Humorous anecdote time: During my last sojourn overseas, I had some accumulated R& R (much R& R& R& R& R) time coming. Being the rather bizarre type as I am wence, I decided to go to Turkey. Eastern Turkey. Agra Dagi in fact (those not in the know call it Mt. Ararat). Just for grins as I had become rather disenchanted with Russian vodka and decided that Uzo and Kamish was more to my liking (scotch is STILL awful stuff), I wanted to see what all the brouhaha was about in that general vicinity. Armed to the teeth with Berlitz phrase books (and a cheeseburger in my pocket) (another story altogether), I wandered up to the Beryozka and ordered up a round trip flight to that legendary country.
I was told that virtually anything oriental was available. Silk. Damask. Other stuff (wink, wink, nudge, nudge).
As I deplaned the Aeroflot Ilushin IL-76, I was already loaded (ahem) down with other worldly trinkets, and wanted not of the wares they had to market. I was on a mission, to find what the hell was so intoxicating to the hoards of "Arkeologists" who traversed afar to search for the legendary "Noah's Ark". I was not soon disappointed.
"See here ! Bits of the genuine ark!" crowed one hawker. "Yessir, Mr. Large American. We take you to resting place of the most holy ark!" I felt as if I had stepped into a Monty Python film. "Wood from the ark and pieces of the true cross" yelled one adventurous businessman, obviously confusing one myth with another. Tawdry bits and pieces, obviously meant for the hoi polloi, not wearied, weathered travelers like myself.
"No, nein, nyet. Where's the real stuff?" I asked. Out of the shadows emerged a small, yet sulky, man. "I have what you want" he intoned, "Follow me". Always being one for adventure, I did just that. Through the bazaar, down dark, dank passageways, completely losing whatever I had previously held as points of reference. But no matter, I was on a quest < insert Indiana Jones style music here> .
Off we went, further and further, into the gloom (yet it was near noon in the outside world). Still we went, further into the unknown. At this time, my sixth or seventh sense of danger was ringing like a smoke alarm in Dr. Goldberg's office just after he lit up an Uppmann's. Just where was I being led? Remembering that this was a true story, I pushed on. Finally, after navigating numerous dark passageways and ill-lit alleys, I found myself, quite alone, in a foreign country in a foreign place led by a foreign individual. "Here is what you seek...", he notes...as he pulls back a finely crafted and psychopathically embroidered damask curtain to reveal...
...A large ships wheel (much like that seen in "Star Trek 5. The Search for more money") and a crudely lettered plaque reading "S.S. Noah" < this IS true!> . Not knowing what to think, I just stood there and marveled on how soundly I had just been had. Casting a glance over to my guide, I couldn't help but note that he as barely able to contain himself. He exploded (No. Keep reading. This isn't a Steven King short story.) into a series of guffaws and belly-laughs. "Sir. The look on your face. You do not believe Amed?" Through the laughter and his suddenly improved English, Amed told me how he would lure the unknowing down through what I had just been through to view his masterwork. I asked him what the others thought of his little display. "Most see it as a grand jape", he said, belying his obvious British education, "but those bent on finding the true ark..." "Go on, please" I implored him.
"They want me to stand next to it so they can take pictures."
In the bar, over toasts of Kamish and Vodka, we roared like the Lion of Judah over that last line.
It WAS a good trip.