How to Survive Diwali in Smoggy Delhi: A Healthy Dose of Vitamin D (Denial and Delusion)


How to Survive Diwali in Smoggy Delhi: A Healthy Dose of Vitamin D (Denial and Delusion)

Illustration: Arati Gujar

We Indians display high levels of Vitamin D, i.e., “denial” and “delusion”.

When Ram returned to his kingdom after 14 long years, Ayodhya-wasis chartered a Vimana and flew to China to buy crackers to celebrate his homecoming. One of the rockets lost its sense of direction, landed in Lakshman’s man bun and set it on fire. He was quickly thrown in a nearby pond where he nearly drowned. “Rangeela babu to hai superstar” was played at ear-shattering levels all night which prompted Sita to look for cheap tickets to Colombo on

The morning after was so hazy, Ram gave a good morning kiss to Manthara instead.

When I received this unusual Happy Diwali WhatsApp message, I immediately forwarded it to my “Let’s Make Hindu Festivals great again (LMAO)” group. I was added to the group by one of my know-it-all friends and am eager to prove that I totally deserve to be part of it, because my eyes have opened to my ignorant ways. Now I can’t shut them anymore.

Until a few weeks ago, I was a whine-bag like many of you and would check the Air Quality Index and Suspended Particulate Matter levels obsessively, bemoaning the deteriorating air quality and its long-term consequences, especially for young kids. One fateful morning when the world outside looked like a dystopian horror show covered in haze, I noticed that I was the only fool who’d stepped out wearing a mask while the rest of the world gave me strange looks. But it was only when someone insisted that air purifiers contribute to indoor pollution that I became unhinged. I went on Facebook and spat my frustration at our “chalta hai, marna to sab ko hai” attitude that the inept administration is banking upon.

This clever marketing gimmick was conceptualised by air-purifier companies in collaboration with Pakistan, CIA, and Kim Jong Un to turn us into responsible citizens

Just as steam was coming out my ears and fogging my senses, I had a moment of blinding clarity. I really appreciate the noble souls who took time out of their busy schedule to explain things to me like I was a moron. If it weren’t for them I would have never known that WHO is taking out the off-the-charts AQI figures out of their ass. In reality, this is simply fear psychosis at work. This clever marketing gimmick was conceptualised by air-purifier companies in collaboration with Pakistan, CIA, and Kim Jong Un to turn us into responsible citizens who will actually do something about the alarming state of our cities rather than playing victims. I have been further assured that acceptance is the key to inner peace. Delhi air quality was bad, is bad, and will always be bad. All I need is to give two tights slaps to my lazy lungs to stop them from acting tantrummy.

I will have to admit, changing myself wasn’t easy. I had to switch to a diet rich in the aforementioned Vitamin D. I was further asked to enrol in WhatsApp University where I was made to go through some petty thick, rigorous volumes full of facts. Like, did you know India holds the rare distinction of bagging maximum number of UNESCO awards? Modi ji was a tailor before he became a chaiwala and designed the Nehru jacket? Also, have you ever tried drinking tea made with gutter gas?

My God. All these years my life was a lie!

Once cleansed of my ignorance, I was a happy soul once again. These days when I start choking and feel nauseous, I no longer blame the bad air and hang upside down from my 25th-floor balcony. My eyes glaze over when people tell me things like close to 50 per cent of patients with lung cancer had never smoked, and yet had developed the pulmonary disease. Health professionals who believe there is strong evidence that points to the role of air pollution, are Urban Naxals of course. When I read the BBC report that India is on the verge of the worst water crisis of the century and it will only get worse, I pooh-poohed it and used 72 buckets of water to clean my car.

Why should I take responsibility for the filth I generate, the precious resources I waste when I know Bhagwan will take care of everything? Disaster never strikes those who fast every Mangalwar and Guruwar, hold the city ransom with their cacophonous celebrations to honour their favourite God, and think they are at threat from minorities they constantly terrorise.  

This Diwali I decided to prove all the sissies who’ve been demanding accountability and action from the lawmakers they have elected to the office, wrong. I burst a shit load of crackers in brazen contempt of the SC order and sent the AQI levels so high that the sensors gave up and walked off to the Himalayas. The morning after, the city was covered in a shroud of smog, just like a hill-station. And I swear I spotted a lady in white, her feet pointing backwards, holding a candle and wheezing loudly.

Look sister, it’s thanks to me and the constant efforts of my bros, you get to see clear skies five times a year. While the rest of the world takes clean air, water for granted, I am upping your immunity by feeding you pesticide-laced veggies and overdosed-on-antibiotics chicken. If you supplement that with two tablespoons of Patanjali’s Chyawanprash, boss, you are set for life.

Psst… I have a feeling all our honourable netas are secret members of the LMAO group. Why else would the environment ministers of Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan choose to skip a crucial meeting called by union minister Harsh Vardhan to discuss measures that could stop further deterioration of air quality in the National Capital Region? While world leaders gathered at the WHO for air pollution solutions, the central government chose to participate in festivities marking the unveiling of the Sardar Patel Statue instead.

Goodness, could I be so lucky? Am I really part of a select group that thinks changing names of cities and erecting statues is true vikas? That jobs can be generated, cities can be cleaned, law and order can be ensured simply by giving hate-filled speeches? Damn! I must make sure I am never kicked out of the LMAO group. Maybe if I start a petition for a 6,00,000-metre statue of the middle finger raised towards the sky, I will be made a permanent member of the group. Good idea, naa?