Dreams of India… Maybe Not

That’s the CBD this morning
Steve and I have been in agreement for some time that if the opportunity comes up (and the boys are old enough to cope) we take the chance and live in India for a couple of years. We reckon it would be AMAZING, and while a lot of that amazing would be amazingly tough, it’d definitely be an experience – and that’s what life is all about we reckon. But this week’s pollution in Singapore is making me wonder if I want to do that?

In 1995, I backpacked for a month across China – heading up from Hong Kong into Canton (now Guangzhou), Shao Shan (Mao Zedong’s birthplace – which was horrible back then), Xi’an, Beijing, Shanghai and then a “cruise” back to Hong Kong – another story. It wasn’t too bad on the pollution front back then, but when I returned to Beijing in 2006 for work, it was shocking. I spent every minute of that trip with poison dripping down the back of my throat, and couldn’t wait to get the hell out. I love Beijing, but the poison in the air is very very disturbing. It isn’t nice knowing that millions of people have to live this way around the world.

Right now in Singapore, the pollution measurement is much worse than Beijing is experiencing today and last night, I went to bed tasting poison dripping down my throat as I tried to sleep. As a parent, it’s not a nice experience watching my boys going through this – because I just don’t know what the impact will be. I’m trying to be all cool about it, but it ain’t terrific. In fact, many families are booking flights and getting the hell out of town until it’s over. We can’t do that right now, but it certainly has merit.

My office is straight ahead – see the trees on the balcony? 
The reality is we’re all OK, but some friends are having a very tough time. One great family we know has a three year old daughter with severe asthma – so far so good, but not a great environment for their little princess. Then some other awesome friends have their elderly mother in town visiting from India. She’s a magnificent lady, but right now, she’s coughing non-stop and I have everything crossed she’s going to be OK. She’s a beauty.

For me it’s the unknown. I’ve never been through anything like this before and no one seems to know how long it’s going to go on for or what “hazardous” really means. The PSI measurement in the last three days has broken records and then broken records again. One friend’s daughter said if it hits 400 we’re all dead. Well it hit 371 today – WAY ABOVE previous haze records, so it’s not nice, not nice at all. However, I was just speaking with a colleague from India and he said don’t worry – “in India we dance in the streets all night during Diwali and the PSI is more than 500.”

So maybe it’s nothing to worry about at all? Just a period of time to get through? I don’t know, but we’ll keep going, living through the haze and in many ways, it seems life continues as normal around me – which is actually helping. In the meantime, I’ll keep watching the news, listening out for PSI alerts and making sure the boys stay inside as much as possible. There doesn’t seem a whole lot else we can do right now…

But living in India, a country of major cities that suffer intense pollution for at least four months of the year over summer – maybe I don’t want to do that after all?

Yours, without the bollocks


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