12 Oct 2006

Visiting Sarah at Nizhny Novgorod, Russia

After Budapest, we travelled to Nizhny Novgorod to visit Sarah. At the airport our plane was delayed because it was snowing heavily in Frankfurt and the plane could not take off. By the time it arrived I was sure we'd miss the connecting flight to Nizhny and I was right. However we could have made it if that stupid Air India hadn't blocked our entry. Their plane was blocking our plane and we could not dock until at least half an hour later. By that time our connecting flight to Nizhny had left - we'd mised it by 10 minutes! So what to do in FrankfurtAirport? We tried asking for another flight but the next flight to NIzhny was the next day, late at night!! After some discussion, Repin and Dr Mansor decided to take a flight to MOscow and then take another flight to Nizhny. So later that night we flew to Moscow but in Moscow had to wait another 5 hours for the flight to NIzhny. We had to transfer to another airport - used for domestic flights and waited there. The airport was much smaller that the Moscow airport and did not even have a Macdonalds or even a cafe. In fact there are no shops at all. And not even chairs for us to sit. There were some benches and we had to take turns to sit. So I sat and watched the luggage while Repin and Dr Mansor walked around. There are all kinds of people here. Some looked more Chinese than white Russians, some had darker features with light curly brown hair. In fact I thought they looked slightly middle-eastern. I talked to a couple from Turkmesnistan and found out that they were Muslims - a father and son pair. At least we communicated- even if its in broken English and sign language. Waiting has a new meaning here. There's nothing to do except talk and observe your fellow travellers. The airport is not old - it looks quite new in fact, but it lacks all the cheery good looks of the modern airport in our part of the world. There are no souvenir shops, no telephone kiosks, no comfortable chairs or a waiting area. You can't even see a bank ATM. The colour is drab - everything is white and grey. There are police or armed personnel every 10 feet. I feel I'm still in a communist country somewhere in the 70s. Its cold and you don't know the language. Can anything be worse than this? In all this the only light at the end of the tunnel is the fact that we would see our daughters by tonight - 8 or 9 pm.
Finally at 6pm we got on our flight. It was snowing by then and since there was no covered walkway we had to walk out in the snow storm. It was so cold they had to defrost the plain by throwing hot water over it. I felt really worried. Can we fly in this tin can? I hope we can make it to Nizhny.

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