The volume of green canopy, covering a large area of land, makes the district park different from the parks in the residential area. The hue and scent of the park changes with the the changing season. In summer the neem trees are bright and full of life. In rainy season the park become greener as the dust from the foliage is washed away by the rain and the grass grows taller. Now the autumn is here and the trees circulate the cool breeze with a tinge of perfume of their flowers.
I associate the autumn season in Delhi with the ‘Saptaparni’ tree (Alstonia scholaris) also called White Cheesewood, Milkwood Pine, Blackboard Tree and Devil’s Tree. Residential areas have blackboard tree lined on either side of the road. While passing through the roads in the evenings, the cool breeze scented with the strong, sweet smell of the blackboard flowers, soothes the mind. The beautiful smell is a pleasant companion for the festive fervor that is associated with October/November months.
According to records, the saptaparni was brought from the Himalayas and planted in residential areas in Delhi in the 1940’s. A tree that grows more than 30m in the himalayan forest has a stunted growth in Delhi.
In some places the saptaparni tree is also known as devil’s tree. There is a superstition that witches reside on the tree; and the enticing smell is used by the witch to woo passerby’s, so that she can drink their blood.
For me the saptaparni is a natural air freshener that sweetens the atmosphere in the bright and colourful festive season of Diwali and Dusshera. The saptaparni also heralds the coming of the winter season, which is the most favourite season of the year for the delhiites.
Pollution in Delhi is not a new topic of discussion. According to World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer, air pollution is a major cause of cancer. Their studies show that pollution in Delhi has high level of life-threatening pollutants. More about lead pollution in Delhi in this post.
That Delhi is a highly polluted city, is well-known, you can know the difference by staying here for sometime. Due to pollution in Delhi people say their food intake is less than half of what they have in the village. Delhiites always say “Nothing is fresh here”. To gain something we should also lose something (Kuch Paane ke liye Kuch Khona Padta Ha). In the village you would not have the income to buy all the fresh things.
The cheapest and the simplest method to gain resistance from pollution in delhi is early morning walk and exercise in the park. Walks will prepare the body and mind to resist the pollutants inhaled during the rest of the day.
In the park there were a few volunteers of alternative medicines distributing flyers and telling walkers about how therapies can heal various diseases. The flyers contained names of diseases like arthritis, osteoporosis, diabetes, BP, Amnesia,……….. These diseases can be summed up under one name – lifestyle diseases. There is no need of medication, these diseases can disappear by adopting corrective measures in lifestyle. We cannot stop pollution in Delhi until the people and authorities work towards the common goal of making Delhi pollution free. Until the pollution in Delhi in eradicated we can remain well armed to fight the menace caused by pollution.
I find no school going kids in the park. Half of the walkers are the elderly; and the rest youth and the middle aged. People become conscious of their health after they develop some kind of diseases.
Many business that promise better health are mushrooming in and around the park. Yoga, pranic medicine, auyrveda, all claim that their treatments are good to gain resistance, and cure, from diseases. Tell the herbal juice wala what kind of disease you have and he makes the right concoction for you ‘a glass of juice for arthritis please’. As it was weekends there were also camps for free medical check up.
It will be a great blessing for the health of the city, if children put in the habit of running and exercising in parks. They will benefit in two ways. Firstly children, who are the largest victims of air pollution diseases like asthma, will gain resistant. Secondly, if children inculcate the habit of walking they will be conscious about their health for lifelong.
For the health of the City – Say ‘No’ to pollution in delhi ! Say ‘Yes’ to walking and exercise!