With a population of 17 million, Delhi boasts the unenviable reputation of world’s most polluted city, the label once allotted to Mexico City. The smog, an acrid layer of airborne sludge, blankets the city for miles. Amazing to consider its choice for the 2010 Commonwealth Games. Hardly conducive to record setting.
Everything about India steals the breath. Billowing black clouds of diesel fumes blast the faces of road occupants and side liners. None are exempt. Rickshaw riders, drivers and pedestrians consume gob loads of the stuff.
Aging men squat silently along garbage strewn pavements, immune to the lung-junk settling deep inside. Scooters heralding entire families maneuver skillfully, wedged within the throngs, careful not to dislodge the babe held perilously in a mother’s arms, sidesaddle at the rear. No helmets. An early initiation into India’s city life.
Open drains, simmering pots of pungent spices, giant woks of burning oil and masala chai add to the olfactory chaos.
Road side stalls retail the gamut of daily wares. Shampoo to shock absorbers. Each laden with a gritty coating of dust and grime, ready to eat, wear, or take home to loved ones.
And the NOISE!. The incessant din requires a desensitization that the locals have in spades. A cacophony of horns snatch the breath in alarm, again and again and again. Bells, beeps, buzzers, blasts…