Singers Need Good Air!

Written by on in Mumbai
  1. Namaste, Dear Music Lovers,

Today is yet another smoky day in Mumbai.

I hope that wherever you are, there is less air pollution. It almost seems like Los Angeles here (well, in terms of music/audio/film production

facilities, but here in Mumbai we are second to none), if only in terms of crowded roads and hazy horizons. In fact, L.A. and Mumbai are both situated on dry “windward” west-facing seacoasts. Low humidity actually mitigates some of the effects of air pollution, but it also wreaks havoc on sensitive internal throat tissues.

I haven’t begun bundling up like a film diva from Hollywood’s “golden era”

but maybe I should consider a gas mask

or some such heavy-duty breathing canister

for protection in this seemingly endless smog.

Babbaji?—can you please upgrade our aircon? I tire easily from this endless heat.

With roughly so many petrol-powered vehicles, Mumbai is both India’s most populous and most motor-vehicled (~ 25 lakh of them) city.

I love it here and though I’m blessed to work indoors, I feel for those of you working outdoors! Please come to one of our concerts and I’ll send you a smile and a song to ease the woes of these long hot Mumbai days. One imagines that the good cool air in Bollywood theatres is certainly one of the reliable audience attractions, too.

When I was a younger student in Kolkata, the trains were seriously overcrowded. Instead of a trend in Mumbai toward mass transit, we see a proliferation of POVs and many other wheeled vehicles… trucks,

buses, tuk-tuks, and so on. Every tailpipe delivers so much more unchecked pollution in Mumbai. Thank you, economic growth? The increasing number not only grows but its pace of growth is also accelerating. Being one of Mumbai’s inmigrants myself, I’m not pretending that I have any failsafe answers!

Obviously, human behaviours must change, so my friends and family are looking at new, innovative

transport methods—given that public transport can be problematic for various reasons.

Honestly, as a playback singer I’m not super-famous to the extent that I’m overtaken by hordes of screaming fans like the movie stars who picturise my vocals.

However, no one wants to spend hours on buses among sweaty guys going to work as manual laborers in construction and home. I respect their work and privacy, please don’t misconstrue my point with this! I’m just dreaming of friendlier skies and a break from smog.

We singers aren’t all “prima donnas” too special to mix with other workers or too fragile to be among the sweaty guys. Actually my resistance is good from so much travel in various vehicles (including high-altitude airplanes, which are said to have some of the unhealthiest air of all). I would like to avoid pathogens, and at home, about the only solution is some form of well-planned and well-maintained air conditioning. In Mumbai, it’s a must! Thankfully, we often get a light sea breeze here, so the humid heat is relatively tolerable (compared to Kolkata).

I won’t pretend to have all of the answers to the smoky air dilemma, and unfortunately traditional

funeral pyres aren’t going away here any time soon.

So my thesis in this post: singers need to protect their (our) voices.

Here are a few suggestions:

Air filters, purifiers,de-humidifiers, ionisers, coolers, aircon units

and in a pinch, fans of every type.

Don’t let the smoke ruin your eyes or sleep. If you see me wearing my spectacles a little more often, please forgive the funky look. Contact lenses are very uncomfortable in smoky air, and hence not my go-to vision fix. I love to read, so I suppose these ugly old glasses will have to suffice when the weather is like this! Don’t worry, Maa; I usually remove them for close-ups and TV appearances. So, my theory is that if Madhuri-ji, SRK and other

leading film faves can sport specs, I can endure

them occasionally too. Contacts are so easily lost and painful, anyway. Surely those of you who’ve tried them understand. My vision is good enough for self-defense and lyrics anyway, lol.

I wish you the best of clean air, great water, time with loved ones, enjoyable travel (visiting us here in Bollywood, for example, or touring beautiful rural India).




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