May 29th “Déjà vu, again ?”

It is 5:30 am and I am back in Moscow for the week. No particular reason except to of course see “Judinka” and try and get in front of some of those items which sometimes get in the way. Bank accounts, apartment keys, moving stuff from one place to another.
I am paying for this trip out of my accumulated Delta Air-miles. I doubt Delta will be my airline of choice so decided to use them up for this trip and it effectively cleaned me out.

I was woken up by someone working outside shoveling something and being very energetic about it at 5:30 on a Sunday morning. The trees now have leaves so I cannot see what is actually being moved so energetically but given I am up and it will be a few hours before Judi surfaces thought I would play a bit on the blog. The statistics suggest some people are reading it but they do not seem reliable as they can go up and down for the same day but I am going to persevere even if it is only as a reminder to me of what’s happening.

The “Déjà vu” reference is for Atlanta Airport. Back again for the trip and into the process. There are now “two” greeters asking me “Where’s you goin” so there must have been some people getting through going nowhere and there have reinforced the checks. I have my card in my hand so I am confident I am in the clear until one asks “where’s your ticket”. “One of those nice people behind the counters has it” I reply which is slightly sarcastic but appropriate. There is a slight Mexican stand off as we eyeball each other but I step through and they turn in unison to the next person who foolishly does not have their card out and are now searching through various bags to try and prove they are going somewhere. Personally I would have thought the 4 suit cases would have been a clue but the greeters are not falling for that old trick.
Get my ticket and hand over my two bags. They are not as big as last time as most of our bags are now in Russia so all that is left are a random collection of odds and ends of luggage. Now given I am process and Judi is logistics it is surprising that we have managed to not work out we should have returned some to Atlanta to help with getting all our “needed” items over before the removal men come. I have managed to jam a small duvet and some towels into a bag I have to buy to get my stuff back from Geneva several years ago so this is the second time it has been used in what? 10 years. 

Hang around the airport which I know like the back of my hand and wait for my flight. Boarding is the usual chaos trying to board by zone when the passengers operate in a different language is amusing and the guy handling the boarding seems to be spending more time turning people away “no zone 1 not zone 5,4,5,6,3”. Frustrated he gets on to the public address and this time louder “Zone 1” only. Now I thought it was an English thing to speak LOUDER when not being understood. It is good to know we have exported this process to the rest of the world. I slip through with my Breezway ticket which is like a “get out of jail free” card in monopoly and works just fine.

I am close to the back of the plane row 31 and given zone 6 is being held I have time to settle in. Books, iPod, peanuts, Suduko etc. I look up and I know exactly what’s going to happen next. Bearing down is a guy in a mulit-colored checked jacket which even from 20 rows away what I can see is one of the worst wigs in the world. The color of straw with a texture to match and looking like it has been hacked at with blunt scissors. I know he will end up next to me, but no he believes I am in his seat which i am confident is incorrect but fine let him try. I know the plane is full so if correct I will get bumped up to business. He seems convinced the seating goes A,B,C,D,E,G,F. No sir see that little window next to the G sign thats you. Not happy with my explanation he triple checks with the attendants and then grudgingly seats himself down next to me in the window G seat. Still in his jacket with his bag under his feet his knees raised above the fold away table which will be a problem later. I try and concentrate on my Suduko wondering how long I can avoid looking at that truly remarkable hair piece. It goes through my mind how he is handled by the customs people. Does his passport show the picture? if not and this is a disguise it certainly does not work. I think the jacket is also not helping even if you miss the head piece you are not going to miss this (think technicolor dreamcoat) Maybe he is trying to travel incognito if so then it is not working as everyone who passes us takes a good long look.
Also on the plane is a princess well I assume it is a princess by the way she is instructing her servant (maybe husband) to put this up and take it down and adjust the air and give me your pillow and get some more. She also must be wearing her favorite outfit which probably fitted when she got it now but that was possibly two sizes ago and now looks a little taut. Other than this there is a guy who once we are airborn wants to open the Vodka he purchased in Duty free. This seems to be a problem for the stewardesses and his comment that we are over international waters which I think is inspirational cuts no ice with them so no ice for him. Now I do have a little sympathy for the crew and think if you are going to surreptitiously drink on a plane then probably best if you buy a half bottle of something (which I have done) rather than a 2lt bottle which is so big they have built a handle into the side of it. This is a little difficult to hide. 

Hey “Hotel for dogs is on” how unusual to have the same film 3 times in a row (not). Fine I have my iPod and just settle down. Not much of a flight except I really don’t sleep at all which I will pay for later in the week I know.

We land and when that familiar “ping” of the seatbelt light goes off everyone gets up and gets ready to deplane. I sit still which seems to be annoying the bewigged guy but I say we are not getting off yet trust me. After 10 minutes the announcement comes “will everyone return to their seats we need to check for swine flu”. I turn and smile. So on they come, masks gloves gowns and rubber boots. Now the process has changes slightly as last time once checked you could leave which logically is wrong as if the last person on the plane is the “hot” one you have released the rest into the environment. This time we have all got to sit still until the everyone is checked.

This done we get off and I file into the “Diplomatic queue” which I know is actually anyone. I want to avoid being behind “wiggy” and the “salvation army group” who are all in uniform and surprised me by “not” singing on the plane. I have actually had several trips with choirs and one 12 hour trip with 150 scouts to Hong Kong, they could sing but not a lot of melody and a very small repertoir.
Ok my queue has 10 people in front of me, fine. Inch forward and then make a big leap forward as Customs turns away 5 locals who do not believe they need to fill out the form. The unaccompanied minor is next and seems slightly belligerant when asked to take off his sunglasses and baseball cap so they can identify him. Me next and I notice the customer girl has a mask on. Fine they are trying to ensure they are safe. The down side is that every time she speaks she pulls the mask down thus defeating the objective I think. Bang bang goes the stamp and I am through just beating the airline crew who get invited to the front of the diplomatic line.

Baggage claim is a bit of a mess. Last time we had three conveyrors which I thought was weird but now I understand why. This time we have one and there seems to be a flaw. the turns are too sharp so bags keep falling off and this in turn knocks off the ones behind. Rather than throw them back on they are left to pile up so it is a bit of a free for all as people are rummaging to see if their belongi
ngs are in the growing heap on the floor. I decide to go to the smoking area for a while and let them sort it out returning to find they have neatly lined them all up and I pick up my two and head out for my taxi. 

Mr Grumpy my driver suggests I am late, I try and explain it was more due to the plane than me personally and off we go. It’s hot I think