The sun is not visible in Delhi, at least not since a couple of days. It is difficult to define morning. There is a smoke lingering around, just like those romantic Bollywood movies where the curvy heroine with a spaghetti blouse and Georgette sari walks out of a mist. Or even the jacketed and muffler clad hero, walking out of a fog on the railway station (reminds me of some Shahrukh Khan movie). Coming back to the smoke, it does seem romantic or bewitching but imagine the heroine walking out and coughing right into your ears.


The romance bubble bursts. Welcome to the Smoke House Delhi.

Mornings are essential for a writer. The mental musings with a cup of tea sipped comfortably in a balcony overlooking a green patch; give a lot of fodder to write. The smoke has killed my mornings. The deep breath I take along with the sip of masala chai, chokes me to death. I then walk in back into the bedroom (my 378th incarnation I assume after almost dying through earthquakes, riots, swine flu, bird flu, lead flavored noodles and Delhi’s first love – Dengue), hoping the smoke doesn’t enter along with. I am an Indian. I can survive.

If I ever write a book on the Art of Survival, it will be an instant failure in India. I am not being pessimistic, I am a realist. We Indians are so good at survival that we do not need a guideline. Guidelines confuse us. Plus we all are seven year olds at heart. We have not let the child within us die. Why do I say this? Simple, the moment we are asked not to do something, we have to try it once.

And in this trial of sorts we often stand losers. Delhi lost to pollution this year.

Is Diwali to be blamed?

Is vehicular pollution to be blamed?

Is paddy burning to be blamed?

The answer is – None of the above.

Nothing but our idiocy is to be blamed. There is a cycle of nature and many of the customs we follow have logic behind it. The burning of crackers during Diwali is originally a friendly custom. The smoke caused by the traditional crackers killed most of the insects that breed during rainy season. This helped in curbing a lot of diseases spread by mosquitoes and even saved crops from being harmed by swarms of insects.

But excess of anything is harmful. Even a medicine can turn deadly if not administered in the right way in the right amount. But who cares – Yeh Dil Maange More.

And lo behold, our obsession for excess has turned a simple living process of breathing into a deadly phenomenon.

Yes our politicians are to be blamed as well. While visiting neighboring states for personal gains they could find some time over butter chicken and beer to work out a strategy with their counterparts. Alas, such is never a case. The predicament doesn’t affect them. Even if it does, it is not their responsibility to work; they have been elected for the ultimate task in politics – Blame Game. There is an age old saying in Hindi – Yatha Raja Tatha Prajaa.

So while we continue to contribute into our messed up air and blame the politician, he continues to blame the neighbor, who in turn continue  to blame the policy and finally I will not be surprised if somewhere Pakistan and US also become a part of the Chain of Blames.

The story doesn’t end here. It is believed that India is a big market and global brands have set their eyes on our consumer driven economy. But of course this is good news. We really can bring the best out of everything. How can we otherwise explain the availability of designer masks to save ourselves from the smoke? May be it is our positivity that helps us live through it all.

Like my seven year old boy says, “I don’t mind wearing the mask Mumma, it makes me feel like Iron Man.”

So while my Iron Man manages to lose his third mask in a row and the politicians agree to disagree on finding solutions. I continue breathe the poison along with my masala chai aroma trying to find my lost morning.


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