We flew from Bangalore to New Jersey last week. I fell asleep soon after boarding the flight because we had started out for the airport at 4:00 a.m. When I awoke we were flying over the Zagros Mountains between Iran and Iraq. I followed the flight path on the Moving Map on the computer screen in front of me.
After passing over the mountains we flew almost directly over Mosul in Iraq. 10,000 meters below us the ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) militants were wreaking havoc. We, the passengers in the plane, were on the same lat-long, but different altitude. Almost like in parallel universes. Forty Indian nurses were somewhere down there, staying home for safety. That was on the news the night before we left. What was happening there now?
Further on, we passed not far from Crimea and Donetsk on our starboard side. It was a sobering thought, that below us a battle was raging and people were being shot dead even as our plane made its benign passage overhead. Just 10,000 meters altitude and a few degrees of lat-long separated us from the war zone! On the port side we passed Istanbul, then crossed a small part of the Black Sea into Europe, entering the airspace over Rumania.
Flying above France I thought of the French politician, Marin Le Pen, who is one of the people spearheading the movement to break up the EU “like the Soviet Union”. Another era ends?
Then the beautiful patchwork of fields as we approached London, then over London itself. For decades I had thought of London as a welcoming city where Londoners accommodated other people looking for jobs there. But allowing hordes of citizens of EU states to grab the jobs of the British was a bad idea, which has understandably not gone down well with the locals, to say nothing of the hordes of Indians who have been there for decades already. Though I do understand what drives people to emigrate I sometimes wonder if it isn’t a little like a house guest overstaying his welcome and being a burden on the host.
After a short layover at Heathrow we started the second leg of our journey across the Atlantic.