The Air in Delhi is Clearing… I Can Finally Locate My Husband


The Air in Delhi is Clearing… I Can Finally Locate My Husband

Illustration: Arati Gujar

Sunday. In my Gaon. I wake up with stinging eyes and an itch in the throat. I promptly blame it on the Tequila shots I did not have last evening. I stumble toward the window to take a peek outside. Rub my watering eyes twice. The outdoors are missing. It has been replaced with a thick wall of smog, one that smells a lot like those smoking lounges at the airports, which you accidentally walk into and moonwalk out of.

Since I occasionally emulate woke bros and enjoy being in a constant state of panic, I check the Air Quality Index compulsively. It’s my new post-Diwali hobby. The rating has breached the 1000 mark. And yet here I am standing, doing a perfect job of being alive.

As any proud Indian would, I dismiss the results as a western conspiracy to defame India shining. Pollution, after all, is a narrative popularised by the privileged, who go to the Swiss Alps for holidays and return with far fetched ideas of having cleaner, less stressful cities that First World inhabitants take for granted.

I agree it’s been a while since I have seen the sky. It seems to have switched to incognito mode for a few weeks. Unlike other cities, in NCR, we can see the air, hanging heavy, looking half dead, like me after my 50th burpee. Still nobody cares except a few drama queens drumming up needless hysteria on social media by comparing Delhi to Chernobyl. Uff… I suggest you should stick to watching Sasural Simar Ka.

As any proud Indian would, I dismiss the Air Quality Index results as a western conspiracy to defame India shining.

Can you please calm down and let our farmers set their land on fire in peace. Learn from our esteemed environment minister, Mr Javadekar. Instead of panicking and treating it like an emergency, he urged us to start the day by listening to the sounds of the veena. This is the kind of zen we all must strive for, as we literally wait to take our last breaths.

I must confess that of late I have been feeling like Christian Grey’s object of lust — in the constant throes of a passionate choke. But when I start singing, “Jiya jale, jaan jale, naino tale dhuan jale” and swinging from side to side like Preity Zinda in Dil Se, I do feel a little better. I know I will feel as invigorated as a newly bought MLA if I follow our health minister’s advisory and munch on carrots.

I have no idea why some of you are under the delusion that the people you elected are going to waste precious hours fighting pollution. They have bigger problems at hand. Please let them focus on pressing matters like dissing Einstein, showing their middle finger to Darwin’s theories on evolution, and demanding answers from Nehru for every policy failure. Who doesn’t prefer dirty politics to clean air?

Besides aren’t you aware, burning of stubble is an Indian tradition dating back to Vedic era? Inhaling a bit of smoke will only make you as grey matter deficient as UP minister, Sunil Bharala, who would have us burning more fires to appease Lord Indra, and hence be saved from death by breath. Mr Bharala, allow me to present to you a better solution: Why don’t we just get two frogs married and be done with it? If they can bring us rain, they can surely help us get rid of the bad air days.

Who doesn’t prefer dirty politics to clean air?

I am telling you, this is the best time to be in India, but we stop masquerading as a civilised nation. As many as 15 of the 17 most polluted cities in the world are in north India. Studies say inhaling this hazardous air will shave off another seven years from our lifespans. Isn’t that wonderful? Seven fewer years toiling for karma points until we move to a higher plane. (Bungalow on Akbar Road optional).

While you’re at it, don’t bother altering your lifestyle. Instead hone your whataboutery skills and point fingers at Bakri-Eid, Christmas, and 71 years of misrule. Burn a fuck ton of crackers to protect your fragile pride. Why walk when you can take your car to the market barely five minutes away? Shun the Metro because you are no pleb. And while you are it, applaud the government for digging up yet another road. Why think of intelligent solutions for traffic choke-points when you can cut trees, clear forests, and turn the city into a dust bowl?

It works out for everyone. Minus the ill-mannered northerners with zero civic sense, India will be great again. Minus Delhiites, Mumbaikars will have to look towards actually achieving something of its own. With no north, there will be no North-South divide. We won’t have to put with obnoxious Delhiites calling everyone south of Vindhyas, Madrasis.

With so much spirituality imbibed from our great leaders, I seem to have managed the impossible. It’s now almost the end of the day, and the weather seems to be clearing up. Enough to locate my husband and daughter in our house, at least.