FROM AN EYE OF AN EAGLE
by Tony Fernandes
Soaring high, but just below the enormous grey clouds preceding the onset of monsoon, I break away from the usual routine with the rest of my siblings. I decide to glide leisurely alone over the mighty green peaks of the
Today I am flying solo on a survey mission of this beautiful land – renowned for its pristine beauty, magnificent churches, temples and houses. Its called ‘
Crossing the shore-line I sharply bank to the left heading south along the coast. Oh, wait a minute, but what do I see? People have gathered down there below on the seashore pulling something which looks like a fishing net. Nearby, adrift is a country craft with an outrigger. And just west of this boat I see a mechanized fishing trawler. Our poor local guys must be having tough and unfair competition. I remember it wasn’t so when I was younger.
Flying further south I proceed on my assignment I see a huge long chunk of steel. This must be what they call a beached ship, I guess, dangerously close to the shore-line. It also appears that this vessel is precariously tilted and is in grave trouble. I see that no one is at hand to help her. She looks like a princess in distress. Bored with monotonous straight flight I sweep into a full circle over her before heading south again. And oh boy! Before I know it a metallic object just whizzes past below me with a deafening sound in its wake. This must be low-flying training aircraft taking off from the navy-controlled airport. Seems it isn’t safe to fly in this area anymore! It scared the hell out of me. What a narrow miss! Frightened out of my wits I swiftly ascend full-throttle to cruising height. I turn back north-west to the hills taking a diagonal route to my starting point. Will explore this area some other day, I assure myself. At this point I hear crackling on my radio receiver: ‘Eagle Star, Eagle Star - Come in Please - Do you read me? Do you read me? Over’. ‘Reading you loud and clear’, I reply. ‘Please keep clear of the tall masts of the microwave repeater antennas that have been erected all over the hills and avoid low sweeps' comes in a request from the safety department of my home base’. ‘Roger, roger, wilco, Papa Eagle’ I radio back. ‘Over and out’.
Another hot day of late summer. I take off from my perch, flying due south along the eastern border, low over the verdant hills and the magnificent water-falls which still appear like milk from up here albeit pouring like a mere trickle nowadays. Nothing compared to its gushing old times. It wouldn't be wrong to assume that its waters might have been diverted further up east by some ruthless citizens. Suddenly, I see danger as I pass through some turbulent weather. I promptly steer towards the west into a gentle dive over the flat plains of endless fields. I try to follow the shining parallel pieces of steel right below me leading to the coast. Now these must be the age-old train tracks heading towards the harbour. My breed has been renowned for sharp eye-sight. From up here I see what looks like a bus suspended on rails at the port city – Ah! Yes! So this must be what they call sky-bus – out of the drawing board - but still to be tested, I hear. I wonder whether it will glide on rails shortly or whether it will remain only as an experiment for a long time to come. I could easily beat its speed any day, any time, I surmise, whenever that happens.
I also observe that a huge cluster of decrepit buildings and shanties on Vasco beach have been demolished, that had a black mark on Goan soil. It gave the town a bad reputation anyway with the disgusting things that were going on there. I am happy to see them gone. Oh! Good! Fantastic, in fact!
Just then unexpectedly a huge piece of flying metal just above yet again frightens the feathers out of me. Shaken up a little bit I decide to head home. Now that must have been a charter flight! Or was it a military aircraft.
Monsoon is still a few days away. I will then be confined to my aerie. Now is the time to see some more places and enjoy the summer, I thought. So once again I take off on a gliding spree toward the central plains of this enchanting land of captivating beauty. As I cruise south-west I see the sun reflect sharply off the aileron on my left wing. I have tail-wind now, thereby gaining speed. It is quite early in the day, I thought. So I decide to lower my altitude, slow down and take the long way home. Proceeding north by north-west I cruise at about 52 km per hour, my speed being much slower than the suicidal and recklessly driven two, three and four-wheel machines on the winding and extremely narrow roads below. I notice the roads are very narrow, everyone seems to be speeding without obeying the rules and far too many motorbikes. I notice one good thing – some of the good old boys are wearing helmets again. I hope they don’t discard them after a few days. But the drivers and front seat passengers don’t seem to bother to wear seat-belts in cars – perhaps in the near future, I hope!
A moment later out of the blue I again espy twin metal tracks, but this time running north-south across the entire length of this picturesque land. This must be what they call the now-famous “tunnel-railway”, I guess. I have learned that it passes through innumerable tunnels. Unfortunately it is beset by land slides and rock falls. The overall space taken up by these tracks must be running into acres and acres of arable territory. I follow these tracks for some time. But I get bored after a while. So I opt to turn homeward directly north-west.
Directly ahead of my flying route I have a very clear view of the vast expanse of the land below me. What I now see is a region that once used to be a fully green district of majestic steep hills. To call them hills now would be a misnomer. In sharp contrast, once upon a time, calling this paradise was an understatement. As I look critically with my on-board micro-vision equipment the once beautiful terrain seems red. It appears that it has been mercilessly hacked from two sides. Nearby, in line with my right wing trim, I see a red trickle in the nearby river. Ah! I get it – so this must be the fall-out from the iron-ore being loaded on the barges. This is just my guess. I will get a confirmed report soon. My own assumption is that the change in topography of this land is due to excessive and mindless mining by unscrupulous mine-owners burrowing furiously like there is no tomorrow. Have they any idea about the eventual impact it will have on the environment? I may be wrong, but the damage might have already been done. Displeased with what is going on I head for home after picking up something for a snack on the way.
I have nothing much to do in the afternoon. I have a lot of time to kill. So I decide to accompany my siblings on a hunting trip to the hills further east, almost near the border. Realizing we did not have much luck with this venture we decide to head back and instead we settled on flying in formation for some sight-seeing of the nearby city in the evening. I take up my usual favourite position covering the rear left flank. We cautiously and slowly circle over the capital. Bravo! We notice that a lot of progress has undoubtedly been made. Sadly, one of the downsides is the renaming of some of the old street signs and the vandalizing of a good number of others by some destructive citizens. Due to this anomaly, at one point we almost lost our bearing. We were disappointed and downhearted. Let alone the tourists, but the very citizens of the land might be getting disoriented when they come home on holidays!
Using the expertise of our experienced navigator we managed to maneuver out of the city. Luckily we did not get lost in this beautiful and historic metropolis. We had enough for the day, I thought, because our squadron leader then signaled the rest of his siblings to head home before nightfall and stay out of trouble.
Tomorrow is another day. There is undoubtedly more to explore.
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