It is time to say bye-bye to Russia as I took the morning flight from Tyumen to Moscow. On the way, my eyes fell on a shop in the airport selling Russian Caviar. I bought a box full of Russian Black Caviar. The 500-gram tin cost me 25,000 roubles. I can’t wait to reach home and try it with a slice of toast. Having tucked the tin in my camera bag, I headed for Moscow.
I reached Moscow in the morning. Moscow has three airports: Domodedovo Airport, Sheremetyevo Airport and Vnukovo Airport. My flight to Lviv in Ukraine was from the Vnukovo Airport. I took Turkish Airlines to Istanbul first and then to Lviv. This is because the Russians have cancelled direct flights from Moscow to Ukraine as there is a trade conflict going on between the two countries.
As I sat down waiting for my flight from Moscow to Istanbul, my eyes fell on an African gentleman in his late 30s. Looking at him, I instantly recognised him to be a Nigerian. Having spent 14 years of my youth in Nigeria, I can differentiate people from different African countries. Nigerian men have a distinctively different lip and forehead structure which makes them stand apart from rest of the men in Africa. “Hi, you are from Nigeria,” I said. “Yes, how do you know that for sure?” the man replied. “Well, I spent a lot of time in Africa. My father Arun Tikku was posted there and worked for Vegfru, the company that made tomato paste and orange juice in Nigeria. I have also lived in Lagos, Kano and Gombe when I was a teenager.”
The man was excited to know that “Ah hah. You are well versed with our country. Can you speak the languages as well?” he looked at me with friendly eyes. “Yes, a bit of Yoruba but I have forgotten it now. It has almost been twenty years since I was last in that country.” We got talking about the current state of Nigeria about Boko Haram and the rising corruption in the country. “I am now a travel blogger. I travel the world and have a blog where I write about my experiences. You see, social media is the place to be now. We are all in one globe and due to social media, we can interact and work from any part of the world.” I said excitedly explaining to him about the various features of my site and the intricacies of social media.
I then opened my site in my mobile phone and showed him. “Well, I am Wilson Immanuel. I am a professor in Criminology. I teach and study crime and its various facets at the Ibadan University.” Bang! It was as if a light bulb lit up within me. I started pouring my heart out to him and told him about the brutal murder of my father by the serial killer Vijay Palande and how I coped with the brutal tragedy in my life. I then took him through the entire episode on the internet. “Well, Anuj, I am shocked to hear this. I do study serial killers but my focus has been on ritual killing as this is very common in Nigeria. Here, people kill others as part of human sacrifice to please the Gods or to sell the body parts to other people. Ritual killing is done by shamans and people well versed in the art of voodoo.” I asked him to read the book ‘Front Page Murders’ that is based on my father’s murder as it would help him understand serial killers better. “You know Immanuel, I visited a shaman in Zambia and asked him to perform voodoo so that the spirits would destroy my father’s killers. But he asked me for 5,000 dollars to perform a camel sacrifice to which I duly declined. Yes, I did see the wooden doll talk though. That was the only piece of voodoo that I saw.”
Wilson was fascinated by my story “Man, you can write a great book on your life when you are through doing all this. I will keep in touch with you and buy the book that you have suggested. All the best!” It was time to board the Turkish Airlines flight to Istanbul and with a big wave, I said goodbye to my African friend who followed me into the flight. I guess my journey ‘Tikku’s Travelthon’ is all about these unexpected encounters with strangers who I befriend and find some deep connection with. I felt light and slept peacefully all through the flight.