Live always at the edge of poetic possibilty, even in the face of severe prose. - Walter Bruggemann

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Ya gotta love Nepal

Yesterday Reuters News Service reported from Kathmandu, Nepal a story about Nepal Airlines. Seems that they were having some trouble with one of their planes so they sacrificed two goats to the Hindu sky god, Akash Bhairab. It worked. The plane was on its way after the smoke cleared. How come the FAA doesn't come up with something like? Except for the life of two goats, it seems to me like a simple way of fixing a problem. That's faith, isn't it?

Sacrificed goats were not my experience. I flew in and out of Kathmandu in January but no goats were sacrificed to get my rear in the air. Well, at least, not that I know of. Could'a been, but I saw no evidence of smoke or a pyre or goat hairs in the air. I have to admit though that Nepal is not one of the easiest places to get in and out of. When I arrived in Kathmandu we deplaned onto the tarmac and were directed onto a smelly, hot tram that drove us to the terminal. Not knowing the language or the culture I just followed along hoping that I'd eventually end up where I needed to be. I found myself in a dark, unattractive terminal where upon I was directed to stand behind the yellow line by the immigration officer. These guys were serious. There was no welcome mat, nothing. So I didn't dare stick even a toe over the line and stood very quietly and still.

Once I was able to pass over the yellow line, there was a lot of talking and looking at my passport and looking at me. What they were talking about??? I have no clue. Finally the man wanted to see my airline ticket because he wanted to make sure that I was leaving Nepal. Some welcome mat that was! Finally he stamped my passport with a huge three day visa, had signed it and motioned me on. And so my visit to Nepal began.

I found Nepal to be a beautiful land. The people outside of the immigration office were friendly and warm. I was greeted at my hotel with a shawl, a Buddhist sign of hospitality. You often see Buddha's around Kathmandu with a shawl draped around their shoulders.

What I came to appreciate the most is the devotion and love of the people for their religious beliefs. In Nepal Buddhism and Hinduism often converge in the tiniest nooks and crannies. God's (with a small g) of every variety and purpose were poised each day to receive sacrifices from passersby. And they did. Marigolds, candles, fresh fruit, coconuts, all different kinds of sacrificial love was layed at the foot of the gods. As a lover of God (with a capital G) I realized that faith comes in many different forms and that the divine speaks to people and is made manifest to people in ways that we cannot always comprehend. That is the mysterious and redemptive nature of God and grace.

We here in the western world could learn a few things from the Nepalese gentle people. We might have the technical knowledge as to fix a jet but without faith and a humbling of oneself before God we might not fully appreciate nor reach our human potential. Killing a goat to appease the gods seems archaic and certainly animal rights advocates would detest this. But sacrifice itself is not a bad thing. We don't sacrifice so that we can get our way...I hope. We sacrifice because it has all the potential to show God (as if God doesn't already know) our human foibles and dependency. It cleanses and brings us back to the basics once again. Yeah, who doesn't want to keep God happy?

Getting out of Nepal was an equally humbling moment. I had already gone through security, which by modern standards was also archaic. They checked every little thing in my carry on and my purse. I was frisked from head to toe. After waiting in the terminal, one kind flight attendant let me know when it was time to board. I got on that smelly, hot and crowded tram and got to the plane. But, before anyone could board we had to go through another security check. Yep, they went through all my things once again. I was frisked up and down again. What's with that??

But me and the security guard got a little chuckle, well I did. As he was examining all my belongings he opened a small, covered, straw container that I had bought off of a street vendor in India. Much to his surprise, when he took the top off, a fake boa's head jumped out at him. The guard jumped back, cracked a smile, shook his head and said something to me in Nepalese. I think he enjoyed the joke. He put the top back on and off I went flying the blue skies of Nepal.


Marilyn said...

Hi Suz--I really identified with this one. I took Mom to the Sac airport today for her return to Denver after 3 months, via Frontier Airlines. We have always been able to go with her to the gates on whatever airline we are flying. Today, however, they told me I could not go since she had a skycap taking her. I said," She is 93 years old, she has a two hour wait, PLEASE let me go with her--"United" always lets me. So, the desk clerk goes and checks and reluctantly issues me a gate pass, but it came with a "price tag." I was subjected to "extra screening"--God only knows why. I had no baggage of any kind, only my wallet, cellphone, and car keys--I'm sure I have a terrorist profile. However, through it all, I did not complain, smiled and was gracious to all the "poor smucks" who have to process us all, and realized how much I DETEST the "muslim extremists" who have brought us to this point. Have they not achieved a "victory" just in that, and how our stock market drops at the very mention of UBL's name? I pray we persevere, and that peace can come to our world. You are brave to be entering that Middle East world--I pray you will be safe! Love, Mar

Suzanne said...

Thanks for your thoughts. Flying is not fun anymore, not sure it ever was, but even more so now. It is hard to tell who's victory
this will all be. Hopefully it will soon be a co-existant world where peace is the victor. Suz