Siberia, Russia Part 3– Communist Aircrafts and Defining “Fluent”
In the first two parts of this series, we covered my decision to move from San Diego to Chita, Siberia to be a professor at Chita State Technical University. We pick up the story aboard the flight from Anchorage to Khabarovsk, Russia.
Technically, it’s day two and half. I believe. Time started to blur as we flew over the international date line. Wait, do we add a day or lose a day? I was so baffled that I didn’t understand whether to whine about losing or getting a day in my life. Whatever day it was, we were flying along gladly on Aeroflot.
I should say that communism had some things going all out. The typical airline company ticket in the United States must include a shoehorn to assist wedge you into the seat. God forbid if the person in front of you should put their seat back. Damn individuals in first class! Communism solved this issue well.
I would not state our airplane was old, however the younger aircrafts around our gate were crowding in to hear our aircraft tell stories about the very first flight of the Wright bros. Despite some intriguing details [My God, does that look like a crack in the wing? That much better not be duct tape!], the “maturity” of our flying bull had some distinct advantages.
A main idea of communism is that there is just one class of people, to wit, the employees. In theory, everyone gets the very same treatment. The benefits of this theory are arguable, but I can inform you it stomps capitalism into the ground when it concerns flying.
The seating compartment on our aircraft was consistently very first class. There was plenty of space for one’s rump and legs. Each two-seat section was the equivalent of 3 seats on a U.S. airline. It was at least two feet to the seat in front of me. Those that fly a lot will comprehend as I quietly shed a tear in memory of that flight. Dozing conveniently, I didn’t offer a damn if the wings fell off. At least we were going in style!
Our flight included about 100 individuals. Of these, 90 percent were Russians. Grae and I counted as 2 and the remaining 5 or two individuals were religious volunteers going to convert the godless masses. They appeared to be having no luck on the aircraft, however Grae and I had the ability to strike up a couple of conversations.
I should state that the Russians on the aircraft were very nice and very honest. While honesty is normally a good thing, their frankness made me a bit unpleasant. First, there was a clear agreement that we were out of our mind for agreeing to go to Chita. “You are going WHERE?!” was followed by a lot of whispering in between Russians and bulging eyes. Given that I questioned the pilot would want to turn the aircraft around, this wasn’t particularly soothing.
Our conversations raised an extra issue regarding the definition of “fluent”. In my mind, being fluent in a language implied that a person might get directions, inform uninteresting stories, etc., in the language in concern. It quickly became clear that Grae’s meaning of “fluent” was something less. This was verified when he relied on me and said, “Man, I have actually forgotten a lot.”
Great. Khabarovsk was just a few hours a way. However that’s a story to be informed in Part 4 of this series …