Archive for April, 2012

What I do :)

15th April 2012
During Avrudu, I was lucky enough to observe the Sri Lankan New Year customs and delicacies with Sri Lankan families themselves. During one such gathering, a small girl came to me and asked me what I was doing here. Her bad English and my bad Sinhala were not going very well; nevertheless I was trying to explain what I do here. But one cannot get technical with a 6 year old girl and say all those hi-fi words Air Quality management and Vehicle Emission Testing and stuff now, can we? So, I said that I clean air. “Clean Air?”, she mused, eyes big. I could see her wrinkling her nose. Maybe she was having visions of me taking a broom and dusting off air. “Why?” came the next question. I could have said “You’ll understand when you grow up” a phrase all of us have heard many times while growing up, but I didn’t want to. So, this is how I tried explaining, as simply as I could manage:

“Air is invisible. We cannot see air, but we can fill it. It is like a blanket, wrapping us moving here and there. We breathe it in and we breathe it out from our nose. Even other animals do, some through their skin. Plants also breathe through their leaves. We, humans breathe in about 700,000 cubic inches of air everyday but with Industrialization, transport and rapid motorization and other anthropogenic causes; we are polluting air and pumping more toxic into it; through stacks of industries, through tailpipes and at a certain level through our stoves as well.” There, she winkled her nose again. Then, I had to say “When we cook, smoke comes out, when we ride a car, smoke comes out, when we have big factories smoke comes out. But these smokes remain in our air. They don’t belong in air but they remain there for a long time. These toxics we have added to air, and are still adding will also be breathed by our lungs, processed in our body and will pose serious health hazards to us, humans along with other living beings because they are like small small toxic, poisons, they make you sick in the end and also cause environmental complications; which can effect local air quality as well as contribute in global climate change. So, it’s a bad thing. Not good for you, me or you dog. Bad for your garden and bad for other countries like America too.” “What about Uk? My uncle is there?” she asked. “Yes, bad for UK as well”, I said, trying hard to suppress a smile. Continue reading