Jan rushes into the washroom, to get a quick shower. Saying that he was running late would be a disgrace to the definition of ‘late’. He should have started an hour before and the only hope he had was to speed through the narrow lanes of Barcelona at speeds that would maybe land him in a Mission Impossible car chase scene. But miraculously he manages to get cleaned up, put a decent suit, and plow through the traffic to reach the airport barely 40 minutes to his flight departure. He knew that he was too late to pass through the normal manner so he decided to approach the Lufthansa information desk immediately.
Sweet-talking his way into the fast lane took all of Jan’s charm; perhaps it was the desperation evident on his face, or perhaps the efficiency from the Lufthansa personnel, or perhaps it was a combination of both. However, this did ensure that Jan was able to board the flight from Barcelona to Zurich via Frankfurt on time and as he looked down at the receding beach-line of Barcelona, at last he could breath. He was going to make it! He was going out on a date with a mysterious and, maybe, stunning woman in Amsterdam.
As he stares out of his window into the multifaceted sky blossoming with wondrous light textures, he starts thinking back about two weeks ago when all of this began. It was almost an year since his last break-up and one of his friends convinced him to start preparing for the next one. He recommended an online dating site which had apparently brought life-long companionship to many anonymous associates of his. Maybe he hadn’t had enough; Jan agreed to give it a shot. His first few experiences were so terrible that within the week he started thinking about getting unregistered. But just before he was about to hit the exit button he received a pop-up alerting him that he had just won the big jackpot named #TheBlindList which would mean that he could go out with one of the top 10 voted popular ladies on the site. Jan thought this must be a prank played by the site to keep people engaged and didn’t believe it at all. He simply could not believe that he could strike such luck so he moved his mouse pointer again to the exit button. But lo and behold, once again he had to stop. This time just as he was about to click his phone started ringing and when he checked it was his mom calling. He had been trying to call his mother since the last few days and was not able to reach her so he picked up the call. It took quite some time, as they had not talked for a while and it was bed time already so he thought he could always close the account next day and went to bed.
The next day he had a busy schedule, but he kept wondering about the strange events of the previous night the entire time. By the end of the day, his adventurous side had convinced his realistic side to have one final hurrah so he decided he will go ahead with this one final blind date before quitting. And fast forwarded here he was on-board this luxurious Lufthansa flight from Barcelona to Amsterdam with an intermediate stop at Frankfurt.
As the flight lands in Amsterdam airport, Jan walks out through the departure gate looking around for his taxi-pick up. He notices an Indian man dressed in an immaculate suit holding a placard with his name on it. He walks towards the person, and introduces himself. The guy names himself Kris (short for Krishna) and leads Jan towards the exit of the airport. Jan thought they should be going to a car parking lot but before he could comment he notices a car approaching the. As it slows in front of them he notices that there in front of him was a Tesla Model X standing in all its 140,000 euros worth of glory. As its doors open up like wings, Jan realizes this will be an exciting adventure ahead. As they start, Jan queries Kris about their location but receives only a cryptic reply about them going home. They drive for about 30 minutes and the car pulls into a modern looking building having a band running at the top with the word HEART repeated continuously
Jan (turning to Kris): Why does this building has a repeated mention of HEART all around the top?
Kris: It’s actually EARTH. But now that you mention this could also be interpreted as HEART or even HEARTH. Do you feel the positive intent arising from each of these words?
With this mysterious exchange, they walk into the reception. Kris smiles at the lady at the desk and mentions that they were going to meet Earth. Jan was left wondering about the strange name and the influence of the blind date he was meeting. He felt like he had walked into the sets of a mythological movie set and was a bit apprehensive about what he may experience next. They enter the elevator and Kris hits four buttons simultaneously on the panel. The door closes and they start going down. The panel reading shows negative numbers. In the beginning Jan thinks that they were going below a few underground parking lots but as the negative numbers starts going below minus ten he starts getting worried. Kris assures him that all was normal and that they will reach there destination soon. The elevator stops at – 365 floor and they walk out into a dazzling room decorated in ultra-modern decorations. Kris takes Jan through many corridors and enters a room with a great view of Amsterdam alight with sunlight. Looking at Jan’s confused expression, Kris presses a button at the panel besides the door and the view changes to Sydney harbor, then to New York Times Square, then to Tokyo skyline. He explains that the walls of the room have been equipped with the latest display technology and the entire room was designed to mimic the selected theme. Engrossed in his exploration of the room Jan doesn’t realize her entering, but when she calls her name he turns and looks upon the most beautiful face of his life. Kris stands besides her in comfortable companionship and after short while takes his leave. Jan was getting very nervous and trying his best not to stare at the lady. She walks upto him and introduces herself to be Earth. Jan introduces himself too and they move on to a luxurious sofa at the corner. He couldn’t believe that he was going on this date with such a pretty woman and was feeling extremely self-conscious. They heard a knock on the door and saw the lady from the reception walking in with a tray holding tea and coffee. Earth takes a cup of green mint tea and Jan has some coffee. As Earth is sipping her tea, Jan notices, from his peripheral vision, her face distorting into a wrinkled sickly old woman. He looks up in surprise and the vision is past but he is not able to remove an uneasy feeling about this experience. They chat about their background for a while and after his initial hesitation Jan starts enjoying the conversations.
Earth (sipping on her tea): This has been a really hot summer, isn’t it Jan?
Jan: I agree. This has been one of the hottest summers ever.
Earth get’s up, walks over to the panel besides the door and presses a button. Immediately, the view of the room shifts to a scene of the polar ice caps. It feels like they are sitting on the top of an iceberg.
Earth: Look around Jan, this is an image of this place in the future. Due to global warming the polar ice caps have melted and now the only landmass remaining are these icebergs.
Looking at the stricken expression on Jan’s face, Earth presses the button again and the view switches to the insides of a rustic old pizzeria. As if telegraphed, in walks the receptionist this time bringing with her a huge pizza sprinkled with many ingredients. The aroma is so enticing Jan can barely stop himself from jumping in. Together, they enjoy the excellently made pizza thin, crusty at the bottom, and soft above. Once he begins eating, Jan realizes he was ravenously hungry. Except for a breakfast he had not eating anything the whole day. Had it not been for the sandwich and refreshments he got on his flight he would be fainting unconscious. At current times of cost reduction, most flights are removing the option of free in-flight refreshment so Jan was pleasantly surprised with the excellent refreshments he received on the Lufthansa flight. It was as if Lufthansa was holding firm against the tide, adhering to its proud tradition of providing the best flight experience to its customers at the right price.
However, all the excitement had made him forget that it was dinnertime already and due to the ultra-modern lighting, he did not notice the onset of the evening. After the pizza, they had fresh fruits in desert and throughout continued their friendly banter. He really liked Earth and over the course of their conversation he began to feel protective towards her. The whole discussions about the polar icecaps melting had made the atmosphere somber earlier but the mood became more relaxed later. Earth stands up again and presses the button on the wall panel. This time the view shifts onto an underwater world abundant with weeds, corals and fishes.
Jan: Wow! Look at this view. It’s breathtaking!
Earth: I am glad you are liking it dear. But do you see nothing strange?
As Jan started looking at things out of this world, he started noticing decaying cans, plastics and garbage littering the floor. He started noticing the darker patches on the reefs where the corals had been poisoned from all the pollution from our coasts and rivers.
Jan: Ah! such beauty getting tarnished. How could they allow that? Why doesn’t anyone clean this up?
Earth: There is so much area of coast and water bodies to clean. And who will take the responsibility for public waters?
Saying this, Earth looks at Jan with sadness and her eye tear up. At that moment once again Jan notices the changes in her face and this time he clearly sees the vision of the sick old lady superimposed over her face. But once again, before he could comment Earth breathed in again and her face became normal again.
Earth: Our time is running out fast, I have to show you one more thing before you leave?
She rushes to the panel and this time the view shifts to a vantage point looking below which the sees an entire ocean of plastic waste. They are floating on water and the scene is stretching as far as he can see.
Jan (looking disgusted): What is this place?
Earth: This my dear is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. You remember that plastic you left on the beach after you had enjoyed your picnic. This is where that all accumulates.
Jan: But how could there be so much waste?
Earth: All those plastic waste accumulated all around the world over the years get’s washed inwards by oceanic currents and is getting concentrated at five hot spots in the ocean. This is one of the biggest among the hot spots.
Jan: But why are we not doing something about it?
Earth: I won’t blame anyone, at least not yet, as this has been detected only recently. Our intake of plastic is a very current phenomena so it has taken at least this much time to make the problem big enough to be visible.
Jan understands the arguments but he simply is not be able to quench the anguish he feels deep down and promises he is going get involved with the various ocean cleaning and conservation platforms the moment he gets back. Just while he is thinking along these lines he hears a loud thudding sound. He see that Earth has fallen unconscious in front of the sofa; he shouts for help and gingerly lifts her up. He is shocked as he seems be holding on to the very frail old woman who he had seen reflected on the face of Earth. He holds on to her until Kris come over and with some more nurses takes her away on a gurney. He follows them as they take the old woman into an emergency treatment room and waits outside.
After about 30 minutes Kris comes out to him and says all is well and if he wants he can leave now. Looking concerned Jan asks Kris what had happened to Earth. Kris looks at him and says that what he saw at the was what Earth has become now. As amount of pollution keeps increasing her life force is getting weaker and she is dying slowly.
Kris: Do you know what is the saddest part? It’s the apathy. No one cares because the changes and impact that are happening is much bigger than a human lifespan.
Jan: But are there not scientists and data on tracing this and finding a cure?
Kris: The technology that could enable detection of these phenomena is very recent. I just hope we have not reached the point of no return.
Jan (with passion): I will stop her from dying. I will save her!
Kris: No, will not. Like many before you, as soon as you return you will start working towards protecting Earth and realize how big the challenge is. Then like everyone else you will give up!
Kris wipes a single drop of team from his eyes, and looks directly at Jan and asks.
“Is this why I gave her to you ?”
(The above passage is written for the exciting campaign launched by Luftansa #TheBlindList and #SayYesToTheWorld. I give it to raise awareness on the detrimental impact of pollution on Earth and it’s ecosystem. Hopefully, you will join together with me in STOPPING all forms of POLLUTION!)
- First three flights are from personal experience flying from Barcelona to Amsterdam. And yes, this time I did get a taxi ride in a Tesla Model X! 🙂
- Coral reef picture from: https://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/deep-coral-reefs-protection-1.4754904
- Melting Antarctic Iceberg image from: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100428142258.htm
- Plastics garbage image from: http://argentinambiental.com/notas/ecopress/gigantesco-mar-basura-tensa-las-relaciones-honduras-guatemala/