By Kishore Ganesh
Greta Thurnberg. Climate Warrior. Inspiration. Teenager. If you haven't heard of her, well, this story is for you.
It all started with an Ola auto-rickshaw booking on a beautiful Sunday morning.
I had booked the auto well in advance with the intention of reaching my destination ahead of time. I got one as per plan and was on my way when I was halted by my old nemesis: the Sony World Signal (in Bangalore). At the exact same time that I was at the infamous junction a bunch of young adults were being more 'adult' than most I had come across in a long time and were marching for their future as part of the ‘Global Climate Strike’.
My auto-rickshaw driver happened to be this budding stand-up comedian who was entertaining his friend on the phone with his witty and sarcasm-laced speech.
His 'stand-up routine' covered a lot of topics from traffic to the perils of being an auto-rickshaw driver and as expected his attention quickly turned to the climate protest march that was heading toward us.
One young lady from among the protestors was distributing 'seed papers': papers that would become plants upon planting.
She handed one to the female traffic cop at the signal, several to the people on the footpath and two sheets made their way to me and the auto-rickshaw driver, too.
The driver proceeded with his routine on the phone that people protest for something or the other but not against the menace of Bangalore's woeful traffic. Soon thereafter, he took the paper and read it aloud in a tone that had elements of both mockery and genuine confusion.
Being a participant of a previous climate strike march, I was annoyed at his sarcastic banter but chose to adopt a ‘none of my business’ attitude. The one curious thing that I did observe was that despite the mocking tone, the comedy routine on the phone and his general nonchalant attitude, he took the paper and safely put it away in a compartment above the windshield.
As I reached my destination and asked for the fare, the conflict within me to talk to this man about climate change and to hold onto the ‘none of my business’ attitude had reached a crescendo and finally the environment nerd in me won the battle and I said, "Sir, you talk with a lot of cleverness. Traffic problems will always be here and best case scenario, they will get better with wider roads and lesser vehicles. But climate change will affect everyone. It will affect your children. So when you've the time, just Google it. And the reason I am saying this is because I have a feeling people will listen to you."
I said this knowing fully well that he could probably be aware of Greta, climate strike and climate change. Maybe he knew all about climate change in the vernacular language and the climate strike was unknown to him because mainstream media rarely give any attention to incidents as heartening as a march by the youth for the climate.
Whatever it was, I felt I couldn't take a chance.
But, surprisingly, the auto-rickshaw driver listened to me patiently and mentioned that he will surely check it out online.
As for me, it was a learning experience. I learnt that respect and letting go of spontaneous assumptions can help you deliver your message to the audience in the right manner.
And even if the person on the other end thinks you're pretentious or arrogant: well, who cares? The world's perception of you is not the glacier that needs saving now.
In conclusion, spread the word on climate change.
Create awareness & take action.
What's the worst that can happen? Nothing can be worse than the literal end of the Earth, can it?