We’ve all looked longingly at birds in flight and wished we could soar free from the constraints of this Earthbound fate, swooping and levelling, twirling and revelling, flying high and diving low, but what about the other way around?
I absolutely kid you not, but the other day I was driving along one of the main Dubai highways – Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Road (E311) – when I encountered a pigeon, flying at about car roof height along the motorway right in the centre of the lane.
Occasionally he moved lanes, but each time he would line himself up in the centre of the lane and cruise along. Interestingly the average top speed of pigeons is about 120kph – the speed limit on that road. Of course everyone drives at about 140kph, but thankfully each car that I saw encounter this racy bird, slowed and swerved to avoid it.
I pulled alongside and drove with it for about a kilometre. Glancing over I could swear there was a look of focus and determination on its little face as it powered along with massive SUVs and trucks all around it.
It was quite an incredible thing to witness, and knowing that the bird could probably fly well above the road or swoop across it into the surrounding desert, and be totally clear of the obvious danger around it, I wonder what was going through its tiny head.
Was it a dare, was it challenge, or did the pigeon just look at these big metal things and think: ‘I wonder what it must be like to be bound to the road like them?’
As I took my exit it seemed to fly off towards the ramp too, then suddenly banked sharply back the other way, joining the lane on the opposite side. I didn’t see what happened to it after that, but I’d love to think of that little pigeon racing up and down the Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Road thinking it was a car. Sweet!