November 20th, 2019

Delhi’s new normal…

“Oh, it’s unhealthy today,” I muttered first thing this morning, checking my AQI app. And I was a-l-m-o-s-t relieved at a mere “unhealthy” status.

Anywhere else in the world, an air quality reading like this would be cause for alarm, but here in Delhi, it’s-well-you-know-kinda-sorta-almost-OK.

Because when your app has shown hazardous levels day after day, what’s a mere unhealthy?

I am not being flippant, truly I am not, but this is the new normal here in Delhi.

Unhealthy levels of PM2.5 particulate matter in the air we breathe means we are “improving.”

Yes.

Quite

Go figure.

A few days ago, our esteemed parliamentarians were meant to discuss the toxic air quality. 29 of India’s finest, along with officials from, you know, entities like the environment ministry were supposed to put their fine brains together to try and see a way out of the toxic mess.

25/29 MPs did not turn up.

And neither did most of the government officials. See I knew you wouldn’t believe me so here you go, this is from the article I just shared with you above:

WHY ARE WE PAYING THESE PEOPLE?

WHY ARE MY HARD EARNED TAXES SUBSIDISING THE LIFESTYLE OF THE LIKES OF A FORMER CRICKETER AND A FORMER ACTRESS WHO ARE NOW MPS, BUT CAN’T BE ARSED TO TURN UP?

WHY?

There is one thing that I really don’t “get” about our air pollution crisis. And it goes something like this:

That our MPs remain indifferent to the parlous state of government schools, for example, doesn’t shock me. Catch one of them sending their children to a government school.

That our MPs remain indifferent to the parlous state of government hospitals, for example, doesn’t shock me. Catch one of them going to a government hospital for treatment.

That our MPs remain indifferent to the unsafe, dilapidated buses, for example, doesn’t shock me. Catch one of them taking a bus to work.

But the filthy air doesn’t know that x is a pampered MP, and y is just a mere, tax-paying nobody.

Every one of us living here is at risk, pavement dweller or cabinet minister.

So where is the urgency?

The sense of terror that we are all breathing in this foul air?

Are you honestly telling me that these fine, elected politicians of ours, chosen for their brains and their wholehearted commitment to public service, are SO wrapped up in scoring political points that they would rather play politics than sort out the bloody air pollution?

If that is indeed the case, that politics trumps everything else then our only hope lies with our bureaucrats and municipal officials, who are, after all, public servants…oh, but hang on…they didn’t turn up for the meeting either…

And thus we all bumble and stumble along, coughing away, not going out, activities cancelled, health at serious risk…

Thank God Leonardo DiCaprio is concerned. More than can be said for most of our bunch of jokers fine upstanding politicians and bureaucrats.

For the record, after a couple of days of almost normal air, the old status quo is back.

Air filter on.

Low grade headache.

Itchy eyes.

My tragically new normal life.

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