As Mumbai and Delhi exceed pollution limits, I realise there is a master plan behind all this: That even as we teach the world, through different modules and methods, meditation, yoga and a host of other techniques, now our leaders want every citizen to excel at what we teach the world outside:

"Hold your breath!" says the desi instructor in New York as he shows his breath control.

 “Where did you learn such control?” his students ask, and his mind goes to his childhood: "Hold your breath!" whispers his mother as he goes to school and both mother and son hold their breath, till they safely pass the rotting garbage dump.

"Don't breathe!" I tell myself as I see the dead carcass of a crow lying next to ten sweepers enjoying their morning cup of tea. "Don't breathe!" I tell myself again as I pass the same rotting crow next morning and as one of the sweepers waves to me as I stare at the dead bird.

The third day I let out a sigh of relief but quickly hold on to my remaining breath as I see the dead bird with innards exposed dragged a few feet into a bush, but alas still emitting a telltale smell.

This time, all the sweepers wave to me. I point to the dead crow and all of them look sadly at the sky. Like I said we taught the rest of the world to hold their breath and still continue to hold our own.

My friend calls me from England. "Bob," he said, "I've started breathing exercises and it's amazing! I've got a dozen of you chaps in my class, and you should see them with their …"

"Breath control!" I shout back.

"Yes," he shouts back, "it's a gift!"

"It comes with our atmosphere!" I shout back, even louder.

"You lucky chaps!" he whispers.

And suddenly I understand as today in Mumbai and Delhi the air we breathe gets even more difficult to take in, and the authorities don’t even bother to listen to experts, I suddenly realise they are only teaching us to be the best in the world in ‘controlling our breaths’.

The dead crow or part of it is still lying under the bushes the next day. I hold my breath and pass by, but with a smile on my face.

The sweepers are at their tea. “Now you know why we didn't clean up," they all shout, "so you could learn to control…"

 “My breath..” I complete and nod happily while peeling out a hundred rupee note which I give Bachu, the sweeper with the cleanest broom, "For keeping me…"

"Breathless!" he whispers.

And in the background I hear the voices of municipal commissioners saying sternly, “The whole world is learning from us, yet you locals don’t appreciate our techniques, now hold your breath and learn..!”

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