I would spend years going to places all over the FSU (the former Soviet Union). Then there was Chechnaya. It started like every other airlift at the airport. People crying, saying goodbye, and excitement for the freedom from persecution that was to come. Our Israeli contact told us he was taking these people to Jerusalem, and would be back in 2 days. In the meantime, my assistant and I would stay with these 2 local bodyguards, and one Israeli who was stationed there.
“We want to take you to a privately owned Restaurant! They have great oxtail soup!” One of them said. Bells and whistles started to go off in my head. I wasn’t touching the soup. The guy next to me asks why. “I’m a vegetarian.” He sticks his hand, with his long dirty fingernails into the bowl, takes it out, and says, “Now, it’s vegetarian!”
Ok, this isn’t going to be as easy as I thought. My assistant and I both sensed the danger. I am going to skip a lot of frightening details, and just say we managed to get back to the hotel. We holed up through the night and escaped at 5am. A taxi got us to the airport. “Ok, who’s going to Moscow?” I yelled out in this tiny waiting area. A Pilot came over, I “gifted him appropriately, and off we went.” Wheels up, and I could breathe. There’s a lot more to this story, including an Israeli Commander who kept denying he was a spy. This was followed by a romantic interlude that would stretch from the ice of Russia to the romantic desert winds of the Middle East. But you’ll have to wait for the memoirs.