Drunk in Moscow, Not Idaho

In 1994 I traveled from Malaysia to Paris on Aeroflot.

The Kuala Lumpur-Karachi-Dubai-Moscow-Paris flight time to Moscow totaled about 24 hours. None of them were comfortable in the flimsy chairs of the Soviet era jetliner.

Disembarking at Moscow, I discovered that my connecting flight to Charles De Gaulle was delayed until the next morning.

A Norwegian couple were in a similar predicament and I said, “It’s 10PM. What are we going to do all night?”

“Drink wine.” The husband pulled out two bottles of wine.

“I have two.”

“And my wife has two.”

We opened the bottles and sat on the floor surrounded by hundreds of stateless travelers trapped in the aeroport. Some looked as if they had been in limbo for weeks. After finishing the wine a refugee from Afghanistan sold us a bottle of vodka.

The vodka was homemade. The liter lasted longer than the wine. Several other Afghans fleeing the civil war joined Jameer with other bottles. They spoke in dialects. After two bottles of the gut-burning samogon I spoke in tongues, and sang amy version of the Pashto song Da Hujrey Mijlas but was losing consciousness from the overdose of hard spirits and lack of sleep.

It was dawn.

In Moscow.

“Russia.

“Your flight is now.” The Norwegian pulled me to my feet.

“I don’t care.” I wanted to stay in the aeroport. “Life simple here.”

“You have to go.” His wife escorted me to the plane.

“Bon Voyage.” I saluted them at the door of the Airbus.

Stepping on board I rejoined civilization and I stumbled down the aisle to my seat. The faces of the other passengers gauged my drunkenness better than a breathalyzer. No one wanted me to sit next to them. I fell into an empty row and buckled up for take-off.

Several hours later a stewardess shook my shoulder me.

“We are in Paris.”

“Already?” I was the last passenger on the plane.

“We’ve been on the ground for 15 minutes.”

“Great.” I got to my feet and trudged out into the terminal. The time was 8:30. My friends were waiting for me in the city.

It was Bastille Day.

It was good to be out of Moscow.

People drink too much there.

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