I love this time of the year, October, when the merciless Indian summer is finally behind me and glorious, festive days await. I love Delhi in the winter, when you can take the kids to the gardens and have lazy afternoons reading in the sun..
This is what we – three mothers of our car pool – were talking about on the way back from school when the conversation turned to Diwali and crackers. Now, I am of the strong opinion that crackers should be banned, yes, you heard me, banned. Why? well, first, because the industry employs children , something I have issues with, and second, because Delhi on Diwali night is suffocating because of the smoke and I do not think our children need to breathe in any more pollution than they already do – levels far beyond most civilized nations.
In the conversation I kind of made my views clear on the matter and even said that I had a solution, not that anyone was asking me, or, would even follow it, but nevertheless I had, what I thought, was the perfect midway: That you mark a place, an open ground or a stadium or something, where those who want to burst them can come and buy them at the gate, and then burst them inside, but no one can do so at home.
Well, my remark was not liked by one of the mothers, and she proceeded to say that Diwali would not be the same without crackers, a point I understood, since most of us have grown up bursting them at home and we have happy associations with the act. But, my point was, that knowing well that they are made by little children, how can one justify using them? Also, an alarming number of children in Delhi have breathing related ailments largely due to the pollution levels in the air, so, knowing this, how can the mother of a two year old be adamant about bursting crackers.
I stood my ground and she stood hers, shaky as it was. And I, unfortunately, have been blessed with a caustic toungue I have little control over, though in this case I did try as we were part of a car pool, but she irritated me no end by making sillier remarks as the car bumped along the traffic congested roads, like declaring that certain crackers – like anars – are not polluting, so they can be used. How people can justify stuff they like never ceases to amaze me. I bit my tongue but not before I had let out a sardonic laugh, which she noticed but didn’t react to. I didn’t add anything more, because what do you say to someone educated like that who has a closed mind, it requires patience and energy. I had the latter, but not the former, so I let it pass.
What I did say that the school should teach the children to say no to crackers, something she was horrified to hear and imagine. In her mind it was inconceivable that something like this could ever happen, that her little daughter could be brainwashed into believing the right thing!
Agh, I have a good mind to drop this car pool just for that!