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Winter gloom obliterating effervescence

Well, if we talk about air quality, I am very sure as per the measurement standards, it must never have been good and always rested in the bad, worse, alarming categories.

Published: 10th January 2022 08:26 AM  |   Last Updated: 10th January 2022 08:26 AM   |  A+A-

A man rides a tri-cycle during a cold winter morning in New Delhi.

A man rides a tri-cycle during a cold winter morning in New Delhi. (Photo | PTI)

While sharing a picture of a family outing from memory lane on Facebook, one captioned it as 'when Delhi was not a gas chamber'. This had an immediate response from a naysayer friend asking when Delhi was not a gas chamber.

Well, if we talk about air quality, I am very sure as per the measurement standards, it must never have been good and always rested in the bad, worse, alarming categories. But despite that Delhi in the pre-COVID days was a city to be in.

The wide expanses hosting huge fetes and fairs were worth a visit. Before the onset of Omicron, one thought that Delhi's winter would be back to normal with 'mela' grounds hosting people in large numbers over the weekends.

Alas, that was not to be. The new strain has put paid to any ideas one had about 'enjoying the winter'. Take a drive through the city, the deserted and haunting images of Delhi Haat, Nehru Stadium, Lodhi Garden, would all lead to heartbreak.

Even on Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg, where the newspapers still have their offices, the busloads of children to visit Doll’s Museum have not arrived for the past two years. The trips to Children’s Park at the India Gate are over.

One wonders if the Centra Vista Project has spared the Children's Park, after all, it has a Nehruvian connect. The winter exhibitioncum- sale at Mandi House, Garhwal Bhawan, and milling crowds at the Khadi outlets too seem to have become part of a distant history. So have the private winter lunches hosted by some of the Delhiwalas of the older genre.

Delhi’s balmy winter of course is being missed. The absence of chirp on the campuses too is bewildering. Those who have graduated from the colleges this year did not have access to their classrooms during half-of-their stay.

There are those who joined in 2020 and all this while have been longing to be in the classrooms. We are getting to see huge hoardings on some government scheme, which has unearthed big business ideas from the government school students.

One wonders if these fertile minds did not have an idea on how to get the classrooms going. The long spell of winter rain this week, which came with the weekend curfew has added to the gloom. One wonders what purpose does a weekend curfew in Delhi serve if the same is not extended in its suburbs under the administration of Uttar Pradesh and Haryana governments.

It would be difficult to have such a curfew in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh, which has the largest share of the daily migrants who come to the city for work. The poll panel for now has said that there will be no rallies till January 15.

One wonders what the parameter is to decide on this date as there isn't any other indicator the Omicron surge shall start to recede after January 15. Delhi's own administrators would also be busy in these polls, violating all the COVID-related protocols.

It's very convenient to put the city under curfew and travel to a poll-bound Uttarakhand and Punjab fetching votes addressing public rallies. They in fact went a step ahead. Delhi government was quick enough to relax curfew on Sunday to allow birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Gobind Singh, lest the voters in Punjab should get hurt.

Such slip-shod measures in extra-ordinary circumstances make Delhi a worse gas chamber indeed than it was a few winters ago. Delhi actually needs some fresh air aka fresh ideas to make it breathe lest it should lose on its vibrant character.



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