Saturday, July 9, 2011

Aeroflot, or Entry into Russia

Transcriptions from the flight :

8/7/2011 14:19, JFK Airport

I've been given seat 33A on this Aeroflot flight (they asked me if I preferred a window or an aisle seat!). Danielle, a grad student who is also on this trip hsa the seat next to mine, but we are scattered about the airplane otherwise.

My back and neck have all sorts of cricks and my period started this morning, so I'm not in top physical form. Solution: start exercising regularly. I'm gonna get up at 8AM every morning and do jumping jacks and sit-ups, as this journal is my witness.

The clicks of people's seat belts sound kind of like the hole punchers that conductors have on trains--each one leaves me fumbling for my ticket until I remember that I've already had my boarding pass checked. I'm done. All that's left is to fly there.

The right strap of my green Creek Freak backpack finished ripping as I went through security, so I went looking for a sewing kit. No one in the airport sells them
because of the needles, so I bought a new IZOD backpack for US$40-ish. This is my first expense of the trip.

Then I trekked over to Gate 8, where the other students had already begun gathering. We did a sort of circle introduction, ate lunch, chatted, and otherwise chilled out until it was time to board.

18:30 EST time, somewhere over the Atlantic?

We've had a lot of turbulence this flight. It's now cabin-imposed night (lights off, windows closed, else the glare off the clouds would be blinding), but only about half the people on the airplane are sleeping. Danielle's working on a paper about a Dutch composer's use of audible breathing as an instrument(?). She lent me a pair of headphones. I decided that reading
Modern Drummer (a favourite magazine of mine) without also listening to music was silly. We had dinner around 5-ish: fish, rice, veggies, and a chocolate mousse thing for dessert. They also gave us tea, which was very welcome.

Things I am determined to do once I'm in St. Petersburg:

  • exercise in the morning. Brooks Wackerman does Surya (salute to the sun), like my dad does, to keep himself loose for performances
  • get some drumsticks and start practicing again
  • tango regularly
  • see the Mariinsky Ballet
  • wander St. Pete
We're so far above the clouds, and the sun is so bright in the West... beautiful.

9 Jul 2011 9:50 (Russian Time), Sheremetyevo, Moscow

The flight was all right as such things go. The man who sat in front of us was drunk the whole flight. I felt nothing but contempt for him as the flight went on, and I'm sure the other passengers shared my feelings. I also began to sneeze regularly and my nose became runny. That is both unpleasant and inconvenient. Breakfast was served around 5AM, Russian time. It was a gross omelet with gross hash browns, and equally gross bacon, with overly strong tea. My stomach was not pleased at all by that combination.

Hopefully my health will even out ASAP. After breakfast, I tried to catch some winks, but it did not work too well.

In-flight movies were
Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, which I did not watch because of a lack of both headphones and interest. Then it was a Russian film to which I tuned in in the middle, but toward the beginning. It was about a boy who befriends a rogue who he thinks is his father, thus improving the lives of the man, the boy, and the boy's mother in equal measure. The last was Dawn Treader, which I avoided watching too closely because it looked as though it deviated from the book as much as I thought it did, or perhaps more.

At 8:00, we arrived at Sheremetyevo, in Moscow. We got our baggage and went through Passport Control where I gave in half of the migration card I had filled out on the plane. The airport official made a comment about my horrendous passport photo, cementing my plan to fix that as soon as I get back.

Then, we got our next ticket, checked our baggage, and went through security. Now we are awaiting the next flight, which will be at 11:00. I hope my nose stops being runny ASAP. Zoe, a girl who has been on the Russia trip before and is doing a homestay this time around, gave me some tampons since I'd used mine up on the plane. That was super nice of her.

12:43, on the plane Moscow-->St. Petersburg

Boarding did not begin 'til half past 11:00, which I've been told is perfectly normal for Aeroflot. I've been bonding with my programmates over fiction, music, and the like. Once we were on the plane, it took so long to begin taxiing that I decided to nap. It didn't quite work.

During the calm part of the taxiing, the flight attendants did their dance, which was awesome. I have some things to say about the gender-based uniforms on Aeroflot, but I'm not sure what they are at the moment.

I read through one of the two available magazines, which had a pretty good article about Kirsten Dunst which I read through both in Russian and in English. Then we began preparing for takeoff and I turned my attention to the window. I'm in the aisle seat this time, so my row-mates were in my line of sight, both with magazines in their hands. I wanted to scream at them.

"We are hurtling in a great metal beast at over a hundred miles an hour and in a few moments we will lose touch with the ground! Stop flipping idly through your magazine as if this is normal, as if this is everyday, as if it's okay!" I wanted to cry. My brain is given to hyperbole at times, but I felt that sentiment in my bones the whole time.

Once we were in the air, I managed to nap for a bit before they gave us snacks and tea. This meal was a croissant with lettuce, cheese, and chicken. I wasn't sure I'd have the stomach for it, but I managed it and after the first few bites it was quite adequate. I kept the apple juice that came with it for later.

Zoe was in the row in front of me chatting in Russian with the man in her row. I'm pleased with her already. The girl in the row in front and across the aisle is
beautiful--long red hair, big hippie glasses and clothes... Her two kids are a bit rowdy but also quite cute. I'd like to be her friend in another life.

Now we are descending, so I am ceasing to write.

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