And Then the Smog Struck


And Then the Smog Struck

Illustration: Akshita Monga


oday, my cab driver and I – in an enclosed, air-conditioned Toyota Etios (second only to the Wagon R in terms of Uber circulation) – were doing this little round of jugalbandi. He sniffed out loud. Mazaa aa gaya, Pandit ji, I said, and wheezed in return. Waah, Ustaad, he said. Then he wheezed with greater force, so I sniffed a snotty sniff back. We both waited for a round of applause for our phlegmatic performance. Then we coughed in unison. After that, we rolled down our windows one after another, depositing – hacking out – a big, floaty, yellow-green chunk (each) of our lungs on to the street. It was poetry in motion.

Something weird is happening in Delhi, my city of birth, the love of my life. My people – and me (to a much lesser extent) – are actually doing something. Delhi is allegedly the single-most polluted city in the whole world right now, by quite a margin. And we’re talking about real, actual, scientific pollution with data and measurements and markers and studies and surveys and analyses here, not just the mental corruption that Delhi had already mastered years ago.