Saturday, April 19, 2008

Heading back to Afghanistan

So, I figured that I’d be real annoying to my air travel partners and whip out the ol’ Mac and type up the latest entry to our blog. I do have to say that this UN flight is much more comfortable than the Kam Air flight that Masha and I took to get out of Afghanistan in January. Not that the seats or meal are any better, but at least it left only an hour late, rather than 10.5 hours. You have to be punctual if you want my repeat business.

So, I left my lovely wife back in DC this past Thursday. It wasn’t the first time that Masha and I have said our goodbyes at the airport, but this one was different. Definitely had something to do with the fact that we are now married. And we were making strides to actually spend more time together than apart, but alas, that is now shot to h**l again. I’m sure will hit the break-even point sometime. But it was definitely a little strange to kiss Masha goodbye and watch her leave. Already started to miss her while I was in the security lane. Or maybe I missed her intelligence as TSA stripped me of my 8 oz. bottle of moisturizer that Masha would have certainly made sure we put in the checked baggage. Oh well, that goes on the list of items that my lovely, beautiful, understanding wife will put in my first care packages. Love you baby!!! Kiss, kiss. :x

So the 12-hour flight from DC to Kuwait was relatively uneventful. Decent movies, the spinach pasta was good and my neighbor didn’t try to claim the armrest for the entire flight. Actually, he was really nice and found out that this was his umpteenth trip to Kuwait (enroute to Baghdad) where he’s been working for the last 6 consecutive years. He was just returning from buying a new house to renovate with his wife. He told it this way. They spend their vacation together selecting various updated (i.e. tile, appliances, paint schemes) and now he was going back to pay for it. Such chivalry. Can I hear a collective “aghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh” from the audience?

Landed in Kuwait city. Lovely airport. Saw it for all of 45 minutes as the transfer desk put me on the flight that was leaving in 25 minutes (versus my originally scheduled layover of 6 hours). They assured me that my bags would make. Any takers on that bet? Anyway, I jumped on the plane because I’d get into Dubai at 7 PM versus 2 AM. So, needless to say, the bags didn’t arrive. Don’t know why I was so shocked, but I swear, I spent a good 45 minutes at the empty baggage claim carousel hoping that my bags was going to come out somehow. Stood there while my fellow passengers came and went and then thought, hey, this next flight from Beirut might have my bags, so I’ll just wait here and see. Well, the baggage police (seriously!!! They’re packing these massive radios, walk around menacingly with their billboard sized clipboards and shoo you away if you don’t look like you belong to the plane that just landed!! Come on, like I don’t look like I could be with that guy in the Adidas tracksuit and polished black shoes).

Well, after filing a report with the airline, I took off to the hotel to get some sleep. No such luck. A. I had jetlag, B. I had to keep calling the airline to find out if my bags had arrived on my original flight and C. I had to check my fantasy baseball team stats. Oh, then Masha called and that was nice. Until I apparently blew a rule that we had set up. Get this: After a phone disconnection, I’m supposed to log into Yahoo messenger and start chatting with her, rather than wait by the phone until she calls back. Apparently we had set that up long ago in our pre-marriage, we like each other from a far dating time. Sorry honey, missed that one. I guess I should have tried harder to find the newly updated and revised Husband’s Handbook to Obvious Behavior Protocols and Other Useful Tidbits That Should Have Been in the Prenup. Can’t I just get the latest software update and be done with it? Masha probably feels that I’m always running Windows and she has to keep rebooting and restoring my information every other day when I freeze up and my eye’s go blank like a little LCD screen at the office when the mouse won’t move.

Anyway, so I leave the hotel after negotiating with the room service people that I really don’t want bulgur wheat at 5 AM for my breakfast (but it’s all they serve overnight and breakfast can’t be served until 6 AM, but hey, it’s 24 hour room service!!!). Head back to Terminal 1 to collect my bags (Taxi 1) and then take Taxi 2 over to Terminal 2 to catch all the little planes that fly to no name places like Yerevan, Kabul and Baghdad. Easy check-in and then we wait 3 hours to board plane. Why did I get to the airport 3 hours beforehand? One simple reason: if you haven’t checked in 2 hours before your flight, your seat is up for grabs and you can’t get it back. No joke. (Caveat: the check-in guy didn’t show up until 2 hours before takeoff. According to the rules, in the event of a late ticket agent, you must be in line for your ticket to count. It’s in the Arabic fine print on the back of my ticket).

And yet, they really don’t seem to care if your “carry-on” weighs 100 lbs, is the size of a VW Bug, and can’t fit into the overhead compartment. That’s not their problem, that’s the flight crew’s problem. Love how everyone works as a team.

Anyway, I’ve bored you all to death with nothing really to say. Currently, I’m cruising at 29,000 feet and am about 30 minutes from Kabul. Looking forward to my flak jacket and hooch accommodations. I’ll get pictures up soon so you can all live with me. Hey, you can put it up on Facebook as a place you have visited!!!

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