Thursday, March 4, 2010

Airport traffic

My cousin Paul is a lawyer who specializes in a very new and unusual area: copyright protection law. There are not nearly as many barriers to entry into the law career in Russia as there are in the US: it's a one university degree thing, and one can start practicing at 20 or 22, while still in school. My cousin is not yet 30, but he's worked in the legal departments of several different companies in St. Petersburg and in Moscow. About two years ago he started working for the St. Petersburg offices of a Swedish law firm. This fall he applied and was accepted into an masters' degree program in copyright law in Stockholm university, so that now he's learning everything about the way copyright laws work in the European Union (very differently from the way they work in the US, sometimes completely conflicting in the basics).

The masters' program is targeted specifically for working professionals. The seminars take place on weekends, every other weekend. The bulk of the work comes from independent research and writing assignments, group projects in assembling and delivering presentations. Many of the students reside in Stockholm for the duration, but my cousin is choosing to combine his education with continuing his practice back in St. Petersburg. This means that every two weeks he has to fly to Stockholm and back, using the cheapest most direct flights. Luckily, prices for airfare in Europe are very reasonable; nevertheless, his itinerary is rather strenuous. He flies out of St. Petersburg airport on Thursday nights and travels to Riga, Latvia, where he spends the night. In the morning he takes a direct flight to Stockholm, and then comes back to St. Petersburg on Sunday evenings. Every time he brings back stories of adventures, school and travel related. One of the recurrent thrills of the trip is that the airplane that takes him to Riga is a 40-seat propeller powered one. The noises that it makes are apparently vastly different from the jet engine noises and it takes time until one grows comfortable hearing them at take off.

So yesterday was another school weekend Thursday night, and cousin Paul was off to Riga. His propellers were powered up and ready to go at around 9:40 pm -- and at the same time, Dave's plane from Helsinki was going in for landing. Things came together well last night, and the timing was so perfect that my friends Johnnie and Tanya and I were able to see off cousin Paul and meet Dave with just enough time in between to drive to the nearest mall for a sushi supper. Everything went off without a hitch even despite the fact that earlier in the day it snowed heavily. In the evening, the skies were clear and the airport traffic running ahead of schedule. So much so that Dave reports leaving Helsinki at least half an hour late and he still arrived to St. Petersburg on time. The only thing we missed (getting too enthusiastic about sushi) was seeing the wings of cousin Paul's propeller plane as it took off.

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