Original post: 15 December 2009
Latest update: 16 December 2009
After entering the local MVD (Motor Vehicle Department) office on Tuesday, December 15, to renew my commercial bus driving licence and taking a queue number to join those waiting along the east windowed wall, I noticed a vacant seat next to a young man with a Cal Berkeley jacket on. I sat next to him saying, "It would seem you are a Berkeley man". He smiled and nodded, to which I made him aware that I had graduated from Cal in June 1960. This sparked some animated exchanges, during which I noticed a very slight accent. "Do you speak Russian?" I asked in Russian. "Of course", he answered in Russian and then informed me he was from Siberia, working on a joint scientific experiment at the National Laboratories here in Los Alamos and in Berkeley..
Delightful encounter! Nevertheless, I couldn't help wondering if the corresponding letters of the Motor Vehicle Department rendered in Russian did not have an eerie connotation. The letters "MVD" in Soviet Russia stood for "Ministry of Internal Affairs", which was a department of the Soviet secret police....
Because of the slowness of the Los Alamos MVD process, he gave me his lower numbered ticket and took mine, since he had a meeting he was about to be late for, and left. Before he left we exchanged contact information with the promise that we would meet again. I invited him to examine this blog and comment in Russian, if that was more comfortable, and I would write in English. I hope he writes...