City Moment – The Woman in the Anti-Pollution Mask, Khan Market
Love in the time of pollution.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
No Delhiite needs reminding that air pollution levels in the metropolis at times reach emergency levels. We beleaguered citizens no longer think of ‘PM’ only in the context of afternoon hours but also as PM 2.5, an air quality measure to determine pollution. Indeed, the city’s artsy drawing rooms decked up with Madhubani paintings and Thangka appliqués are now decked up with air purifiers as well.
No wonder a kiosk at the fashionable Khan Market does a brisk trade selling expensive filtering face masks that are becoming a part of our daily lives.
As though illustrating the crisis of this new normal, an elegant woman was spotted walking along the Market’s Front Lane one evening wearing a black anti-pollution mask. She sportily agreed to be snapped, turned into the Middle Lane and headed up the stairs leading to a café oftentimes teeming with writers and publishers. There she ordered sweet lime juice and at length removed her mask.
Finishing her drink, the mask was reapplied as she made tracks to the bookstore downstairs, flipping through a book written by our prime minister.
She then walked back to Front Lane, passing another shopper also wearing a mask. A few moments later the woman suddenly ran towards the market’s gate, as though she had recalled something important.
Within the space of minutes the lady disappeared altogether, leaving behind nothing but poisoned air. As though it was nothing more than a bad dream.
A beauty in the smog