From Russia with Love

May 2007. My only visit to Moscow. My only visit to Russia. I stayed at the Golden Ring Hotel. Aside from a horrifying white-knuckle trip via taxi from the airport to the hotel, not much stands out about the trip in my recollection. Well, there was that evening at the hookah bar after dinner and our group had dinner another evening in a private dining room in the Kremlin. That was a privilege rarely extended to “outside” groups, I was told. I suspect that one of our Russian hosts—a woman with whom I remain remotely connected via Facebook—was responsible for making that happen. The woman, absolutely beautiful with deep blue eyes and golden blonde hair, is CEO of several companies that do business internationally. I do vaguely recall my departure from Moscow, wading through line after line to have my papers checked, my passport reviewed, and my airline tickets examined. I took those line to be assertions of bureaucratic control, reminders that I was a commodity to be dealt with as the bureaucrats wished. I don’t recall the flight from Moscow to London on the way home, but American Express receipts suggest I did, indeed, fly to London. Then, the next day, I flew back to Dallas. And, according to American Express, I ate dinner at a Heathrow hotel restaurant the evening before I returned home. It’s amazing how much more one can “recall” from one’s travels by looking at old credit card bills.

I stumbled across several notebooks stored in boxes in the garage the other day, each labeled with a year. The one I happened to leaf through was 2007. That’s how I came across the evidence reminders of my travel to Moscow. I didn’t pay sufficient attention to the receipts to learn  how long I stayed in Moscow, but I am sure it was just a few days, probably three, maybe four at most. I was extremely frugal with my clients’ money and time, so my travel on their behalf was strictly business. I rarely took time for myself, either before or after meetings. I regret that I didn’t take the opportunities to see more of the world when I had the chance. Opportunities like those I missed don’t come around often.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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