There is a wider post here about life changes, blah blah, The Tower Trump and so on somewhere… I’ve been on buses that have caught fire this week, for instance… but to fastforward to approximately twenty hours ago… my BA flight to Singapore was delayed in departing London by four hours for three separate reasons. (Hello compensation!)
And then, somewhere just past Azerbaijan, two separate passengers had medical emergencies.
Off course, if the plane wasn’t older than cuneiform, we’d have been over India -a land of awesome hospitals- when angina struck a couple of old people.
If you look at a map, you’ll see that the options for a British plane aren’t exactly great for a medical emergency when you’ve just passed Azerbaijan, the last friendly-ish country in the whole region. So we spun around, circled Warsaw for some reason and then landed in snowy Kiev.
Thing about Kiev… you need a visa to actually get into it. I blame Putin for this, because if he hadn’t cockblocked the country’s entry into the EU at the last second, I obviously would not need a visa, and would be penning this post, sober, from a clean, former-Soviet hotel.
Maybe it’s because I dressed as him to go to my American company’s Christmas party last week (for pro-gay reasons, not anti-American ones), but Putin’s cockblock was enforced. If we had landed in Warsaw, I’d have knocked off one of my last bucket list euro countries (I think I love Poland). But we landed in Kiev and I had to donate a pen to the security staff because clearly the airport pen had run out of ink??
So, after receiving a handwritten credit note for a boarding pass, we were booted from arrivals -an empty hallway adorned with the most terrifying Santa you have ever seen- to a gleaming but equally empty departures hall, clearly built to welcome the country into the EU. Nothing was open except duty free and I’m currently all good for off-brand vodka.
Four hours later, the local BA rep arrives and escorts myself and a few dozen other Australians into the only two airline lounges in the airport. (Bribes rule here, according to a fifty-something Newcastle man who comes here to visit his 26-year-old girlfriend. 110mph costs €25. So thanks for the local bribe, BA.)
This is the site of some exciting exchanges. Beyond the genuinely amazing beauty of the local girls, that gruff, Russian way of communicating appears to rule here. An exchange from ten minutes ago:
Me: May I please have a glass of red wine?
Barman: You want dry or sweet? (Sidebar: what?)
Me: Umm, I’m not sure. Which one do you prefer?
Barman: I no like wine.
There’s a few seconds of absolute silence before I, feebly, ask for the dry. (Shoulda gone with the ‘sweet’. It’s local. I’m drinking it right now, and it’s like someone spilled maple syrup into some watery pinot noir. Jet lag!)
We are celebrating, because being dumped, Tom Hanks style, in a foreign airport with no legal ability to go through customs is quite disconcerting. As my partner is a much better person than me, and definitely a much better anything than BA, he jumps on a few online air travel fora to allay the fears of concerned relatives whose eldery family members are fifteen hours late and stuck in a country of riots and bribes.
Like this chick, whom we have spent the last eight hours with. When she saw my iPhone cover (it’s a fluro pink Ganesha cover) she clasped my hand and asked “if I believed in him”. Bitch, the resemblance is startling, of course I believe in him. Although he’s really dropped the ball with these travel arrangements, yeah?
I tried peer pressure, but she won’t drink with me because she’s proper Hindu and I’m a fat gay chaos magician who knows a few mantras and bought some statues in Amsterdam. (Ganesha and I have an arrangement. This is part of it, actually.) Anyway, my partner found this woman’s frantic son on the forum and I took this photo so he could email it over to prove how much fun his mother is having.
It’s not a huge amount of fun but you can have a shower which is fun for air travellers. This is a little tip for any long-haul newbies. Pack clean underwear in your carry-on and shower in the lounge at your midpoint. This isn’t our midpoint, we are only four hours from London, but it has taken me twenty one hours and counting to get four hours from London.
This is a tip for the slightly-more-seasoned long haul traveller. Pack hair product in your stupid clear plastic bag of liquids to take on board because otherwise you will emerge from your first Soviet-era shower and your hair will slowly dry into what can only be described as ‘Legoman paedophile.’
Think I’m kidding?
I described it thusly to an Australian couple who currently live in Texas, work in oil and gas and know a certain Texan oil family. They both laughed but then… as the hair started to dry… I decided to move to the next lounge.
Anyway, I mention them because the wife is a journalist and, after at least four ‘sweet wines’, I got to launch into a considered screed about elite belief systems and certain blue blood American families. Somebody’s spinning in Kiev, eh?
All of this is happening on top of some monumental changes I have controlled demolished into my life, with the backdrop of my first trip back to my hometown in more than six years. More about all of this when I actually manage to legally enter at least one country.
Hopefully that country will be my birth country, as the only person more distressed about the destruction of 3.5 days of my holiday is my mother the psychonaut, who has evidently been liaising with Tourism Australia to ensure my visit is at Prince Harry standards so that I will unilaterally decide never to leave again. If there isn’t a military flotilla in Sydney Harbour I will be secretly disappointed.
Until then… this is what sweet Ukranian wine blogging with severe jet lag looks like. I’m only fifty seven per cent sure I’ll even remember hitting publish on this.
The voice on the loudspeaker just issued a last call for Minsk. Where the fuck am I?