The following is a post on Facebook by Costa Rica Ambassador to India, Marieal Cruz Alavarez, appointed to the post last May and in the past week having to leave the Indian capital after she developed a respiratory illness.
She is the first among the Delhi-based diplomatic community to complain about the New Delhi’s unbreathable air.
The following is not a translation, it is the actual text of the Ambassador’s Facebook post.
I had a dream last night.
In between coughing attacks due to my URI (interesting medical term meaning Upper Respiratory Infection), I dreamt of my first trip to India in 2002.
It’s of no coincidence in that first trip I arrived to the exact same place from where I write this entry today: the green south beautiful Bangalore.
I came to India answering a call from my soul. As a mother of four in those days, I came after a huge let go of my children and my personal particular western known ways. I remember the trip was so long I lost track of the hours and days but came trusting there was something here for me that I had to experience no matter what.
I was raised and born in a country that is paradise on earth. We use 94% renewable energy, we have clean pristine air and mild temperatures throughout the year. We are surrounded by clean oceans and blessed by rainforest and ranges of green mountains.
I grew up taking all this for granted.
My seven children have grown healthy and strong in a peaceful country with no army. My life in Costa Rica has been easy and protected, fresh air every day, clean water and blue skies all the time.
I came to India and I instantly fell in love with this country. I remember walking amongst palm trees in Bangalore in that first trip -levitating from the purest gratitude for the blessing of finally setting my feet in the land of Rishis and saints after many years of spiritual search.
I have visited since every year for 15 years. Found my Gurus in Mysore and my life completely transformed. My family grew and so my blessings. My children healthy and sound from beach trips, mountain hikes and sunshine in the tropics. India was a yearly trip of one month but in each trip the love for this place grew, as only true love does.
My heart was always here when I was back home in Costa Rica. My Gurus pull too hard to resist. I followed the call and learned to love India as I love my homeland.
One heart: two bloods melted.
My quest in Delhi as an ambassador started from a true desire to serve the two countries I love and the dream-finally -come true of living in this sacred land. I came to north India last spring, experienced the hardships of summer with temperatures rising to almost 50 c. I did not give up. My passion for my work here is intense. The connection with colleagues and friends grew organically. My home became a hub for Indians and latinoamericans to meet. A new community blended in joy and mutual respect and today here in the south I miss them all so much.
I left Delhi last week. Left my home, office and friends. I left because my lungs collapsed from the heavy pollution and I was choking to death. I left because I could not breathe anymore- not because I wanted to go. I let go knowing I will eventually go back once the air clears.
The south weather has cleared my lungs and my mind as well. The awareness I have today about the tragic crisis climate change is raw and heavy and it’s bringing it to my nose- literally. I can’t believe there are so many up there who choose to look the other way by simply wearing a useless mask or buying filters that can’t filter levels higher than 900. I can’t believe there are children growing in those levels. I can’t believe my own dear friends are carrying on with their Iives as if nothing was happening.
Poison is happening. Slow death is happening. Cancer, tumors, deadly diseases on the way, all growing inside slowly from PM10 and PM 25 particles I knew nothing about. Headaches, nausea, fatigue and respiratory crisis the only symptoms today but wait…
How would you feel if you smoked 50 cigarettes a day in chain? Imagine a baby, a toddler, a teenager, a young adult.
If there was a flood or an earthquake in Delhi, i am sure authorities would move fast to relieve the tragedy. But since the poisoning is not deadly today, the headlines go out and then die. And everyone stays the same, passively lingering in a stagnant atmosphere that is killing their brains also and won’t let them think sharply and take action.
I fled Delhi because I don’t want to lose my voice. Literally I have lost it also. I came to India for love and I won’t leave India because we don’t drop friends and loved ones when the ship is sinking. We stay out of love and solidarity.
My body could not take the pollution but I will keep working for the environment wherever I am in this magical land. I could choose to go back to my paradise in Costa Rica but i choose to stay. I know amazing people here who are fighting the fight for environment. Those who believe we can live with less and care more about the basic essentials in life: clean air and water, fertile soil to plant organically, sunshine, less stuff and more depth.
Less worry and more pure life.
A good Indian friend of mine, MD, a smart and sensitive man wrote me this today from a commuting metro in Delhi. I think he nailed it, my Indian friends.
One of you speaking for all:
“We have put our hearts to the back and let our minds lead us.
We are able to achieve prosperity in physical comfort and luxury while leading spiritually empty lives.
Depression is rising because the products of our labor are only material and unable to impart goodness to our souls.
You know all this much better than me…”
I don’t know, Maaz. I’m waking up also. I understand now depressed minds can’t think clearly. Material prosperity won’t feed out souls. Toxic air will keep making us sick in heart and body and deplete us until it kills us. Quality of life is a basic human right. It’s obvious and clear air has become unbreathable, not only in India but in many big cities around the world.
High thinking is required, especially by those who hold the reigns of this kingdom called Earth. The bigger the polluter, the greatest their responsibility. And tiny counties like mine can still help but doubling our forests and becoming recyclers of CO2 and the rest of deadly particles.
My inmediate pledge is for clear simple actions that bring 22 million people in Delhi out of depression and numbness and into hope again. It has to start somewhere.
My pledge is also to the international community to stop denial and take urgent national measures to make everyone responsible for the reversing of climate change and its impact in the atmosphere we share.
The higher the polluter, the most expensive the fines -including legal actions and punishment, closing of factories, support to those who pollute to come out of their ignorance through education and incentives for green technologies to balance the damage.
Costa Rica is in India to help not to criticize. As soon as I’m back on my feet i will keep up the work. We are one world and more dense forests in Latinamerica mean less pollution in Asia. We are one humanity and clean air means children playing outdoors, growing happy and strong. Future generations being taken care of by us now because it’s us who polluted their planet on the first place.
India, I am here for you recovering in your green garden city. I will be back in action soon because your beauty can’t wither. You have the knowledge and wisdom from thousands of years and now is when the world needs you the most.
The only way to achieve the mental clarity and calmness to find solutions creatively is to have spiritual awareness and cultivate a spiritual practice. This will be the fertile soil where the seeds of awareness and change will grow strong. The time of simply watching is over.
No water, no air. Desert lands. Droughts. Our species heading to extinction. Tipping points longtime over crossed.~
Mariela is the current Ambassador of Costa Rica to India. She is the mother of 6 sons and one daughter and the happy grandmother of baby Azul, 9 months old. Her family lives in Costa Rica and Germany. Three of her eldest children Hernan, 27: Adriana, 24; and Ariel, 21, have already been to India and in December Gabriel, 20, will visit for the first time.
She is a passionate Ashtangi and also a classical pianist since 7. Her Gurus Krishna Pattabhi Jois and Sharath Jois en Mysore have brought all the blessings to her life. She loves the mountains and rivers and the beach and is learning her first words in Hindi and Kannada.