It’s been a year since the epidemic hit India and for me, the weird thing is how healthy I am. Unlike all the people I see on the streets, I have been wearing a mask for the past 12 months. I religiously washed my hands and stayed away from the crowd. As a result, for the first time in my life, I did not have a cold all year round.
This is great. Living in Delhi with crowds and the abrupt changes of the season usually means every bug is chosen very nicely.
I do not like masks. And, during the steam-bath summer in northern India, wearing something on your face can be preventing. After this epidemic is over, I hope the habit of wearing a mask will remain the same.
All the time, of course. That can ask a lot. Wouldn’t it be great if city dwellers around the world started behaving a little more like those in East Asia? During the flu season, what if people wear masks whenever they want to take a flight or join the crowd? What if they caught themselves sniffing, holding a mask as they walked out the door?
I have found that this dream is a little harder to achieve in some parts of the world. This century has set a ridiculously high bar for bias and polarization, but, by those standards, turning a mask into a political statement in the United States and elsewhere is awful.
Sure, of all the things one can do to prevent the spread of the disease, wearing a mask is easy to understand. Instead, it is as if a section of humanity has decided that it is absolutely polite to cough on people’s faces.
Health officials have never been smarter about this: last March, remember, they, like Dr. Anthony Fauzi, told Americans that “there is no reason to turn a blind eye”. They later changed their minds. , The inconsistent message is still damaged.
There is another reason why masks are silver lining in this awful year, at least as far as I am concerned. Last March, Prime Minister Narendra Modi ordered India to have one of the most forced lockdowns in the world. Markets were closed, deliveries stopped, no one could buy anything – but I was rich. Because, when I slept near the door of my Delhi flat, I had a lot of N95 masks.
Not because I saw the epidemic wonderfully before. (If I had, I would have reduced the market, not bought the masks.) I did not store the masks the moment the news of the virus came out.
The reason I have masks on hand is very simple: I bought a large number a few winters ago. Not with fear of the flu, because breathing in Delhi is also dangerous. It is the most polluted megacity in the world. By 2020, two-thirds of the world’s cities will be in India, most of them in the northern plains around Delhi. Sensitive individuals, who experience 10 times worse air quality, wear a mask to protect their lungs.
However, the first few times I went to Delhi Delhi in disguise I felt stupid. In those hallucinogenic pre-pandemic days, no one around me wore it. In the mild winter weather they chatted with each other and breathed manually in the gray, poisonous air.
I’m glad people are in the habit of wearing masks and watching. When there is no epidemic around, going without a mask in Delhi can kill you.