It has almost become a tradition for me that the most interesting memories come when I run around the football field in the morning. The last memory was of football, pilot and plane.
But in recent running, I recalled again the football team partner, the plane and somehow the thread lead me to another. And it's strangely connected to coffee in my memory. Although… Why be surprised here? After all, everything in the world is connected to coffee… :)
Sometime in 2005 or 2006, I met Peter Deprez, Belgian barista champion,
and his brother Bart.
Now Bart is widely known among "coffee" people, because for several recent years he is the MC of the World Barista Championships. One day in 2009, at a coffee show in Cologne, we chatted with them and they invited me to visit their small coffee factory, where they also set up a coffee museum. When I was told the name of the city where they live, I couldn't remember it from the first time. It was called Kortrijk. It is a small town near the border of Belgium and France, closer the English Channel. Shortly after the exhibition, I went there. Both their factory and museum are really cool.
All this was started by their father, and the brothers continue this project.
There's just an huge amount (probably thousands) of all sorts of coffee stuff, in wide range,
from ancient roasting machines to stickers on coffee bags.
So, I came to Kortrijk, met Bart, had a tour at the museum and the factory.
We had some coffee, and I went on.
Well, about coffee - yes, you may say. And why is the plane here? Well, so far for nothing. But then, as they say - "years have gone " And then somehow in 2015 or 2016 at the book flea market near Rymarska (a street in Kharkiv, where is the 1-st Kofein coffeeshop) I met some old man. He is a former resident of Odessa, and, as I also lived there for a while, so we met on the basis of the Odessa language dialect. He is very interesting man. He left Odessa at a young age, in the early 1970s, when he graduated from university and as soon as Jewish emigration from the USSR began. He lived for a long time in Belgium, in France, then moved to Israel. And now he married with a lady from Kharkiv and lives in Kharkiv or Israel. He knows a dozen languages, including Russian, Hebrew, Belgian (Dutch), French, German - at the level of perfection. He also is fluent in English, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, and Ukrainian. All his life he worked as an interpreter and guide in tourism industry. Roughly speaking, he guided groups of tourists around the world and carried excursions, negotiations, etc. for them. Over the years, he has visited countless countries and cities. And while sitting with him over a cup of coffee at the Kofein coffee shop, I once asked him where he had lived for the longest time. And it turned out (here is some circus style "drumbeat") that for the longest time, something like 20 years, he lived in… in the same Kortrijk, in Belgium, where I was in 2009, visiting the Deprez brothers. And then, talking about life there, he said that he was in Kortrijk just at the time when, as he said "the same Soviet plane crashed there." I asked what kind of "plane"? And it turned out that the plane was absolutely "sovietik". Both materially and in the spirit of total absurdity, on the verge, and even beyond core “sovietik” absurdity in its perfect embodiment.
It was the summer of 1989. The plane, a MiG-23 fighter, took off from a Soviet military airfield somewhere in Poland. Suddenly the engine of the plane broke down and the plane started to fall. The pilot could not do anything and ejected. And the plane was about to fall to the ground, but did not fall. Something in the engine again "jammed" and instead of falling the plane flew straight and straight, "where the eyes look", that is, as they say the military "to some fu..n mother." And so It flew there for about 900 km. It crossed the Poland, Germany, Holland, Belgium, almost reached the English Channel and fell near Kortrijk, destroying someone's house and killed a boy.
I'd never heard of it. Well, then in 1989 I lived in Siberia, and there is a "wilderness", the news didn't reach there. But anyway, in all such cases in the USSR there was the “Top Secret” label, no info, no press, no news in media. All was covered. But, In general (as soviet people like to emphasis), Soviet technology was reliable. Just sometimes "crooked woodpeckers" got the technics to their hands… And an evil unfortunate fate of course...
According to Wikipedia: "The reason for the engine failure was not established, although the investigation revealed that it has been repaired five times in the last year."
So, the Deprez coffee brothers, and all people of Kortrijk, were very lucky then. Try to think, why they have such good coffee there in Kortrijk? Because (I'm sure) every resident of Kortrijk after the crash of this plane clearly understood that life is too short to drink bad coffee ;)