East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Five (more) Companions for a Night Out

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… but let’s play the meme game “out for a wild night with five imaginary friends” in a slightly different manner, now.

What if I were to select five historical characters, five real persons, that is, to share my table at the restaurant, my box at the theater, and later a nightcap in my favorite night-spot?

Obviously, the catalogue of fascinating historical characters is sohuge and varied, that picking any five is a feat for the foolish, but let’s consider a smaller subset.

This is, after all, karavansara, where adventure and fiction meet and intermingle… so, what about a night out with five of those 20th century scholars-adventurers I love so much?

Let’s see…

clarkLeonard Clark
Ok, so he had a gambling problem… or, actually, he had no problem at all when it came to gambling, or betting on fighting dogs, or playing poker into the night.
Apart from that, he’s the guy that invaded Tibet single-handedly, travelled the world in search of fortune and glory, and most likely for kicks.
Fighting with Chinese insurgents of facing headhunters while treasure-hunting in Borneo, that was his game.
He was last seen en route to the Mato Grosso, where he was sure he’ll find the El Dorado.
And for my money, I’m pretty sure he found it, and he’s still living there as the new king of the natives.

NPG x16614; (Joan) Rosita Forbes (Mrs Arthur T. McGrath) by Howard CosterRosita Forbes
I love her, it’s a well known fact.
Delectable Rosita, who went from driving an ambulance during the Great War to make a tour of the world with her friend Undine, and finally travelled far and wide, from desert to islands to climbing the Hindu Kush in style in a chafeur-driven Rolls Royce.
She interviewed tribal chiefs in the Atlas mountains and politicians in Roman villas, discovered ancient cities in the desert and visited forbidden lands disguised as an Arabian widow.
She shot movies, wrote books, and even invented two cocktails.
Now that’s my kind of lady, yes indeed.

tumblr_ml5ftm2XXO1rffxsno1_500Henry de Monfreid
Seaman, explorer, adventurer, arms and drugs smuggler, corsair, painter, author.
Frenchman, first and foremost.
Oh, yes, and also… comic book character – he appeared in a Tintin story.
The sort of guy that’s granted to land you in deep trouble in five different ways by dinner time, but also a man of culture and quite the conversationalist.
He has been called the last adventurer.
His three books about his adventures and explorations in the Red Sea are a treat not to be missed – sometimes quirky, but highly satisfactory.

1348339626_726243_1348340877_noticia_normalRichard Halliburton
The man that turned adventure into a profession – a classic case of baking the pie, and eating it.
Apparently he could not believe his good luck when he learned he could make a living out of travelling, having adventures and then telling about it to the general public.
Dick Halliburton crossed the Alps with an elephant (not an original idea, but a damn good one), swam the Panama canal and climbed on top of the Taj Mahal.
He wrote books anbd hosted a radio show, before he disappeared at sea while trying to cross the Pacific on a Chinese junk.

prof-william-montgomery-mcgovern-adventurerWilliam Montgomery McGovern
The least known inspiration for the character of Indiana Jones, McGovern was a fine linguist with multiple academical credits when he decided he’d go to Lhasa – in spite of the fact that no foreigner was allowed in Tibet at the time.
He disguised himself, sneaked across the border and then marched on.
A lot of people doubted the authenticity of his adventure, but he had a film to prove it.
Rsourceful guy.
In later years, he traveled to Peru and the Amazon.

Quite a bunch of characters, what?
Sure, in their company, I’d feel like a gnat in the presence of titans… but believe it or not, I am actually capable of shutting up and listen.
So now I’ll shut up.

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Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

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