I settle into the couch with a cup of coffee and a few biscuits on a tray, groggy after the post-lunch nap. As I bend to dip the first biscuit into my coffee, a monstrous sound emerges in the distance setting ripples in the cup. This is followed by an almost instantaneous yell by my family members who make a frantic run to bolt the doors and windows to protect us from the intruders.
No! I am not crying for help in the hinterlands of a warzone. In fact this is about a daily ritual in the month of December in our very own Singaara Chennai. The other thing December in Chennai is known for – apart from the kacheri season – the blood-thirsty, savage parasites leaving no square-inch or dirty corner of the city, the mosquitoes.
The city corporation leaves no stone (or rather no bucket or tyre) unturned in its battle against these vengeful mosquitoes. It has also been conducting awareness programs for the treatment of diseases like dengue and chikungunya. Their flagship program is however, the daily spraying of insecticide and the fogging operations.
For those who are unaware, fogging refers to the humble household term for spraying ‘kosu-marundhu’. The insecticide used in the mosquito fogging is a synthetic pyrethroid that is very similar to the insecticides used in most domestic insect spray cans. The ‘fog’ is created by passing a high pressure mixture of the insecticide and water through the fogging machine.
However, every evening it is a challenge when deciding whether to keep the doors and windows open and allow ourselves to suffocate along with the mosquitoes, or rather, shut the door to live in a happy world with these parasitic pets. And the challenge is real. Nobody wants to inhale the fog and set their respiratory tract on fire.
For those of you who are still confused, here it is. It is best to leave the doors and windows of your house open. The amount of insecticide in the fog is very small, and is dispersed at quantities that can only kill something as small as a mosquito. So, at the concentrations used there will be no adverse health effects on people who are exposed to the fog. This way, all the mosquitoes that found their way into your home are killed. The fog is prepared as per guidelines laid out by the World Health Organization. So you can be sure that nobody out there is preparing to cause a mass gas homicide.