After reading Dale’s post The Rest of the Rest of Us, I have to share a link that my brother sent me to a story about an Indian businessman’s venture to give the poor of India a taste of modern life:
An Indian entrepreneur has given a new twist to the concept of low-cost airlines. The passengers boarding his Airbus 300 in Delhi do not expect to go anywhere because it never takes off.
All they want is the chance to know what it is like to sit on a plane, listen to announcements and be waited on by stewardesses bustling up and down the aisle.
In a country where 99% of the population have never experienced air travel, the “virtual journeys” of Bahadur Chand Gupta, a retired Indian Airlines engineer, have proved a roaring success.
As on an ordinary aircraft, customers buckle themselves in and watch a safety demonstration. But when they look out of the windows, the landscape never changes. Even if “Captain” Gupta wanted to get off the ground, the plane would not go far: it only has one wing and a large part of the tail is missing….
As for the passengers, they are too poor to afford a real airline ticket and most have only ever seen the interior of an aircraft in films.
“I see planes passing all day long over my roof,” Selim, a 40-year-old tyre mechanic was quoted as saying. “I had to try out the experience.”
Jasmine, a young teacher, had been longing to go on a plane. “It is much more beautiful than I ever imagined,” she said.
This story provided a counterpoint to Dale’s post that was both sobering and inspiring. I’m reminded of a wonderful line from Garrison Keillor, which I heard years ago on A Prairie Home Companion and which has stuck with me ever since: “Some luck lies in not getting what you thought you wanted but getting what you have, which you may be smart enough to see is what you would have wanted if you didn’t have it.” (Hmm. I just looked this up, and wikiquote renders it as “Some luck lies in not getting what you thought you wanted but getting what you have, which once you have got it you may be smart enough to see is what you would have wanted had you known.” Not as inspiring. I prefer my remembered version.)
We have so much to be grateful for. We also have so much to fight for, to make the world a better place. It’s easy to fall into acceptance of the unacceptable. It is a good world where people can take joy in something we jaded few lament as a tiresome burden. But it is a better world where we can share what we have, finding more delight in achieving and in giving than in having.