Delhi is choking.  Is anyone listening? Does anyone care?

Delhi is choking. Is anyone listening? Does anyone care?

I honestly don’t know where to start, to try and describe to you the extent of the awful air quality we are condemned to breathe here in Delhi.

I am going to try not to rant, even though I am SO angry at having to live like this.

I am going to stick to the bare facts, even though I feel like shrieking and shouting in fury and frustration.

I am going to let the images speak for themselves, but they do not even begin to capture the true extent of the horrific situation in which we are currently living. Millions and millions of us.

I know the toxic air currently blanketing not only Delhi but much of north India, has received coverage internationally.

So most of you, I imagine, will have seen similar images to the ones I’m sharing here, images of everything shrouded in dark mucky air.

But even so, even with these visuals, it is hard to describe the smell and the taste of this muck.

It is all pervasive, even in our privileged circumstances.

Let me explain.

We are “privileged”, because we have the means to try and protect ourselves from the worst of this horror.

We have the means to buy air filters – in our bedroom, in the sitting room and in our home office. With 2 house guests currently in residence (brave, hardy fools 😛 ) we trundle the air filters around from room to room, according to where we all are. Our staff have air filters in their quarters.

I use a powerful face mask on the rare occasions when I go out – even to the bank to draw cash, for example, off I go in full face mask.

And yet…

Everyone in the house is constantly coughing.

And, I repeat, as a “privileged” household, we have money for medecine, for cough sweets, for cough syrup, for doctors’ appointments for whoever needs them.

I have had a low grade headache every single day since I got back to Delhi on Diwali weekend.

My eyes itch and I often feel vaguely nauseous.

And, at the risk of repeating myself, I am one of the lucky ones.

We have filters, we have a plant-filled home, we have access to whatever meds we need. I work from home, so don’t actually need to go out that much.

And before you ask, no, I am absolutely not running. Not walking. Hardly leaving the house.




There is a terrifying lacunae of government. Our pusillanimous, venal politicians are doing NOTHING except pass the buck.

Everyone else is to blame.

The farmers in neighbouring states…this party…that party…

Let’s close schools for 2 days…let’s impose car restrictions, oh but then let’s lift them because of a religious festival…

We are all suffering irreparable health damage at the hands of these self-serving cowards. (Just for the record, I’m being v-e-r-y restrained and polite here…).

How DARE these people, who are supposed to be public servants, how DARE they think of their wretched elections, when millions of people are suffering?


This is a full-blown crisis.

A health crisis.

An environmental crisis.

A leadership crisis.

I said at the outset of this blog that I wouldn’t rant.

So I won’t.

But as I wrap up, let me state for the record that as I write, I’m sitting in my bedroom which is closed up – doors and windows – and has been closed all day. I have plants in my bedroom. I have an air filter.

And even so, the independent AQ monitor we have is showing a dangerous reading of 365 Pm 2.5

And you wonder why I am furious?


  1. Mad Shenker

    Low grade headache today. 1 week into arriving here.. horrible sinus infection which I have been treating by regular sinus lavage, coughing my lungs out. And today my eyes were bloodshot on waking. The air purifier is constantly on red. I think it turned blue for a split second a few days ago! This is all on the Govt of India. Spending lakhs of rupees on construction of temples instead of something as important as the environment and health.

    1. Pratima Kumari

      Mad Shenker.. Its a catastrophe that they refuse to prioritize… Not lakhs its crores that are spent on statues and edifices!!!! The lack of foresight and planning here is appalling.

  2. Appalling the situation is. The politicos are ofcourse shameless but what I’m witnessing asoltonishingly is extent to which many of us educated and informed folks don’t think it’s a crisis. 90% of folks in my circle are well to do, with pots of money and wealth of education & tons of apps on phone with numerous other information sources. Yet they chose to live dangerously without any protection or prevention against bad air plus it’s more of a coffee discussion they do versus act. When they see me with a mask on or a filter at home I’m thot of as a finicky guy or maybe fragile. Tsk. It’s just not seeping into folks as it shud. It’s not bleeding red per them and will be fine.. ofcourse it’ll be but what about the smog I’m and they r taking in now? Nah folks can spend 2k on a dinner or outing but not maybe few hundreds on a good n99 mask. Scary, stupid, suicidal…;(

    1. christine

      Anupam, you have hit the nail on the head here. I am astonished at how unconcerned so many people are. You’re also spot on about people not being willing to spend on a mask. Madness…

  3. Penny Winter

    It looks terrible. Our ex Ayah’s daughter (and the boys’ great play mate) is expecting her first baby soon, I dread to think what the pollution is doing to the baby already and how they can protect a baby once it is born.

  4. Su Sheppard

    Oh Christine, this is horrible! London smog of the 1940-50s all again! And as you say you are the luckier ones, the poorer people must be so smothered!
    I would not be able to live in Delhi now. It’s disgusting! Hugs for you all! 🙁

    1. Penny Winter

      Su Sheppard Shama’s daughter, Julia, is expecting her first baby soon, dread to think what the pollution is doing to the baby and how they will be able to protect the child once it is born. Julia was married just after Xmas and Shama wanted us all to go to the wedding, there were lots of reasons why we couldn’t, but Alex and Georgie wouldn’t have taken Asker to Delhi even had they been able to afford it because of the pollution.

      1. Su Sheppard

        Penny, Sharma as a granny! Wow, and Julia as the mum! But I do understand their worries. If I was being posted this year instead of 27 years ago, I would not be allowed by the FCO medics! It’s just awful! And we complain about the air in the UK at times.

  5. Gautam Chima

    Residential grade purifiers are NOT designed for these levels. You literally need two of them in each room (or double capacity rating units), to bring the air down. I know. I used to do it.

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