3.28.2005

bragging about bishkek

I am feeling boastful about the fact that I have actually been in Bishkek. It is the capital of Kyrgyzstan, which I can't spell without looking at the newspaper. I was on a little junket with Al and Tipper Gore—and a lot of other people—on Air Force II.
The way we arrived in Bishkek was kind of scary. We were actually supposed to be going to Alm Aty in Khazakstan (sp?) and then going on to Bishkek. We had been flying for about a year, and you could tell who the smokers on the plane were because they were getting louder and more argumentative by the moment. I'm not naming any names here (except possibly for that of Strobe Talbot, who, if not a smoker, was surely acting like an asshole). And I had had the forethought to wear a nicotine patch, so I was OK.
We came in for a landing in Alm Aty. But we didn't land. The pilot couldn't see the runway for the snow, so we zoomed up again.
And tried again for a landing.
And zoomed up again.
I heard that either Al was trying to comfort Tipper or the other way around, but as I was sitting back in steerage with the other journalists I don't know what actually happened. My guess is they clutched hands, which is what I should have done with David Burnett, the prince of a photographer I was working with. But I didn't know him that well at the time.
And then the pilot decided to make it to Bishkek instead, which was some hundred miles away. We were running low on fuel.
We quickly switched our briefing manuals to the Kyrgyzstan section instead of the Khazakstan section. I was picturing Al trying to memorize all those new names, like that of Askar Akayev, who just got run out of Bishkek's White House by maddened Democracy-lovers. I assume Bishkek was hastily unrolling red carpets and making last-minute banquet and security arrangements. The U.S. had already airlifted one fleet of armoured cars there, and there were plenty of "our" people on the ground.
We made it to Bishkek.
I even went to their White House, though I made it not much further than the vestibule and thus didn't get to eat the sheep eyeballs and pony flesh. I remember mountains and yurts (or gers, never can remember which) and beautiful horses and funny hats, one of which Al had to put on. They gave him a horse, too, which created some problems.
So. Bet you've never been to Bishkek.

1 comment :

angelina joile said...

Initially, I wondered why you were bragging about having been to Bishkek. First of all, you are not prone to brag. And second, I don't see what relevance Bishkek has to breaking ground next spring. But once again, I realize you have shown amazing prescience. When they were unknowns, you predicted the Police would be huge; you knew Bruce would divorce what's her-name and marry Patti; you sensed our beloved Warren was dying long before the doctor's diagnosis. I was just on the verge of emailing your Blogsites to Betsy and Alex Newton in Ghana!!! They lived in Kazakstan for, like, forever! So there! I guess I've kind of been to Bishkek, in an Eastern sort of way. Love, Angelina Jolie