04 April 2007

Terminal Velocity

So much for the tekhnicheskii pereryv...

I'm writing this from the terminal at Domodedovo, waiting for my British Airways flight to board. I should be sleeping - its 4:30 am, and I didn't go to sleep last night. The car picked me up at 3:00, so what was the point? I would be sleeping were it not for a curious phenomenon that has broken out behind me.

It seems that a large group of Russians and a smaller group of Central Asians have joined forces and vodka bottles from the duty-free shop and are throwing one hell of a party. Seriously, they're having a great time back there, hollering and laughing almost to the point of tears. I half expect them to break out in song at any moment now...Ah, there it is, one man started singing a tune. They've taken so many pictures or their old and new friends already, I'm afraid they won't have any film left for their real vacation.

Did I mention that it's 4:30 am and they're on their way to getting good and drunk (in all likelihood they are already)? And that we're all on our way to London? I have no doubt that the party is going to migrate to the plane, following me all the way to London. Talk about friendship of peoples! And all I really want to do is sleep. So much for that idea.

Obviously I'm irritated and more than a little puzzled: how in the hell can anyone - ANYONE - be so lively at this time of day? And yet part of my (the part of me that's clinging on to my sense of humor) can't help but smile. After all, anyone who knows how to turn 4:30 in the morning at the airport into such a good time knows a thing or two about life. I guess it comes with the territory - a people that knows how to suffer also knows how to rejoice.

That's as philosophical as I can be at 4:30 in the morning (did I mention that it's 4:30 in the morning and all I want to do is sleep?). I have a feeling that little glint of a smile on my face will have disappeared by London, though...

*****************
Update from London:
It turns out the raucous crowd of Russkii partygoers weren't on my flight after all, so I have no idea what they were doing at our gate. Actually, I know very well what they were doing there (they were having a party at 4:30 in the morning). I just don't know why they were doing it there.

Fortunately it was an uneventful and rather empty flight, but I still didn't manage to sleep much; I rarely do on airplanes, no matter how tired I am. The only detail worth noting was the lone Russian who burst into thunderous applause when the plane landed in London. This seems to be a common reaction to the successful landing of an airplane among Russians - I've observed it many times flying in and out of Moscow. If anything, today was unusual in that only one passenger took up the cheer. I always chuckle when they applaud, as it implies that their safe arrival is an unexpected and pleasant surprise. I suppose with Russia's aviation safety record, this is an understandable reaction...

London, I'm finding, is sort of an intermediate gray area for me. The English (and often South Asian) accent is just "foreign" enough to my American ear that I instinctively start attempting to decipher the code from Russian into English. But then I realize that they're speaking my native tongue, by which time I've missed the first couple of words of the sentence. Very confusing. I also keep feeling the urge to address people in Russian. However, I'm keeping my mouth shut, as Russian + London hasn't been a very healthy combination lately...

3 comments:

trivera said...

If it means anything, Puerto Ricans applaud when a plane lands anywhere. Get on a flight to San Juan and the plane erupts with applause and cheers when it touches the ground. As for the Russians, I can't really explain their reaction...

Lyndon said...

Back in the day, people would applaud when the plane took off, so happy were they to be leaving the USSR.

I've always enjoyed the applause upon landing, although it's a bit premature - when the plane touches down there are still plenty of chances for things to go wrong.

Tim Holme said...

Looks like MIT is having a little break from Russia as well. Read on:
http://www-tech.mit.edu/V127/N17/ihouse.html


It's a sad day. The Slav Dom of MIT is going...