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It was another hectic day. Again, I booked my flight early in the morning, so I had to leave the hostel at 5:20 am. I went out the previous night and came back to the hostel at around 3:00 am, so I only had about 2 hours of sleep. I was feeling sick and exhausted... At least, I was flying out from Saint Petersburg's Pulkovo Airport. Going through Pulkovo is a breeze, compared with Sheremetyevo, because it is such a compact airport.

Once at Moscow's Sheremetyevo Terminal 1, I realised that the hostel in Moscow forgot to arrange my transportation from the airport, yet again. When I called them yesterday to check if I had a booking, the girl who was in charge promised to send me a confirmation email, which she never did. She even seemed "disturbed" that I actually called in to check about my booking (which is her job, duh!). Now that I found out she did not arrange anything for me, I was really pissed off. Together with the taxi company ("MosCab") charging me 2000 roubles for a ride to the city, I was in a really bad mood! What's more, I found out I lost my key to the suitcase lock. It was simply NOT my day.

The cab driver that took me to the hostel from the airport was a quiet guy. He started talking to me after reaching Leningradskoe Shosse. I found out he was ethnic Russian from Grozny --- the capital of Chechnya. Although my poor Russian comprehension skills did not allow me to have a more sophisticated discussion with this guy, his life story as a refugee from Chechnya fascinated me. Apparently, he used to live better during the Soviet times, when it was much more peaceful in Chechnya. He was born and raised in Grozny, and he continued to live there as an engineer working in the oil industry until the war broke out. His parents and many of his friends were killed during the war, and he himself had to flee for his life. Now, he is settled in Moscow, but he does not know what had become of his friends. Hearing a real life story like this is a powerful experience. It is one of the reasons why I keep on travelling. There is nothing more exciting to me than meeting people and hearing about their life stories. After talking to the cab driver, I was no longer as pissed off as I was earlier.

Later on, I managed to find people who could open up my suitcase. I went to a local shoe repair shop, and they broke the lock. I was ready to pay for their kindness, but they graciously refused. Russia wasn't that bad after all. On the surface, Russia may appear to be a shabby country full of grumpy and hostile people. But the presistent visitor will discover the generosity and graciousness of Russian people. It is such a spontaneous country, and I loved it!

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photo by: eefab