Eric Baines

Eastern Europe Tour: Day 1, Moscow

by eric on Oct.11, 2010, under Eastern Europe Tour 2010, Music, Uncategorized

I was looking through my passport while in the airport waiting to board the plane and I realized this is my 11th trip to Russia and Eastern Europe in the last 7 years or so. This time I thought I would blog about it as I go and tell some stories of past trips along the way. I hope this isn’t the most boring read you’ve ever experienced and if it is I apologize in advance.

These trips always start with an endurance test. Twelve hours (or more) in the air with Eastern Europeans and yesterday was no different. It begins with boarding. It’s basically like nervous cattle. Sometimes the airline people attempt to board by rows but it never happens. As soon as there’s an open door to the plane everyone bum rushes the gate pushing and shoving as if there’s a fire. If you’ve ever stood in line at the bank with people from other countries you also know that their sense of space is very different from ours. I haven’t been touched by that many strangers since the swingers club in Amsterdam (but that’s a whole different story). 

Once on the plane the fight for space begins. There’s never enough overhead bin space and people are ruthless. I once watched as a very large Russian fellow couldn’t find space above his seat so he removed our percussion players bag, threw it on the floor and replaced it with his own. Not fun. This time the woman sitting next to me arrived at the seat, looked at the stuffed overhead bin above us and said, “Is this your luggage?”. Half of it was and half of it was not. She then asked in a rude and pushy tone, ” But what about my bag? I need to put it up there”, completely ingnoring the half empty bin behind her. I looked at her and said “it’s full” and pointed to any of the other fine looking overhead bins where she could rest her bag.

After you’ve claimed your bin space the fight for the arm rest begins with the person next to you. For me it was the afore mentioned lady who tried to enjoy her seat and about a third of mine. It was a constant battle of elbows. I woke up this morning with bruised ribs (I will admit that I bruise easily, though).

The rest of this flight was fairly tame but you can sometimes also expect a lot of drinking. One time another large Russia comrade got drunk and loud and was harrasing the passengers with his singing and aggressive behavior for at least half the flight. He spent the other half of the flight litterally passed out in the aisle. The flight attendants, however, were so happy that he had shut up that they quietly walked over him for hours making sure not to wake him.

Oh, and did I mention that most Europeans do not use deodorant? Imagine that smell after twelve hours in the air. Mmmmm. I always say that if I ever make it big I’m going to start a charity organization to help bring deodorant to the lesser fortunate countries of the world and stamp out B.O. once and for all. I need to pick my ribbon color.

In the end I managed to get a few hours of sleep, watch a few movies, listen to newest MuteMath record (which is awesome, btw) and play hours of solitaire on my Ipod. We landed safely in Moscow (Everybody still claps when they land here. I think that’s so 1978) and people immediately started clammering for their bags…while we’re still taxying! It’s crazy! I don’t know if people can’t hear when flight attendants are screaming over the P.A. to remain seated, they can’t see the “fasten seatbelt” sign or if they just don’t care. Some things I’ll never understand.

We were then greeted by our local crew who took us to dinner and that’s where the reward begins. Riding through the street of a foreign country where you can’t read a thing, the language is weird, the smells are different and the buildings are crazy, old and beautiful. Then the pizza dinner tastes good but just a little off in a way you can’t quite figure out. It’s really what I live for. I’m immediately refreshed and ready for adventure. Let the games begin!

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