Come you hack to Mandalay,
Where the old Flotilla lay:
Can't you 'ear their paddles chunkin'
from Rangoon to Mandalay?
Not anymore, you can't. The side-wheel riverboats that Rudyard Kipling wrote about in the far-off days of the Empire are disappearing fast. At least a third of the ancient riverboats of Rangoon's nationalized Irrawaddy Flotilla Co. is laid up for lack of parts. The rest operate with dismaying irregularity. Like just about everything else in Burma, they have suffered in the grip of economic and political paralysis that strongman Ne Win calls "the Burmese...