For someone who has lived all her life in Ahmedabad, Delhi naturally comes as a cultural shock. Amid the shine and glamour of Delhi elites with their diamonds as big as kesar mangoes back home, I, for one, feel quite out of place. But behind the facade of the razzle-dazzle lies the truth.
#WATCH | Toxic foam floats on Yamuna river near Kalindi Kunj in Delhi pic.twitter.com/aB8LGRiHFo— ANI (@ANI) November 8, 2021
Toxic foam floating in river Yamuna. See, it took me embarrassingly long to realise that the structure in the above video (first few seconds) is a statue and not an actual human who will come out of the snowy peaks of toxic chemicals in Bahubali style.
Now look at this.
#WATCH Toxic foam floats on Yamuna river near Kalindi Kunj in Delhi— ANI (@ANI) November 7, 2021
The national capital’s overall air quality is in the ‘severe’ category today. pic.twitter.com/janktDxmg9
Without context, one may imagine that this is some pretty lake in some European country with ice floating nearby. Or maybe one may think one is out penguin spotting in the Antarctica. Except, there are these two Delhi daredevils who’ve chosen to go boating in Yamuna for reasons not yet known.
And then for good measure, news agency ANI mentioned how the overall air quality in Delhi is in ‘severe’ category.
While we’re on the topic of people doing inexplicable things which defy basic logic and instinct of self preservation, here are some more visuals.
People take dip in Yamuna river near Kalindi Kunj in Delhi on the first day of #ChhathPuja amid toxic foam pic.twitter.com/nrmzckRgdq— ANI (@ANI) November 8, 2021
Our good friends at ANI would go out of their way to click pictures of people taking dip in the toxic water but won’t really warn them and tell them to stay away from carcinogenic foam. True professionals, not that anyone would’ve listened to them anyway.
And while we’re on topic of pollution in Delhi, here are some more visuals from the national capital.
Delhi’s overall air quality continues to remain ‘severe’ with Air Quality Index (AQI) standing at 436: System of Air Quality & Weather Forecasting & Research (SAFAR) https://t.co/qfXjSiNc3c— ANI (@ANI) November 7, 2021
Just look at these images. They look straight out of Hollywood horror film where if I were the lead actress walking on these streets, I would have been either killed or chased by a serial killer in first 10 minutes. Though, every time I walk alone in not-so-well lit lanes or get lost while exploring the city on my own and end up at shady looking tattoo parlours, my life does flash before my eyes. Anyway, I digress.
Of hazardous air and what can be done about it
Every evening I find a thin layer of dust on my eyelashes. And it has been ten days now and my cough and cold has not gone and every time I sneeze in a public place, someone thinks I’m more dangerous than the dude who blow himself up in the name of *cough*.
Things are so bad that even if one wants to step outdoors for a morning/evening walk for better health, one should not do it because the hazardous air quality will do more harm than good to your health.
Diwali has come and gone with Delhi Police busy arresting people wanting to have little fun bursting crackers while Al Qaeda dudes are on the run in national capital but if one sees the NASA report, one can see that firecrackers had very little impact on overall pollution. It was actually the neighbouring state people burning stubble that set our lungs on fire. But let’s not let facts get into the way.
So what really is the solution? How do we fight this or do we just resign to our fates? Then there is also water shortage in Delhi.
So either we have the toxic foam infused water from the Yamuna or there is no water at all. Delhi people are stuck between the devil and the deep blue sea. Speaking of the devil, here is what Aam Aadmi Party leaders have to say about the current situation.
दिल्ली के पास अपनी कोई नदीं तो है नहीं इसलिए पड़ोसी राज्यों से आने वाले पानी को हम ‘वाटर ट्रीटमेंट प्लांट’ में साफ कर घरों तक पुंचाते हैं। यमुना नदी में अमोनिया का स्तर बढ़ गया है: AAP नेता और दिल्ली जल बोर्ड के उपाध्यक्ष राघव चड्डा pic.twitter.com/3pYbTuzfG1— ANI_HindiNews (@AHindinews) November 7, 2021
That’s it guys. Delhi does not have its own private river, it doesn’t have its own power plant, and then there are allegations that Modi ji does not let Kejriwal do any work anyway. And then even the pollution is a gift from neighbouring state of Punjab after the farmers set their own fields on fire sending smoke across to us.
So we’re all on our own. Maybe it is time we all stop complaining and embrace the toxicity is in the air the way we have accepted Aam Aadmi Party as the reality of our times.
Every adversity can be an opportunity
Prime Minister Modi has asked us to “आपदा को अवसर में बदलना है” (turn every adversity into opportunity). So why not turn this crisis into opportunity and turn Delhi into tourist spot? You see, as one can see, without context and if one sees just visuals, these images make a very romantic picture. The toxic foam in Yamuna could be the prop for a lovely pre-wedding shoot. Why spend money and go to Kashmir when one can make the chemical clouds look like lovely snow?
Perhaps it could be turned into filming location for movies too where just like romanticising the Mughals, we could romanticise the pollutants. After all, both of these things eventually want to kill us, right? Instead of Stockholm Syndrome, we can then have DilliKeMalik Syndrome.
In short, if we just stop cribbing and accept and embrace it, it will perhaps start being kinder to us. As I write this article, a cloud of smoke, perhaps from a tiny little farm from Ludhiana, floated right into my room and kissed me, leading to a violent coughing fit. But instead of feeling miserable about my deteriorating post-covid lungs (with not so great BPM), I am being grateful that I am not dead. Yet.
Let us embrace the imperfections and make them better.
Note: Above article, with generous dose of sarcasm, was inspired from a Twitter Space hosted by a bunch of amazing people on Twitter and other conversations I’ve had with friends and colleagues.