Concept/Takeaway: Am I going to die? No? Then you’re okay.

Yes? Then get yourself out of the situation.  

The Story: I had already had coffee with three different random men I passed on the street that day. What was the harm in one more? I know that might sound a little “risqué” of some sorts, but how could I not?! All of these beautiful Turkish men asking me for my attention as I walked down the street, inviting me in for coffee. How could I be so rude as to say no? One man turned out to be Roman actually. Telling me stories of his giant castle downtown. Saying how, if I wanted, I could come live in the castle. He was a dance instructor so we could dance all into the afternoon, and he would never forget to start each morning by bringing me breakfast in bed. What an amazing fairytale… too bad I’m not tame enough to be a damsel.

 Galavanting with beautiful Turkish men

Oh well, better luck with the next prince.

I’m leaving my third, Roman prince charming of the day, walking around the mosques, where I'm romantically getting scammed to pay for a fake tour from a man who later asks me to go to dinner (which by the way, he would have used the money he scammed from me for the fake tour to pay for, presumably). Hahaha it’s all very romantic, really. I’m frolicking in my long grey and black, baggy pants I bought from the market that day. (The pants purchase came after the glares and astounded eyes from under all of the hijabs became too much for me in my short-shorts a few hours earlier). Now, I'm feeling like a princess among… a bunch of princes, really.

Pants in Istanbul marketplace

The mosques are beautiful, the lemonade is literally just lemon juice, I’m cracking up vlogging about all of the typical scams I’ve already fallen for, life is good. Everything is funny! I’m getting scammed by men who then ask me out! C’mon man, that’s good humor.

So I’m walking by a shop and a younger guy, probably 20-25, about my age, asks me to coffee. I shrug him off with jittering shoulders as I’ve already had 17 coffees today. He’s persistent and follows me. “That’s not a red flag,” I think in my early, inexperienced travel ways. So I give him the time of day. He’s putting in the effort, so what’s one more cup of Turkish caffeine going to do to my blood pressure. He tells me that there’s an amazing view of the blue mosque and that we simply must go so he can show me. After all, he’s the only one in the entirety of the city with such a view. I’m a sucker for a good Insta so you already know I didn’t hesitate - especially considering this got me out of one more cup of delicious, steaming hot diuretic. 

 Turkish Men & Coffee

We walk a moment out of the main square and I’m led to a little candy shop. As we walk in he takes some Turkish candy from a basket and hands it to me. I try it, and he gives me more. I’m truly a child at a candy shop and man am I here for it. He tells me this is his shop and I can have whatever I like.

 Turkish Candy, little girl?

I politely say I have already had plenty, and thank him. We head to the stairway, and I’m greeted by a few long, narrow staircases. I’d like to say I had any concerns about safety or was telling myself that “This seems alright,” but in all honestly, I was just excited for a good view and the promise of photos. After three or four flights of stairs I’m led into a small kitchen / dining area / living room combo, with three older women and a few children sitting around and cooking. He tells me they’re his family. I get wild looks and their eyes follow me. I guess even with my new pants, spaghetti straps are still a little showy. Who knew. 

He says something to them in Turkish and I’m unbothered. I feel weird so I say hi and thank them for having me through their home as we literally walk directly through all of them, neglecting to stop. They just look at me. The food smells good but we keep going. All of 6 seconds later he opens the door in front of him and we’re led to a rooftop. Sick! It’s sloping and you need to be careful with every step because you truly may just fall off. But death wish aside, he wasn’t joking! You should have seen this view.

 View from the roof

Oh my. From the ground, Istanbul is breathtaking. But from above? It puts the ground view to shame. How lucky am I? We’re having fun on this roof and I’m dancing without my shoes, narrowly toeing (quite literally) the line between danger and serious danger - always keeping those angles in mind of course. #InfluencersInTheWild

I decide I’ve had enough and I step onto an inward sloping portion of the roof. My man-of-the-hour follows. I say I want to go back down and he tells me to wait. Ugh. “Down seems good,” I say.

“But baby, I like you.” Oh goodness, here we go. “Thank you, but I’d like to go back down I say.”

‘But baby, baby I like you.” he repeats, walking at me, pushing me with his body language away from the door. He motions to sit so I do.

“Baby. I like you.” If I had a dollar for this phrase - pf, I wouldn’t have to write blogs.

“Thank you,” I repeat, subtly realizing the gravity of the situation I’m in as he starts reaching out for my neck and back, as if to pull me in. I quickly stand and readjust my body in relation to his so that if he ushers me again it’s closer to the door. 

Now real quick, let’s not lose sight of the scenery here. We’re sitting exactly on the point of the roof where it starts sloping down to the ground four stories below. I quickly wonder if the women inside would help me or be too offended by my sleeve-less-ness to care if they heard me screaming from their son. The hypothetical answer did not seem well in my favor. 

I'm processing this and suddenly think… "I could actually die right now. Play this right, girl." So, I stay calm, and I play it right. 

I slowly inch closer to the door while he keeps telling me he likes me and trying to pull me closer. We get to the door, and I convince him to open it, as I make my way under his arm and through the doorway before he can change his mind. 

I walk with him down the stairs, still showing all the politeness. This isn’t my country and I don't want to further offend a local. (Especially considering I don’t know a person here and he knows everyone. If he’s angry… who knows.) We get to the bottom and the offer of candy is gone. He heralds me out the door, acting disgusted. As I walk out of the store, I turn back to give a fleeting smile and wave goodbye. He’s already talking to three other male friends, making a disgusted face at me, presumably telling them how worthless I am. Cool. Onto the next coffee date, I guess. 

Now, this was still pretty close to the beginning of my adventures backpacking. Literally about 1-2 weeks in. I didn’t have 3-4 years of knowledge and experience with this lifestyle and of different cultures. I had experiences from the last few days, such as running through the airport in tears as I was at the wrong gate about to miss my $500 flight that I had booked 3 hours prior on a whim with nothing packed. I had experiences of meeting new friends at a hostel and going on a pub crawl in madrid. Things like this, sure. But nothing actually scary. Nothing… Potentially life-threatening? A week and a half in and I might die? Imagine?

The point was, in those other, less legitimately worrying situations, I was a wreck. Sobbing as I got the gates let open for me. The flight attendant giving me an entire row to myself, before swiftly passing out and waking up in a new country that I hadn’t done one second of research on. (That country being Turkey.) Why I was able to keep my cool here? On a roof? Who knows. I had already been through so much mentally that day, what with all of the glares for my outfit, the changing I did in the middle of the market, trying not to be seen behind a clothing rack, the more glares, I think I was just emotionally so exhausted that one more didn’t seem like a big deal, you know? Even after the situation, I kept on around the town. Walking around by myself until it got dark. Even in the dark! (Oy, looking back, I truly had naivety and good karma on my side.) 

Quick thinking

Whatever the reason for my being so calm in that situation, I am thankful for. I mean, my chill but precise thinking, not being overwhelmed by fear was the only reason I didn’t end up “stumbling” off of a roof, with no one ever knowing about it and not a call home to my family. Right? Well, what if I hadn’t already been beaten down so many times that day? What if I had the emotional energy to react in a sporadic way as I had so many times before?

It’s weird. I don’t want to have to be beaten with an emotional stick until I’m a pulp every day, but if it’s the only way to potentially save me… then I guess I would? 

Well, this thought, this needing to be chill in high stress situations, always got to me. It’s not like I had used some wisdom of a thousand years of travel to keep me cool - I was just having a really rough day. It’s also crazy because in the moment, and for the rest of the day, I didn’t really think anything of this occurrence. Like I said, I went on walking around alone for the rest of my day. It wasn’t until a few days later when I was recounting the experience to a friend on the phone and they freaked out that I really took it to heart. I mean, at first I laughed and told them it was “literally fine,” as I play everything. But after I hung up I reflected and thought, maybe it wasn’t? That was three years ago and now this story still comes to my mind at least once a month. It wasn’t fine. It really wasn’t.

So fast forward a year and a half and I’m designing Co-Pilot. I’m figuring out every benefit a traveler might need, right? Of course, this story, my own story, comes to mind. People need to be chill - but not tired. Chill, but focused, able to think quickly despite everything they’ve already done that day - whether it be hiking a volcano, talking to a swami, or getting glared at by hijab hidden eyes. Calm and energized. Felt like a bit of an oxymoron. But hey, jumbo shrimp exist, don’t they? Otherwise, we wouldn’t have a word for them. Oxy-moron.

I’m not gonna lie, it took months of research and all of my knowledge of different types of Ayurvedic medicines I’d learned throughout my travels in India and across many countries at this point, but we figured it out. Ashwagandha root extract (straight from where I learned about it in India) to calm you. B vitamins to invigorate you and give you energy. Green tea leaf and Rhodiola Rosea Root Extract to boost brain function and make you able to think clearly and straight. This turns out to be great for high stress situations such as being nearly thrown off of a roof, or other, less life threatening, but still extremely stress-inducing situations. Such as having a zoom meeting with your boss 12 countries away with failing Wi-Fi in just three hours when you have a project that’s only half done. Or wanting to jump into a waterfall with the promise of safety after so many other people have done it, but still shaking as you pear over the edge. All stressful situations where you need to be able to take a step back, breath, and reassess to find the correct course of action.  

There were more ingredients that could have had a similar effect, but I was playing jigsaw using only ingredients I could source from where I wanted, and only ingredients that would also escalate my other ingredients usages and benefits. For instance, I also needed green tea leaf because it helps aid digestion. Maybe I could have used omega-3s to help improve brain function, but they wouldn’t have helped aid digestion nor boost energy and enhance exercise recovery (two things I needed my supplement to do). So we opt for the best possible solution, not just any solution. Formulation is fun. Actually, probably my favorite part of the whole lot.  

So yeah, I guess what I’m trying to say is, though I hope you’re never trapped on a roof with a beautiful Turkish man, putting you in imminent danger, and I hope your boss doesn’t stress you out beyond compare with unmeetable deadlines while you’re trying to go out and live your life, and I hope you never stand 22 minutes at the wrong gate, only to have to sprint an actual mile in Madrid’s airport with all of your luggage on your back… these things happen. And especially when you’re new to traveling… they happen more frequently than you might assume. (Or maybe I’m the crazy outlier?) Either way, when these things happen, all I want is for you to feel some bit prepared. And that's what Co-Pilot was literally designed to do.

Thank you for coming to my TED talk.



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