Story #1 - Peter and I boarded the plane in Sacramento behind a dude who just didn't fit on a plane. If he walked straight down the plane aisle, his shoulders were centimeters away from hitting the seats on either side. To enter the plane from the jetway, this man had to bend his knees slightly and tuck his head way down. I tell you, he just didn't fit!
Well, turns out, he was in the row behind us and at one point in the brief flight, Peter leaned over to me and quietly said, sometime, look closely at the guy's face behind us. When we get home, we can google him and see if it is Reggie Miller.
The plane landed and a whole crew of us lined up on the jetway to gather up the to-big-for-small-planes carry on bags that had been checked at the gate. “Reggie” was among us. Still super tall. A women joked with him, “You must be uncomfortable on a plane”. He chuckled and said, “Goes with the territory.” At which point the women asked how long his inseam is and was surprised when it really was only a few inches longer than hers. Hats off to Reggie for being polite and kind to the inseam girl. Did I mention that as we stood there Reggie donned some not-to-concealing black sunglasses? A hat and a scarf completed the deal.
We didn't even need to google him, we were convinced of who it was (well, Peter was, I will forget who Reggie is in about 2 days). But we did a google image search and it confirmed our suspicions. I always feel sorry for celebrities because people always notice them and then talk about them...and here I am...noticing and talking!
Story # 2 – Aeroflot chicken stew. Aeroflot beef stew. Aeroflot beef stew. Enough said.
Story # 3 – In the Moscow airport, where Peter and I found a undeveloped, carpeted place to sprawl out and lay our heads there was a mom and her 4 year old son (ish) having a grand ol'time, crawling on the floor, playing tag, laughing, tickling each other, running just to run. It was great to see. Mom and boy started throwing the boy's hood back and forth, up and down. Mom threw it too high and it stuck to the ceiling. Uh oh! We laughed. Peter picked up his shoe and proceed to play the “Let's throw the shoe and see if we can knock it down” game. It worked and the mom said, “Spaciba, gracias, thank you, merci” and continued playing with her son. What a world!
Story # 4 – The Taxi.
I am comfortable with planes. I am comfortable even with the possibility of flight delays. I am comfortable with changing planes. I am comfortable with going through the passport controls and then claiming baggage. I am not yet comfortable with securing a taxi in Kyrgyzstan. As our plane began to descend into Bishkek the tension in my neck and shoulders grew. I practiced my lines in Russian. I saw us leaving the airport building and flagging down a taxi. I did not see the hoards of people that awaited us when we left the secure baggage claim area, 1/3rd of which seemed to be taxi vultures, each wanting to gobble up our business. It worked. The first young man to shout “Taxi? Bishkek?” in my face grabbed my attention. I asked him “Skolka stoyet do Mossoviet? (How much to get to Mossoviet – our corner). He said 600 som, I confirmed with Peter if that was okay and he hustled us out to his car. His personal car mind you, with not even the flimsy yellow taxi sign that some people seem to buy and use to run their own taxi service. He was a nice man and it was only a ways into the journey that it hit me, “This guy could take us anywhere! He's not affiliated with any of the major taxi companies. He might even charge us more than he told us.” But I also thought, “Hats off to this motivated dude to hustle like that for our business. It's quite possible this money will help him feed his family, or at least himself for awhile.” I also thought, “Oh, there are quite a few people who might feel nervous right now”. But I didn't. We had to chuckle though because he seemed extra paranoid about getting pulled over. He went the speed limit (which few people do) and when it changed, by the time he hit the indicating sign he was going the appropriate speed. When we passed a couple of cop cars he sat up straight, two hands on the wheel and drove very carefully. I wonder if it is illegal to offer taxi services without a license. All told, he got us to our apartment and didn't charge us more. The only downside is that perhaps it took us longer to get home than was necessary (we saw all the other taxis from the airport passing us). But here we are, safe and sound!