Birds’ Eye View
A Muslim engineer designed the earthen dam over 4 centuries ago on one of the tributary of the river “Musi’ to artificially create a 10 square mile lake in the center of City of Hyderabad in Southern India. The Dam now called ‘Tank Bund’ became one of the best recreational areas to the city dwellers. On one side of the Tank Bund was the lake and the other side has scenic parks with small streams. At the center of the lake, a 60-foot monolithic white granite Buddha statue was erected in early 1990’s as a tourist attraction. The Tank Bund is also one of the busiest streets in Hyderabad, the Capital City for Andhra Pradesh, one of the largest Southern Indian States. Hyderabad is also the capital for call centers and the sole source for out sourcing.
The lake and gardens around Tank Bund area attracts many birds; Larks, Finch, Kingfisher, Nightingale, Thrush, Lapwings and many others, some were migratory. From birds’ eye view, things have changed over the years; the human population has exploded in the area. The earthen dam was not just a dam to retain water in the lake but one of the busiest thoroughfares that joins two large cities; Secunderabad and Hyderabad. The traffic on the Tank Bund reached such a proportion, the auto emissions polluted the entire scenic area best known for the greenery and fresh air not long time ago.
A stroll on the Tank Bund now not a relaxing pastime any more but a painful chore to swim through human and auto traffic.
Large areas set-aside for pedestrian walk ways on the Tank Bund on both sides of the road were now occupied by the food vendors and several statues representing important public figures from various walks of life mostly cultural erected in 1980’s to remind people of their contribution to the society. The statues provide photo opportunities for tourists interested in the cultural history of the State, but also provide short term shelter to the birds to rest.
Yellow Throated Bulbul is one of the bird species that take temporary shelter on the statues. On one day in March of 2011, several Yellow Throated Bulbuls were flying high around the Tank Bund area thinking on which statue to rest for a short break from finding worms. A pair of Bulbuls resting on the statue of a personality known for his work on restoring the rights of young widows noticed a large crowd running towards the statues on the Tank Bund. Some of the men were carrying large demolishing equipment and other with long metal chains. The destruction of statues occurred fast and furious with no time to waste. The Bulbuls took off as the statue was demolished and dragged into the lake.
From Birds’ eye view, the whole scene was sickening. The birds spend time feeding on various bugs and worms at the garden and rest on the statues for a short break before flying back to their nests on nearby rocky hills quickly disappearing from too much quarrying. Since the statues on the Tank Bund were vandalized and dragged into the lake. The Bulbuls now take shelter on the statue of Buddha in the center of the lake since it safe from humans unlike the statues on the Tank Bund. Buddha was a Karma-Yogi born in 560 B.C., gave his life for ‘Ahimsa’ or non-violence, lucky his statue was erected in middle of the lake away from unruly crowds prone to violence. The statues of the dead people known for their self-less work on the Tank Bund were at the wrong place at the wrong time became victims to the mindless violence.
Watching the mindless destruction on the ground below, the birds flying high in circles started singing in harmony “now you have the distinction of having bird brains, you bird brains, bird brains bird brains.”
The Yellow Throated Bulbuls were safe resting on the statue of Buddha. The Bulbuls were clueless why the destruction of statues on the Tank Bund took place but they understood that the humans are dangerous species to live with, and their violent tendencies that erupt for any or no reason at all.
The statues fixed in ground and vulnerable to vandalism, ended up dismembered and thrown into the lake, not exactly the Muslim Engineer envisioned the purpose of it when he built over 400 years ago.