Akash Bhairab-- the 2 boys are fine; the 2 goats... not so much
We've flown-- reluctantly-- on Royal Air Nepal in the past. And we're about to again-- although the name has been changed, with the abolition of the monarchy to Nepal Airlines. Roland panics; I'm fatalistic. There hasn't been a fatal crash in a decade. But this morning he sent me some old news reports. The one he was the most worked up over had to do with the head honcho at the airline being jailed for corruption. The only part that surprised me is that he was jailed. In Asia you really have to assume that everyone is corrupt-- and pray that its under control and that, for example, he isn't pocketing the money that's supposed to go for engineer maintenance.
I was more interested in live goat sacrifice to Akash Bhairab, the Hindu god of sky protection.
Officials at Nepal Airlines (formerly known as Royal Nepal Airlines), Nepal’s state-run airline, have sacrificed two goats last week to appease Akash Bhairab, the Hindu sky god (who is actually painted on the fuselage of the aircraft), following a long series of technical problems with one of their Boeing 757 airliners due to which Nepal Airlines has had to suspend some services in recent weeks (it was probably a noticeable part of their international services as it is one of only two mid-haul aircrafts at the airline – the domestic market is served by seven Twin Otters).
The goats were sacrificed in front of the troublesome aircraft on Sunday at Nepal’s international airport in Kathmandu in accordance with Hindu traditions, an official said. They hope that after this sacrifice there will be no more (or not as many) technical problems to be fixed with this particular aircraft, and thus there will be less interruptions to their operations due to aircraft maintenance. ”The snag in the plane has now been fixed and the aircraft has resumed its flights,” said Raju K.C., a senior airline official, without explaining what the problem had been. Local media last week blamed the company’s woes on an electrical fault. The carrier runs international flights to five cities in Asia, and this particular flight arrived to Hong Kong safely after the ritual. It is common in Nepal to sacrifice animals such as goats and buffaloes to appease different Hindu deities.
UPDATE: And If That's Not Enough... How About A Maoist Revolution To Interrupt Your Holiday Plans?
Always worrying, that Roland. This morning he wasn't thinking about airline maintenance but revolutions and sent me this pleasant news from the Times of India about political trouble brewing again in Nepal... as I rush to do all my last minute preparations for the trip.
Last year, as Nepal's Communist-Congress ruling alliance failed to draft a new constitution within the stipulated deadline and sought more time, the main opposition Maoist party paralysed the republic for six days, calling a general strike to pressure the then prime minister Madhav Kumar Nepal into resigning.
One year later, the turbulent republic continued to suffer as cruel history repeated itself. This time, it was the Nepali Congress, booted out of the alliance by new communist PM Jhala Nath Khanal and sitting in opposition that flexed its muscles in the capital on Friday, holding a mass meeting where its top leaders demanded the resignation of Khanal.
"We are here with 10 demands," said Nepali Congress prime ministerial candidate and former deputy prime minister Ram Chandra Poudel. "No party will be allowed to play the politics of arms. The Maoists have to surrender their arms and give up their fighters. Nepal's king Birendra was wiped out along with his family because they made themselves above law. The Maoist army cantonments have also put themselves above law and that is bound to lead to catastrophe."
They may be backing away from the brink... a little. I sure hope so. We'll be there soon. Communists vs Maoists-- so strange.