Back From Russia — With Love, Of Course

Yes, I like Ian Fleming as much as I like Dante Alighieri 😉

“…altre rivolgon sé onde son mosse,
altre roteando fan soggiorno;…”

“Some come back to where they started from,
Others, wheeling round, still keep at home;…”

(The Divine Comedy, Paradiso XXI: 38-39)

A week of fighting jet lag, struggling with overflown inboxes and general catch-up with CMS news (what, OTEX bought VIGN ?), and I am back to blogging.

Some culturally-agnostic anecdotes from the trip are below. Once you land in Russia, every little bit of life is anecdotic and very much “the Russian soul“-like with all its complexity and philosophical depths, so I will stop here. A picture is worth a thousand words, they say, so check out my Flickr sets here: one for Moscow and one for Siberia.

Flight of Delta Quality

Irina (staring at my Delta “special meal” lunch): What are you?
Special meal: Who cares? You’re hungry, I know that for sure.
Irina: Ummm…
Special meal: Oh shut up, did you forget you’re not flying Air France?

Word of Mouth Marketing

Lunch time, the choice is… yes, you guessed it… pasta or chicken.
Fellow traveler from one row up: what would you recommend (to attendant)?
(I whisper to him: “Take the chicken.”)
Delta’s attendant: Oh, I don’t know. I never eat this food. But I hear passengers like chicken better.
He takes the chicken, thanks me and we don’t talk for the rest of the 10-hour flight.

In-flight IM-ing, Sans Wi-Fi

Four hours into the flight, I just finished writing my Ingeniux story for CMSWire and my only thought is “It’s a long flight.” As I walk towards my seat, I notice that a guy who sits right behind me is writing some code. I am clearly bored. I write on a paper napkin: “What are you coding?” and pass it to the dude behind me.

He promptly responds to me on a notepad with his company’s logo. (a horrid logo, btw.) We are talking technology, web design, Java, writing. His company makes a “glorified FrontPage” and he is sorta in “my field.”


Then he proceeds to tell me his love story. He is going to see a Russian gal in St. Petersburg he hardly knows.

And… then he flirts with me.


I  say “LOL, yes” to “doomed.”

An hour or so of passing the notepad back and forth later, and after he says he likes my biz class Delta, bright red socks (see above, that flight attendant who gave them to me was really nice) and asks for my phone number, I decide to close that “chat window.” Snuggle across my two seats of a “bed” and fall asleep.

Gimme Some Ham

An old couple pulls out a Ziploc full of grocery store-cut ham.
He (to wife, as he devours the ham): Stay with me.
She: I need room to breathe (moves 10 rows away, after taking some ham.)

Revenue is of No Importance

Late evening 5-hour flight from Moscow to Siberia, dinner time (meat, fish or chicken). I am already culturally shocked after a “nice” gentleman dropped his suitcase on my foot and yelled at me, and everyone seems to have a different (from mine) view on personal space.
Attendant: What would you like to drink?
Irina: I’ll have a glass of red wine, please.
Attendant: We don’t serve wine in coach.
Irina: Can I buy it from business class? (As I sit in the first row after the completely empty 2 business class rows, their flight attendant is sitting there, enjoying a book)
Attendant: No, you can’t. You only have a choice of tea or coffee.

More than an hour before landing, she came back to collect my blanket. I didn’t have a choice to stay semi-cozy until the very end of flight. Company policy, she says. The blankets must be interfering with plane’s communication devices.