Ethiopian Music, soft, haunting and unforgettable
On the fourth day morning the good news that we have been anxiously waiting for, arrived in the form of the representative from The Ministry of Education. He told that our flight was on the next day. We were elated At the same time, we were sad as we would be missing the other sixty eight fellow Indians who travelled with us from Mumbai.
The next day morning, the ten of us who had to fly to Bahirdar were taken to the airport. We boarded a smaller fifty seater plane. There was no beautiful air hostess on the plane. Instead we had a hefty, strong and a silent air steward. The air steward gave us a customary nod, served us some cake and coke and went off, never to be seen for the entire flight duration of one hour!
As we were waiting for the flight to take off, our ears were filled with the traditional Ethiopian music. Ethiopian music is very lyrical and has that soft soothing touch that would mentally relax frayed nerves. Ethiopian Music when played in its rawest form in the rustically beautiful Ethiopian country side back drop is an experience that has no parallels anywhere in the world.
|Small planes for Internal Travel|
Later we were told that whom we thought was a steward was not an air steward! He was an air marshal or a security Officer! There was an attempt to kidnap an Ethiopian plane on 9th June 2002 just six months before and the Ethiopian airlines hit upon an innovative idea. They hit two birds with one stone. They appointed air marshals and at the same time took off the air hostesses. This would not only mean less pay out as salaries but also meant that the weight of the air craft would be optimal.
One caution with air travel in Ethiopia. It is always better to be in an airport much ahead in time. Ethiopian airlines is known to take off ahead of scheduled time if all the passengers arrive and board the plane. That would ensure time saved for each flight and that could mean that they schedule an extra flight and get extra revenue. Smart thinking Ethiopian airlines!
Usually the air-hostesses are the ones who are friendly and chat with the passengers. The pilots are silent and talk only if it is absolutely necessary. They would talk in a dry terse clipped tone. They bark into the microphones that have a strong static “Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to ……… airlines. Right now we are at 30,000 feet from the mean sea level. We should be landing at our destination in 55 minutes”. Regretting their eloquence, they would lapse into silence, never to be heard again. Some of them would honour us by mumbling “we have reached the destination and we at ………….. airlines thank you for your patronage and hope that you will give us a chance to serve you again” He would end his speech grudgingly. Clearly communicating with the travellers is not their cup of coffee!
|Scene from Air!|
|Tiss Abay Water Falls|
The scene was typical of the movie ‘Gods must be crazy’. There was skeletal staff and ours was the only flight, may be for the day!
|Bahirdar Country Side|
|Omnipresent Shoe shine boys|