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Ten Days to Moscow | by Viewminder
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Ten Days to Moscow

This was my cabin on the Transiberian Railroad... the bunk on the lower left is where I slept in between bottles of vodka. I lost track of the days that passed as I watched Siberia and all of Russia slide by that window.


My cabin mates, the two Andres, both on their bunks... and a woman they travelled with (not pictured) were Polish smugglers.


Their contraband is in the bags and boxes on the bunk on the upper right.


I noticed that they bribed every official that came to our cabin. Their boxes and our bags were never searched.


After a few days with them and running low on vodka I inquired about the contraband. Perhaps it was something that could take the place of the vodka I was running low on.


I had almost finished up twelve liters of the Russian tranquilizer and the journey wasn't even a quarter done.


Prodding incessantly, Andre the Elder as I called him, finally pulled out a knife and cut into one of the heavily duct taped bags.


I laughed as he pulled out a tiny pair of knock off Nike baby shoes.


They were baby shoe smugglers.


I believe he said they carried four thousand pairs.


My vodka would soon be gone and the very thought of absolute sobriety on this segment of the journey frightened me to no end. I needed something to numb me from the constant clacking of the rails and the rocking of the carriage cars day and night.


Baby shoes wouldn't cut it.


When I was down to my last litre of the white tonic of trans siberian tranquility the desperation of my situation became painfully apparent... with days to go and thousands of bumping and rocking miles to go until Moscow... the threat of unmitigated sobriety was a thoroughly terrifying proposition... a plan of effective action was needed. This was one of those situations where deep thinking and careful analysis was mandated because failure was never an option. Failure I feared would lead only to insanity.


Staring at that last litre of potato spirits I hatched the perfect plan. It was almost biblical in its detail... inspired by the story of the loaves and fishes. I had one chance to execute this plan... one chance to make perfect every aspect and detail. If I succeeded I knew that the journey to Moscow would be a pleasant one. Filled with many warms swallows of the medicine that made all the swaying and all the bumping better.


Desperate times called for desperate measures... and indeed these were desperate times. That last litre might have lasted me almost a day with the obligatory pours to my compatriots on the train.


I needed it to last a week or more.


My plan was to take that last bottle of vodka and walk up and down the train and share it woth everyone. Particularly those that wouldn't appreciate it because they were sitting on their own substantial stashes of the stuff.


I would use the Russian mindset to my own benefit. The sharing of a drink was a type of communion to these people. It was one of those things that they wouldn't take lightly. It was one of those things that they wouldn't forget.




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Taken on December 23, 2008