October 13


My Lufthansa flight to Moscow left San Francisco International Airport on time and headed for Frankfurt. I really hate air travel, at least economy-class air travel. By the time the flight landed, I was worn out, having found myself unable to get any sleep thanks to the narrow seats.

I spent a few hours in the Frankfurt airport. All the Russians (or at least, all the people talking to each other in Russian) were wearing long jackets, trenchcoats almost, or suits and ties. There was no chance I'd blend into that crowd.

The flight to Moscow was uneventful and mercifully short. The Russian international arrivals wing has a leaky roof, dripping water, a neat trick since it's not raining. Lots of soldiers at the airport, most standing around looking bored, some doing their best to look menacing.

Olga and Mitya met me at the airport and we passed lots of interesting places on the way home. The Kremlin, Myakovsky Square, and what may have been the Bolshoi Theater. I embarrassed myself by not recognizing the Kremlin when we approached it from the northwest. But the only view we get of it in the US, as I explained, is from Red Square or the river.

Dinner was good: beets, chicken, calamari (!), bread, cheese, rice, and of course vodka. Russians appear to rival Americans in their sweet teeth, if this family is any indication. Sugar for the apple pie!

Everyone is warm and friendly. We seem to find plenty to talk about. They say my pronunciation of Russian is good, but I haven't said anything difficult yet. (I had listened to a monthlong audio tape course on Russian before the trip, in the hopes of having some chance of understanding what was going on around me.)

No German rock music on the radio in Germany, that I could pick up with my walkman anyway. And Anton, Olga's son, has a Russian group on, singing in English. So much for the lingua franca.

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