Tuesday, March 19, 2013
Natasha 1981-82-Part I
It all began when I stepped out of the Chaika limousine in front of the National Hotel, just steps away from Red Square. It was November, 1981 about 6 PM, dark and cold. Two attractive women were walking by and on the spur of the moment, I tipped my western cowboy hat to them, and one of the women smiled in amusement, flashing flirtatious eyes, I was quick to note.
Once again I was with three other RCA men.
After getting settled in our hotel and having dinner together, the other three men retired to their rooms seeking jet lag relief. I wanted to stay awake as long as possible until it was local bedtime. This was my second trip to Moscow and we stayed the first time at the Intourist Hotel just around the corner from the National Hotel. I knew there was a ballroom there where a live combo played making dancing available to vodka and champagne drinking patrons.
So I took the short walk around the corner leaving my winter coat behind. I climbed the stairs to the second floor and entered the ballroom. Scanning the room, to my delight, I spied the woman who rewarded my hat tip with a smile and she was sitting at a table with a couple empty seats. I approach her table with a reasonable amount of confidence and asked her to dance. Fortunately she spoke a bit of English. After the dance I escorted her back to the table and sat down. She spoke to me mostly with her eyes and I could tell she was interested. I informed her that my visit to Moscow was short but I was due to come back to Moscow soon. She gave me her phone number and I promised I would call her upon my return. Her name was Natasha or Natalie, or Natalya all of which are appropriate to use depending on the context.
I am sure we talked more but we did dance at least a couple of more times before I begged off and I needed to find my bed and get some sleep ready for tomorrow’s meeting.
As it turned out, plans were made for me to arrive before the end of the year due to some tax advantages that were available should I be a resident for an entire year. I left for my permanent assignment on December 29th from Lancaster, PA, arrived in Frankfort, at 7:30 AM on the 30th, and caught my plane to Moscow, arriving at 6:15 PM. After waiting 45 minutes for my luggage to arrive, I cleared customs and was met by a driver who took me to the largest hotel in the world at the time, the Rossiya Hotel, just off Red Square where my greeting party helped check me into one of the 3200 rooms.
The next morning I called Natasha and we arranged to meet in at 3 PM in front of the Intourist Hotel. She walked up wearing a beautiful fur hat and a coat whose trim matched her hat and mid-calf boots, a picture of elegance. After we met we tried to find a restaurant to sit and chat but they were all closed because it was New Year’s Eve day. We trekked around the streets adjoining Red Square, for about 40 minutes before finally finding a small buffet. We were getting along just fine and we wanted to be together that evening. Natasha cancelled her plans, called a friend and he or she arranged to cram a small table at the edge of the ballroom at the Intourist where we celebrated the New Year. By the time midnight came around, most people were loosened up with champagne and vodka and the place was rocking and true to form, the music turned to Russian gypsy music and good feelings were expressed for all comrades celebrating.
We caught a cab to Natasha’s building, took the elevator up and entered her flat. Her place consisted of one room with a small Pullman kitchen and bathroom. Off in one corner was her single sized bed and we soon were sharing the intimacy of our bodies. We woke about 11 AM and we took a short bus ride to a park next to the Metro station. The beautiful park was called the Exhibition of Economic Achievement with a large futuristic obelisk as its center piece. We had lunch there and later we went to a “camping hotel” where I met her musician cousin who was part of a rock band.
I was to leave Moscow on the night of the 4th taking an overnight train ride to Voronezh. During the interval Natasha and I were together most the time enjoying each other in every way possible. The night of the 2nd she took me by way of the Metro, to the newest hotel and hot spot in Moscow, called the Mezdurodskaya. It was quite modern, designed and built by a Swedish architect, with escalators, a high ceiling atrium, and indoor glass elevators. Even by today’s standards it would be an excellent place to stay. We were entertained with a gypsy floor show and according to my notes, but I have no memory of it, probably because my mind was filled with what was happening to me. And on the 3rd, the evening was spent at the Suyez with another dramatic floor show followed with dancing.
On Monday January 4th, Natasha got off work to meet me at 2 for lunch at the Baku restaurant on Gorky Street. We went back to her flat and decided we would try to be together whenever possible. We were two lovers, well matched intellectually and physically and full of adventure. Natasha was intoxicating, beautiful and oh so classy. The fact that the government would frown with our budding relationship, only made it more exciting.
I left for Voronezh that evening.
During long overnight train ride, my mind was filled with whirlwind of feelings and thoughts about my experiences during the last few days. Was Natasha a KGB agent who job was to compromise foreigners? Was her only intent to trap a foreign man into marrying her and providing a path to the West? How much could I trust her? And do I really want to pursue this exciting creature? I had time to be wary. Trust had to be earned.
How I feel when I am someone’s presence has always been a guideline to me. But now I was separated from her and faced with new challenges in Voronezh and I needed to deal with them first and foremost.
I was able to phone her and talk briefly wondering who might be listening in on our conversations. As it turned out the plant in Voronezh was mostly an assembly plant and some of the critical parts were to be made in Vilnius, Lithuania and in Moscow. So toward the end of January I returned to Moscow to shepherd a technical team from RCA men to get the manufacturing process underway. I was there for two weeks.