When the announcement came that the plane was preparing to land, this reporter looked through the window hoping to catch a bird’s-eye view of Delhi. For a while, nothing except a white veil was visible. A few moments passed before trees, fields and tall buildings came into view. But it was still difficult to tell and as the aircraft got closer to the ground, the reporters onboard finally saw what the Delhi smog really is.
It has been on the news for some time but it was still surreal to experience. The whole city, as far as the eye could see, was shrouded in a mix of smoke and fog, with the seasonal stubble burning playing its part.
A Central Pollution Control Board official was quoted in local media as saying that the AQI (Air Quality Index) entered the ‘severe plus’ or ‘emergency’ category late Thursday night.
The burning smell hits your nostrils instantly when you take a whiff of the Delhi air, making it difficult to breathe. A cab driver said: “It has gotten especially bad since Diwali, you know the boom boom patakas (fireworks).
“Not the right time for a tour, even locals are struggling,” he added.
This was the environment in which the Bangladesh cricket team underwent their second day of training yesterday. The Delhi government meanwhile ordered that all schools should stay shut till November 5.
Bangladesh head coach Russell Domingo, who donned a mask to minimise the impact of the smog attack during practice at the Arun Jaitley Stadium yesterday, tried to play down the smog, saying that while not perfect it would be the same for both teams.
Nevertheless, conditions will be difficult for cricket when Bangladesh take on India in the first of three T20Is tomorrow. Luckily, the players will only have to suffer for two more days as the series moves to Rajkot. Mahmudullah Riyad and Co will be hoping that they get something in return for enduring the Delhi smog