Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Do you want people who believe in an after-life servicing your plane?

In recent years, in response to post-September 11th flying fears and because we’ve traveled to more exotic countries, I've studied the ground crews servicing planes we’re on, concerned not only about their training, but their mind-sets and religious beliefs. As we were about to take off from airports in Cambodia and Thailand, I was unnerved to realize that our lives were in the hands of people who believe in an after-life. If you're convinced you're coming back, you might be a lot less fastidious about safety. Were they entrusting us to some golden Buddha?

My concerns seemed unfounded, laughable even, until this month when officials at Nepal's state-run sacrificed two goats to appease Akash Bhairab, the Hindu sky god, following technical problems with one of its two Boeing 757 aircrafts. The goats were sacrificed in front of the troublesome aircraft at Nepal's international airport in Kathmandu in accordance with Hindu traditions.

"The snag in the plane has now been fixed and the aircraft has resumed its flights," a senior airline official announced, without explaining what the problem had been. It's common in Nepal to sacrifice animals to appease different Hindu deities.

This leaves me in a quandry. Should I be rethinking my own convictions? I may do an experiment next time I have a computer problem. Instead of calling Tech Support, I'll try sacrificing a goat. If it works, I'll book a trip to Nepal.