Friday, October 28, 2011

Deepavali Crackers and My Chat With "Modern" Neighbours

It's that time of the year. The magical, noisy, colourful, pampering & jolly-jolly Deepavali or Diwali. After 3 days of magical fun with lights, sweets, crackers and prayers, met a few neighbours this morning.

Me: Hey.. Happy Deepavali, belated wishes.

Group: Same to you.

Me: Did you have a great time?

Group: Ok.. Hate the pollution & noise though..

Me: Yeah.. once a year. But see how many kids and adults had a blast!

Group: Why should people bother others for their enjoyment?

Children enjoying Diwali fireworks: {Source: The Hindu}
Me: Hmn... I said, it's once a year, for a few hours. Did you see the happy faces enjoying the bright flowerpots? How sparkling their eyes were seeing those sparklers? How thrilled the adults lighting those 100-walas? How majestic the evening sky was with bursting rockets 360 degrees?

Group: Enjoyment is fine.. but too much pollution and waste of money.

Me: But whose money is that? Whose enjoyment is that? As long as people spend their money, on their enjoyment, within legal means, what's your problem? If they violate stipulated rules like don't burn crackers late night, then I agree, we should voice against violations.

Group: But how do you justify the pollution? Do people have to fire crackers to enjoy? Can't they enjoy other way?
Bright colours on Bengaluru skies; Deepavali night; {Source: Inspions}

Me: To each his/her own.. Who are we to say "this" is the only way to enjoy? Let me ask you.. do you have a car?

Group: Yes.

Me: Do you have A/C at office, home and car?

Group: Yes. So what?

Me: Do you know that the CFC from Air conditioners are one of the worst pollutants on this planet?

Group: C'mon.. not as much as Deepavali crackers.

Me: Please do some research. Air conditioners for 200-250 days that you use, are 1000s of times more polluting the Earth than these hapless 3-4 hours of cracker time on Deepavali evenings.

Group: But AC is necessary, unlike these crackers.

Me: Who said? That's for you right. When you can afford an AC with your money, doesn't it sound ridiculous if I tell you not to "enjoy" the AC? Let me ask you. Do you enjoy meat like Mutton, Pork or Beef?

Group: Yeah.

Me: Do you know that meat production industry is one of the worst pollutants of this planet? I can provide UN & other studies which show that water, soil and atmosphere are heavily polluted throughout the year by meat industry. What if I tell you not to "enjoy" your meat, like you are preaching for crackers?

Group: But that's nonsense. We eat the food. You don't eat the crackers.

Me: But you can eat far lesser polluting sources of food too.. moreover, Air conditioning and refrigeration are  merely some luxuries afforded by a few, severely harming the atmosphere. What if the billions who can't afford them tell you to stop using ACs & fridges? U/V radiation is increasing due to Ozone layer puncture, precisely due to harmful CFCs.

Group: But what's your point?

Me: My point is, "pollution" is in the eyes of the beholder. I have never seen you strongly objecting to Bakrid or other festivals wherein animals are slaughtered on the streets, with blood polluting the drains & streets causing major health hazards. I have never seen you strongly protesting cutting of millions of trees for Christmas, not to add the massive power usage to decorate them. Have you ever protested strongly the loudspeaker induced noise pollution 5 times a day, 365 days a year, particularly the ones which blare before the permitted legal time of 6 AM? Why pick only on Diwali? Is picking up on Hindu festivals & customs a matter of 'modernity' in today's India?

Group: You are mixing up things. You can see the pollution dude. Check the air quality on Diwali evening.

Me: Precisely. I know there is an increased level of pollution. But that's for a few hours in a year. There are 8760 hours in a year and maybe this pollution is for 10-20 hours. Make it 50 hours in the worst case. But what about the severe pollution that a few rich & upper middle class guys cause throughout the world, most of the 8760 hours of the year? There are clear options to avoid all those major pollution. Take mass transit, cut the vehicle pollution. Use fans, cut CFC pollution caused by ACs where you can. Take a cycle or walk, cut that car pollution. Eat more environmentally healthy food which is less damaging the environment. Speak up against cutting of millions of animals on streets illegally or cutting of precious oxygen producing trees from forest for non-Hindu festivals too, if you consider yourself balanced. Protest against political parties bursting noisy crackers when someone wins or someone's birthday happens. I can go on... but..


Me: Precisely.. that's what I said yesterday firing my rockets from the terrace, to the ads preaching not to burn crackers :) Take care..and Happy Diwali again.. Next year, make it a point to watch for more colourful rockets from that terrace.. yeah.. that corner where I live :)