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Surviving Winters in Smoggypat

Edited by: Maya M. Haidar (UG 20)

I have lived most of my life in an extremely humid and (apologies for the usage of this word) moist climate, where there were only two seasons: summer and monsoon. As a naïve eighteen year old who had never really experienced winter before, I had so many expectations when I moved to Delhi NCR: cold mornings with a warm cup of coffee outside, strolling through campus in the middle of the night in cozy winter coats, and lying on the grass when the sun finally came out. 

Photo by Alex on Unsplash

But alas! My dreams all came crashing down when November began. As the numbers began to drop on the thermometer, so did the quality of air. Instead of my ideal winter wonderland, what I got was toxic air and a pollution mask.

Photo by Natasha Kasim on Unsplash

Smog, a silent, steady choker. To anyone who doesn’t know, smog is a portmanteau of the words smoke and fog. As its etymology suggests, smog is smoke and dust particles that settle around the ground with the winter fog. It reduces visibility, makes your nose and eyes itch, and probably increases your chances of getting lung cancer. What causes it, one may ask? Well, there is actually a list of things that do so, including stubble burning in villages, the emissions from automobiles in Delhi, and of course, the many, many crackers that are burst during the huge Diwali celebrations everywhere in North India.

A distorted afternoon on campus, captured on my phone

Since we Ashokans have no choice but to endure the torments these Delhi winters throw at us, here is a practical list of things (that don’t include moving out) you can do to protect yourself during these smog filled days.

  1. Wear a Mask:

Yes, you’ve heard it a million times. You’ve heard it from your mom, your RA, and your cat. Wearing a good pollution mask is important. Yes, I know masks are stuffy and uncomfortable, but so is dying before the age of thirty. The right pollution mask can greatly help in protecting your internal sponge machines from fizzing out too fast. Besides, when you wear a mask, people won’t recognize you when you walk back to your dorm with three party packs of chips.

  1. Get that Vitamin C:

Lemons are your best friend. Get a lot of it in your system. Vitamin C helps prevent you from falling sick, and it tastes great, so why not? Lemonade, lemon teas, citrus fruits are all easily available on campus, so load yourself up with these. If you’re feeling adventurous, my friends and I do this thing called a ‘lemon shot’, where we mix lime juice and salt in a spoon and drink it like it’s a dose of cough syrup. Doesn’t sound all that nice when you hear what it is, but trust me, lemon shots will soon be a habit.

  1. Cover up as much as you can:

A lesser known fact about smog is that prolonged skin exposure to it can cause severe irritations such as eczema, acne and rashes. Although this isn’t going to prevent exposure completely, try to keep as much of your skin underneath warm layers. Be an onion for a few months so that when winter has finally passed, you can go back to little black dresses and off-shoulder tops. If you’re dealing with dryness, a go to remedy is coconut oil. My routine is usually coconut oil-shower-moisturizer. 

  1. Stay Indoors!

Honestly, this is just a bonus. Who doesn’t want to snuggle under their blanket on a chilly day with a cup of hot chocolate? Of course, you still have to attend your classes, but other than that, minimize your time spent outdoors. Joggers do your morning jogs in the gym, and you crocodiles that go bask in the sun every evening put aside your amphibian behaviour for just a little while. The more you stay indoors, the more Netflix you watch and the less polluted air you breathe! Two birds with one stone!

  Of course, you may already be doing all of these things, and still feel awful because you can’t be perfect all the time. Or, you may be you might be the kind of rebel who thinks it’s cool to just not do any of these things, and to that, let me be the one to tell you, your mom wouldn’t approve. I rest my case. 

If you’re reading this years after 2019, I hope this article is no longer relevant and that you’re living in a greener, cleaner, healthier world.


Feminist//Writer//Decent human being
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