After over 30 hours of travel on three planes, we landed in Kathmandu to a shockingly quiet airport. Outside, the official taxi prices were doubled because of the bandh (strike), and there were only a few faces lining the window waiting for the arrival of our flight. Finally, Anil Khanal, one of our partners at South Asia Partnerships-Nepal (SAP-Nepal) emerged on his bike through the thin crowd of men offering us taxi rides. Anil explained that the entire city was shut down to protest the Maoists’ alleged abduction, torture and killing of the businessman Ram Hari Shrestha.
We were the last two people stacked into the tourist bus, whose front was covered with a bright blue banner labeling it as such so as to avoid confrontation who those calling the bandh. The eyes of the young police woman at the front of the bus confirmed the severity of the situation as we slowly passed an 8-foot fire fueled by tires in New Baneshwor. Dozens of young men tended the flame.
Arriving without incident, however, the tourist bus made three stops and finally dropped us at the Malla Hotel. We were greeted by the familiar faces of staff at the hotel we have come to call home over the past years, and a number of messages from our friends and colleagues who had planned to met us at the airport and were unable to because of the travel-ban. Unable to leave the hotel, we re-scheduled our afternoon meetings, and set to work finalizing our plans for tomorrow’s workshop with the Inter-Party Women’s Alliance.
To read a news article and see photos of the bandh, go to: http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5jWYd6Uuf_xj-8STdmYDRwjKbUXfw