The end of the Indian dream?
This post is also available in: French
Awakened at 6am, once again because of the construction site opposite to our home which is never ending (small building of 4 floors built by some families brought there from North Karnataka so it’s been going on already for two years), I grab my son, in his room, in tears. He’s been also awakened. I bring him in our room to try to make him sleep in our bed and save some sleep time, after all, it’s holiday today.
Everybody’s finally sleeping again except me. I grab my smartphone to try to read something smart without waking up everybody. So I open “The New Yorker” which is never disappointing me in that field. I stumble upon an article which is, for once, quite close to me, it’s about an American mum surviving in Delhi’s extreme pollution. She is describing an everyday life limited to spaces covered by air purifiers churning out fresh air round the clock and where it’s almost impossible to step out (for the rich class), while poors are dying of asthma crisis… I just slightly exagerate what I’ve just read which seems pretty true from the stories we hear from South India regarding Delhi. Right, we are in the South, and in Bangalore, so nothing to worry compare with Delhi. At least, this is what we like to think.
Small flashback on what happened to our small family this week: monday night, coming back home from work, I find our son, Noé, wheezing a lot while breathing. When Johanne, my wife, who is subject to asthma, is coming back, her analysis is more alarmist, we need to see a doctor, his breath is short, he’s not breathing properly. We head towards Manipal Hospital as it’s already 8pm and we know it will be easy to see someone at the pediatric emergency department. Once there, everything is going well at the beginning, auscultation, heart beat check and X-ray (we’re used to that, once at the hospital, they don’t hesitate to deploy all the services, as everything is available on the same roof and the more we do, the more we pay as it’s a private hospital). The shock is coming when the doctor check the X-ray. There is a big stain on his lungs, he doesn’t hesitate, it looks like pneumonia, we can’t take the risk, we need to do more checks, we have to give him oxygen… we’ll have to stay tonight and get a room at the hospital… Then, they start taking a blood sample and even put him a cateter, inject directly some antibiotics. All of this happens quite fast and seeing our kid with a cateter on his tiny hand is finishing to make us understanding that something bad is happening. The two following days are spent like every stay in a hospital: we’re just eager to be discharged even if they treat us very well at Manipal. Our son is finally getting again some good saturation of oxygen in his blood after two days and two nights. We’re able to go back home on the second day, beginning of the afternoon, even if we have to go back there three times a day for nebulizations. He wasn’t having pneumonia, “just” some kind of viral infection made worst by some allergy. They’re not sure yet and they tell us it could be a mix of cold-virus-pollution…
Then we’re thinking that, indeed, it’s been a few evenings in a row that the military zone, next to our home is burning some waste and it smells in our place. We were trusting the air purifier in Noé’s bedroom to be enough… When we come back from hospital, we’re finding once again the same problem and we have to go back to the hospital just after three hours. Noé is wheezing again. Finally, everything is back to normal after his evening nebulization. But the doubt is still there. What if all of this was really caused by the pollution? what if Bangalore wasn’t as safe as we thought it was regarding pollution which is increasing throughout India?
I’m reminding these ideas this morning, revived by this article on the nightmare situation of Delhi, by checking the different air quality websites (Air Quality Index and Plume). What if our dream of living in India was now becoming dangerous for our son and for us? We built our life here for more than five years: started our own company which is enabling us to earn a living along with our 20+ employees, co-founding of a French street-food venture, having a strong community of friends and above all, a multi-cultural life-style, comfortable, but with its daily dose of small adventures, at times exhausting, but that we actually love.
I end my morning browsing on Amazon, looking for new air purifiers. We’ll need to setup some more in our different rooms. There are even air purifiers for cars… I check that and then I realize: our car is an old Ambassador, Diesel which is highly polluting. To put an air purifier inside it would be ridiculous.
This is when I finally fully understand that it’s all our life-style and our future dreams for us and India which is at stake and doesn’t really make sense.
I wrote that without thinking too much, just because I needed to write it, right now. We’ll see if those doubts will remain or not in the coming days, weeks and months to come.
update on Sunday 28/01 : I wrote this post on friday morning (26), since then we finished the nebulizations with Noé and he is still breathing properly, so no worries, he’s good. Even if the questions remain of course…