It was the first year after moving to Delhi. Our child—who was two at the time—had a runny nose that just wouldn’t go. What normally lasted a couple of days, lasted a couple of months. Our general practitioner, a kindly sexagenarian, explained it was a result of the pollution and prescribed three medicines that would ensure peaceful sleep. We’ve since memorised the names of those tonics.
That was our first year of surviving Delhi. Since then not much has changed except that we have a plan for every Diwali and the ensuing toxic air. So here’s our six-point programme of how we deal with the pollution:
We start up the air purifier: Yep, we’re among those who’ve contributed to the soaring profits of the air purifier industry. There’s no other device which has a more powerful LED indicator. When it’s glowing red you consider moving cities, when it’s orange you feel like your investment is worthwhile, and when it’s green you feel like a responsible parent. So what if there’s no scientific evidence to back your feeling of comfort.
Our child becomes more homebound: School is the only outdoor location that’s permitted. Parks, outdoor trips, and pretty much all outdoor activity becomes restricted. Maybe we’re just being selfish. Any colds, coughs or problems will have to be dealt with by us. Restrictions ensure that doesn’t happen with too much frequency.
Put on a mask: We got a mask for a few thousand rupees the first year. It didn’t fit. Three years later, it just about fits and we now just have to convince our child to wear it. That should be easy (of course it won’t be). The hope is that friends and schoolmates might also wear one, and there’s nothing quite like peer pressure to push through an idea.
The annual Diwali trip: We’ve started a new tradition after our first year in Delhi. On the day of Diwali or a day before, we leave Delhi. A destination anywhere in the hills that is deemed to have better air quality is picked. One of us, or both, will take leave and we hope a few days of fresh air will help.
Discovering the hidden secrets of ayurveda: Ginger, honey, jaggery, anything. We’ll try out anything if it is believed to help. Fact checking and scientific testing be damned.
Worry: We think of achieving more, we consider alternate career paths and pretty much anything that we think will ensure we don’t have to live in Delhi. We worry individually, collectively and with friends. It doesn’t solve a thing, but it makes us feel a little better.