It was a scene straight out of a Hollywood horror movie. But without an American hero on hand to save the world.
There was shoving and jostling and pushing to catch the next train leaving town. Those who could afford to, packed their cars and fled.
The reasonably timely and plentiful rains in and around Delhi have washed away the atmospheric pollution, and with it the last vestige of normalcy, leaving hapless residents gasping for breath in an environment they are not familiar with, clean air.
An earthquake of 8+ magnitude on the Richter scale could not have caused such panic. Signs of distress are visible all around.
Motorists are in all sorts of trouble. Suddenly able to see far, drivers are having a difficult time keeping their focus on the road immediately ahead, and are bumping into all sorts of objects, including objects off the road. There is just so much visibility that one can handle.
Even man’s best friend has not been spared.
As can be expected, sports and outdoors people are among the first to be affected.
Cycling for health has gained popularity in recent times. But in the situation the city is presently in, cyclists have no option but to hang up their boots. “If there in no pollution about which awareness is to be raised, what is the point of cycling”, is a refrain one is hearing from the cycling community over and over again. And, indeed, from the running community as well.
“We were trained to handle chest and lung problems caused by a polluted environment, not by a clean one”, this senior medic can be heard complaining. “We will have to go back to school. This puts at risk the years of hard work we put in at medical school.”
…even as queues at respiratory clinics around the city are rapidly increasing and threatening to go out of control.
But nothing like able leaders to show the way during a time of crisis.
PM Modi, as has come to be expected of him, was the first to take responsibility.
In this TV grab, the PM can be heard saying “bhaiyon behnon, yeh is ungli ka kamaal hai; main chahta hoon ki desh ka har nagrik aur har bachcha apni ungli ka theek istemaal kare” (brothers sisters, it is the magic of this finger; I want every citizen and every child to make proper use of their finger). The faithful, of course, understand that he was implying that he reached up and punctured the clouds with that finger to let the rains come down.
Being an intelligent man, after taking credit for what he did not do, and knowing that rains were causing distress to the people, he has promised to tackle the problem on a war footing by launching the World Index Finger Day.
Face masks are becoming redundant.
This has let to sharp cutbacks in production in some factories in a country to the North and East, that manufactures everything in the world. This, in turn, has led to labour unrest in some parts of that country.
But, one man’s meat as another’s poison, they say.
Designers are stepping in to fulfil the need of locals to wear masks, which they have become accustomed to, and without which they feel naked. It is the latest fashion accessory to be seen in, in high society.
Here is an image of a socialite seen in a Prada mask at a popular event in Delhi.
Shopping malls, as part of their CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) effort, are stepping in to do their bit by inviting people to breathe in their bottled, recirculated air while they shop.
A busy mall in the suburb of Gurgaon, abuzz with people eager for their “fix” of stale air.
Car companies are eagerly awaiting their turn to do a good turn to society.
Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, as has come to be expected of him, immediately announced relief for the beleaguered population by introducing the Odd-Even scheme. Readers of this blog might know that Mr. Kejriwal solves all issues with the help of his trusted Odd-Even scheme, be it excessive pollution, unmanageable traffic, or, as in this case, too little pollution.
Under the new version of the scheme, the decommissioned coal-burning Indraprastha power plant would be restarted to give the Delhi air some of its mojo back.
The new version is called Odd AND Even. The plant, once restarted will work on Odd days. AND on Even days.
Being the good man as all politicians are, or become, the Delhi CM is reported to be deeply affected by the developments. In this image, with a wistful look, he is watching a video of the halcyon days of Delhi. Can he bring those days back?
But there is good news. The Met department has forecast that rains will soon taper off and Delhi will return to its salad days of haze and smoke and smog and dust.
If people who have left Delhi are reading this, please plan on coming back soon. We miss you. More than that, we miss our atmospheric pollution.