Sunday, February 19, 2012
Finale - Moscow Meow
“Blue, this is your Ushanka, wear it with pride,” says Big Red. Blue looks strangely at the hat. “Maybe later…” He responds, taking the hat with hesitation.
“Russia is unforgivingly cold, so you’ll need to protect yourself little Brother,” warns Pinkie.
“I can handle the cold, don’t you worry,” Blue assures. Rolling his eyes at Blue, Big Red flashes us a helpless look. Clyde has a check list, and is speaking aloud as he organizes Blue’s paperwork: “proof of Blue’s ISO microchip; valid rabies and feline infectious disease vaccination records; written proof of tick and deworming treatment; recent blood tests; international veterinarian health certification; 400 Rubles.” I was surprised that Clyde had to shell out 400 Rubles for Blue to be admitted into the Russian Federation. But at least the Russian Federation did not impose quarantine like many other countries.
Finally, Clyde tells Blue to “say your goodbyes,” beckoning him to enter the travel carrier. “We need to leave in order to make all of our connections on time”.
Hence, Blue hugs me and Pinkie. I normally wouldn’t accept a hug from Blue, because he is always so rough, but seeing as this may be the last time I see or hear from him, I hug him back. “Keep in touch,” I tell him. Pinkie spends a little more time saying good bye. As I explained before, they are very close. His final words to Blue are “You’ll be back,” to which Blue says nothing.
As well, once Blue is secured in the cat cab by Big Red, an electronic receiver device is given to me by Clyde. He has designed it as a human. He instructs Pinkie and I on how to use it. Basically it is like a remote control transmitting device that we can use to watch his and Blue’s adventure through the floor-to-ceiling bay window, which will be transformed into an all-in-one flat-panel satellite television. I think this leading-edge technology is trés cool! Had Clyde been all human instead of a hybrid, he would’ve been considered a genius and would have been wealthy and famous beyond his dreams.
Subsequently, Clyde is waiting on the bus stop bench outside our house with Blue patiently sitting in his cat cab, after having said goodbye to Big Red. The bus finally comes; they board it and off they go. Pinkie quickly grabs the wireless remote from me and works on its configuration. After a few false starts and sparks with the controls, our bay window is magically transformed into a flat-screen TV, where we can watch Blue and Clyde as if they are actors in a movie, while we nibble on crunchy beef-flavored biscuit type snacks.
On the one hand, Pinkie notes that “Blue looks resolute, like a warrior kitty on a mission.”
On the other hand, I observe that “He is behaving like a fraidy-cat”.
“Well, maybe once he gets certain ideas out of his system he’ll be fine” says Pinkie.
Blue is naïve and stubborn that’s for sure. At this point it is too early to say whether or not he will learn anything from this new experience. I have never been outside of the United States myself, so I am very curious to vicariously travel with Blue, whose bravery has gained my respect.
Consequently, as this is a long weekend in the United States in honor of President’s day, our owners, the Master and Lady Hun are away vacationing in Martha’s Vineyard, so we have the house to ourselves. With the self-cleaning litter boxes, automatic feeders and water fountains clean and well-supplied, we have the freedom to watch Blue and Clyde through the bay window, now converted into a flat-screen TV without distraction.
After watching Clyde and Blue transfer to the AirTrain at the main subway station; get to the airport; then board the airplane to Moscow; we take our cat naps.
Eventually, after flying 4680 miles, Clyde and Blue finally arrive in Moscow. Pinkie and I awake from our dreamy slumber at the window seat, do our morning yoga stretches, have our breakfast and return to the bay window where we excitedly wait for Blue’s reaction as we watch Clyde disembark and walk to the passenger terminal where he will collect Blue. Then, Clyde will move onto the government veterinarian area where pets like Blue, are held until paperwork is presented and stamped. Thus, Clyde could finally reunite with Blue after not seeing him for 9 hours and 20 minutes. He was carrying a sign that said Yuri and Valeria. He had gone to great lengths to ensure Blue realized his dream. Yuri and Valeria were the English-speaking Russian Veterinarians Clyde had made arrangements with, providing them with power of attorney. This authorization required the notarization of a Russian Official. Yuri and Valeria were also there to help Clyde get Blue an international pet passport and meet other requirements to help him handle customs
After all the luggage has been collected, we watch as Clyde remains alone, waiting with a frown etched permanently on his forehead. “He looks worried,” Pinkie says to me for which I agree. Suddenly, we see a threesome appear, walking towards Clyde, who looks in their direction with instant relief. They introduce themselves as Yuri and Valeria along with a Russian notary and shake hands, engaging in small talk. They request the documents from Clyde and ask “We waited for Blue, do you have him?” Clyde shakes his head, stating “I have been waiting here for over half an hour and have not seen any sign of him; I was beginning to think that you were temporarily boarding him until we met”. Yuri and Valeria shake their heads. Valeria who speaks English fluently asked Clyde “did you inform the airline in America that you were shipping your pet to Moscow as accompanied luggage or excess baggage?”
Clyde said yes, and Valeria and Yuri tell him to wait while they look into the issue. Clyde sits with the Russian Notary, who asks him if he wants a cup of tea or coffee to which Clyde says “No thank you”. After an hour, Valeria returns to ask Clyde if he has an Air Way Bill. He tells her he doesn’t. Yuri also comes back to the baggage terminal to tell Clyde that Blue had been mistakenly shipped as cargo and wonders again if Clyde has an AirWay Bill, to which Clyde responds that he doesn’t. Yuri speaks with Valeria, who tells Clyde that Blue was shipped as cargo to Siberia, but that they will help Clyde to locate him and handle the customs, which may take a lot of time. So, they will need to contact Clyde by the next morning as to their progress with Blue’s whereabouts.
When Clyde checks into his hotel room he begins to examine the map of Siberia.
The television screen suddenly goes off and on and then static occurs. “What’s happening?” I asked Pinkie. “I am trying to see if there’s a way for us to find Blue on this thing,” Pinkie says fidgeting with the remote control. After a while the screen clears and we see Blue sitting in his cab on a cold concrete corner in the dark. His eyes are glowing with his trademark stare. We hear meowing from another cat and some barking as well. There is another cat’s eyes glowing in the dark. We see this kitty craftily unlock Blue’s carrier and release him. Yet, Blue remains in his carrier. “привет, мой друг (Greetings, my friend), my name is Tuz, what’s yours? The Russian cat asks in Russianglish (Russian mixed with English). “My name is Blue” answers Blue reluctantly. He is probably wondering where Clyde is. “He looks hungry and tiered,” says Pinkie sadly, “I’m not sure if this is what he expected upon arriving in Russia.”
“What brings you to Russia? Blue doesn’t respond so Tuz repeats the question until Blue answers.
“I wanted to join the…. to see Moscow,” Blue, lies. Probably so Tuz wouldn’t laugh like I did. Tuz doesn’t push and accepts Blue’s answer.
“Well, then what are you sitting around for? Follow me—let’s go!” Tuz shouts with glee.
Blue slowly comes out of his cage and follows Tuz out of the airport with trepidation. When the two cats are illuminated by the light, we see that Tuz is missing part of his leg, yet being three-legged doesn’t seem to be an obstacle for him. “Narrowly escaped death via reckless driver” Tuz winks at Blue with a hoarse chuckle.
When they get outside of the airport, Blue stops to take a deep breath which appears as thick smoke in the cold air and looks around. “Wow, Moscow is beautiful, but looks different than I imagined” he says this more to himself than to Tuz. “My friend, this isn’t Moscow.” Blue looks at Tuz with shock, “Then…where are we?” he asks nervously. “We’re at Tolmochevo Airport near Russia’s Siberia City of Novosibirsk—where we are heading right now”.
“What? How is that I am not in Moscow?” protests Blue in a panic-struck voice. “Relax, the airline must have messed up, I see it all the time,” said Tuz. “My owner traveled with me to America and was also supposed to be in Moscow, so don’t worry; we will go back together, мой друг.” Tuz asks Blue “are you hungry and thirsty?” Blue eagerly nods.
Accordingly, Tuz takes Blue to Club Truba where the Бармен gives them a little fish soup with a trace of vodka for which they happily lap to the sweet sounds of Russian folk music.
Next, Blue follows Tuz without question He seems more relaxed and happy, but at some point begins to freeze. Tuz removes a Ushanka from his backpack. “Put this on,” he commands Blue who immediately obeys. As the moon rises with the night fall, Blue and Tuz detect several mixed breeds of Exotic and Oriental felines, eyeing them from apartment vestibules and loudly mewing. “Russia certainly has some of the most beautiful koškas in the world” Blue says. Tuz agrees heartily saying “do you have any Кошачья мята to offer them?” Blue shakes his head in disappointment. Tuz chuckles,
Soon, the effects of the fish soup wears off and Blue’s stomach begins grumbling and he is feeling extremely cold, especially his frost-bitten paw pads and nose leather, which are covered in frost. He is visibly shivering and his teeth are chattering uncontrollably. He asks “how much further, Tuz? I am so cold, tired and hungry…I don’t think I can go on”.
Afterward, they arrive at an apartment building and Tuz scratches at the door, mewing loudly, inspiring Blue to do the same. A youthful looking woman looks out from a pulled curtain. Shortly, she opens the door and Tuz goes inside with Blue following close behind. Pinkie and I see that there are several cats of various shapes, sizes, and colors already in the area the Blue and Tuz are invited to enter, but these cats don’t seem especially threatened by Blue or Tuz. The woman leaves the room and returns with a huge bin of dry cat food. The sound stirs cats from out of their hiding places that begin meowing for food, which she pours in various large bowls on the floor. Blue and Tuz are competing for a spot to get their share of the food. I looked at Pinkie in disbelief and say, “Oh my goodness, look at all those cats, there must be over 100!”
Consequently, Pinkie says “I’ve never seen anything like it”. Blue and Tuz are busy eating as fast as they can. “Where’s the caviar, pheasant eggs and cream?’ Blue asks Tuz, who shouts back “Where’s your imagination?”
Immediately after the meal, the cats that recognized Tuz began introducing themselves to Blue. They share their life stories of living in Russia with Blue who finds their stories intriguing enough to share his own story. But, Tuz is the most fascinating story teller. Apparently, he once had an owner as he originally had said, but no one ever came to claim him and he was transported to an animal control center from where he escaped certain extermination. He frequently returna to the airport looking for cats from other parts of the world that have been shipped as cargo, ending up in the wrong place. That way, he can introduce the misdirected cats to an exciting Russian experience they might otherwise not have and help them to survive.
Finally, the woman comes to Blue, pets him vigorously and says “Welcome Blue, my name is Nina, did you enjoy the caviar?” Blue looks into her eyes. “You can answer, don’t be afraid, I speak your language” says Nina. Blue looks at all the cats that are encouraging him and says “Beluga caviar is my favorite, thank you Nina, it was exquisite.” Nina smiles, “I’m glad. Thank you for trusting me. I hear and understand you. I was listening to your story, Blue. It’s hard to be a cat sometimes, isn’t it...?"
Nina rubbed Blue's ears affectionately. "Why did you come to Russia, what do you really want? Is there something I can help you with?” Blue looks down and sadly says “do you solemnly swear and cross your heart that you won’t laugh?” Nina promises, saying “anyone who laughs at you from inside my home will be out again in the cold. And there is nothing funny about that”. All the cats nod quietly and look at Blue respectfully, who plaintively cries, “I want to join the Moscow cat circus…it’s my dream”. She strokes Blue’s neck. “Let’s take you to Moscow; I am sure your master is worried…but first—your audition.
In brief, Blue impresses the Cat Circus so much that he is hired as a guest performer for that evening’s sold-out performance.
Arriving with Nina to the airport where Yuri and Valeria are waiting with Clyde, Blue is on top of the world. Upon seeing Blue, Clyde runs to greet Nina and thank her. She looks at him knowingly. In the meantime, Tuz says goodbye to Blue, and gives him his contact information so they can remain in touch. Clyde looks at Blue, exclaiming “It’s time to see Moscow, are you ready for an adventure?