Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Moscow Domodedovo - 48 hours after the blast !

Sitting in the airport lounge, just 48 hours after the devastating and deadly blast that rocked Moscow Domodedovo airport, things are eerily quiet!

I landed 3 days ago, exactly 24 hours before the blast. It's a regular trip for me and I pass through the arrivals hall practically every month. So when I heard the news of this horrific bomb attack, I was stunned. Stunned that it happened exactly in between a 3 day trip of mine and stunned that it happened in a place I am so familiar with.

It is not altogether shocking this happened, and to be fair, it could have happened anywhere in the world. The number of crowded places there are in every busy city around the world that do not have any security becomes frightening when an example like this is set.

Moscow was of course a target because of the politics between the Russian government and the regions in the Caucuses, but I put these events down each time to sick individuals (or groups). What can be gained by killing random innocent civilians? No sympathy is gained and no cause furthered.

I had dinner last night with some people from my Moscow office and I asked them there opinion of these events. The answers were a mix of anger and acceptance.

Anger ... partly to the government and security forces, but far more towards the criminals who commit such acts, and acceptance that this is now something Muscovites have to live with. Inevitability that such events are a part of life"! I understand this point, having grown up in London during the peak of the IRA London bombings. It is sad to say that one can become almost desensitised to such occurrences.

So today I left the office to take my flight back home. Of course I was apprehensive. While not believing that lightening strikes twice, the bomb 2 days ago was so prominent, so close and so lethal that caution had to be at the front of my mind.

Another reason for apprehension was the simple practicality of what I would face upon my arrival at Domodedovo. I imagined lines of people standing outside the airport in the -15 degree cold, all being thoroughly searched before entering the airport. I imagined the aggressive police harassing all "foreign looking" people for documents, and imagined total chaos in general with flight delays due to increased security and the bureaucracy that goes along with that...

... but there was none of this !

Pulling up in the car outside, the airport looked deserted. Not many cars at all and no change in allowing them to stop freely immediately in front of the terminal.

Entering the terminal, there were indeed body and baggage scanners set up, but well inside the terminal to allow people in from the harsh winter while they waited in line. Notably, while they waited in line patiently and orderly. There was a subdued silence and an acceptance that this had to be done, and I was pleased to see it being done efficiently, politely and the lines moved along smoothly and swiftly.

Once inside, it was business as usual, but uncharacteristically quiet. I would guess it was 30% as busy as usual, and other than this, you couldn’t imagine that this facility had been rocked by 7kg's of TNT 48 hours earlier ... Well done to Domodedovo for not letting these fundamentalists bring the airport to a standstill!

Check in was fast, no additional checks, and the same with passport control and passenger security. There was extra diligence in ensuring all belts and shoes came off, and the odd additional pat down after the body scanner, but that was it. It was actually nothing more than regular US based travellers face with air travel as a routine!

So now I'm in the lounge with 2 hours to kill, having allowed plenty of time in anticipation of the chaos. I'm not disappointed, but somewhat disheartened. At the callousness and cowardice of this terrorist act and those that carried it out, and that we have to live in a world and society with an undue amount of caution. This is nothing new, but we all get on with our lives and routines and the bad memories fade away and we just accept things the way they are ... until a painful reminder like this comes along and puts it all top of mind again.


  1. Many thanks for the insight Sunil, agree totally with your sentiments, see you soon... and regards, John B