Just wear your damn mask!

Just wear your damn mask!

At the weekend, here in Delhi where I live, the government announced that they would start fining people for not wearing a mask in public.

Rs500 a pop.

Like so:

We are in the middle of a dreadful health crisis in Delhi, with frightening projections of how the Coronavirus pandemic may increase and spread in the coming weeks.

Experts the world over, all agree that wearing of a mask in public is an important step in cutting down transmission.

Whether or not one agrees with this theory is irrelevant – well, unless you are the Prime Minister or President of a country, and then you can make the decision for everyone else.

Failing that, whatever you might/might not feel about the usefulness of wearing/not wearing a mask is totally irrelevant.

If the law says we have to wear masks – we wear them.

Ever since lockdown was eased in Delhi, & we have been allowed out to exercise, I’ve been going for a run in my local parks. Wearing a mask at first, and then, after just one day, a bandana.

Like so:

It is neither pleasant nor easy to wear a mask, let alone run in one.

But it is what we have to do.

It is hot.

It is uncomfortable.

It is difficult to breathe.

But it is what we have to do, both to protect ourselves and to protect others.

When I run, I wear a bandana, with which I cover my nose & mouth whenever I am in the vicinity of other people.

Every time.

It is a constant routine of up & down & up & down – and then, oh joy! – when the track is empty ahead of me, I can run with it pulled down for a few minutes. As soon as someone comes into view, up it goes.

That is how many other walkers and runners operate, and as people approach on the track, you can see everyone covering up.

As we should. Up and down and up and down we all go with the mask/the hanky/the bandana/the dupatta.

I am shocked, though, how many people in my local park are STILL not wearing a mask.

I decided to try and calculate what percentage of people don’t wear a mask in the park, which I visit twice a day – early morning solo run and an evening walk with my husband.

Almost as a game, a mental challenge, I count the number of people I pass and note the numbers not wearing masks. And it’s actually pretty depressing.

9/35 (ie 9 not wearing) 23/45 15/51 10/35 16/57 15/75

The last figure – 15/75 – was from my run this morning. And of those 15, 3 were runners.

There were 6 people running in the park this morning.

Yours truly, running slowly, up-and-down-ing her bandana as she went.

A lovely man and his young son, whom I meet every morning, who both had masks on as they ran past. We shouted out muffled “Good mornings” as we do every morning.

And then there were the other 3.

All fast runners as it happens, shooting past without even a mask hanging round their necks or in their hands, so they clearly had no intention of up-and-down-ing the way everyone else does.


Well, I suppose I already know the answer.

Because it is hot.

Because it is uncomfortable.

Because they were running fast and a mask would interfere.

But what the heck?!

These are abnormal, dangerous times, and it is incumbent on us all to protect ourselves and other people.

No one enjoys wearing it, but we must and should.

And tough if you end up running a little slower.



  1. Interesting, though, Christine. 1 out of 500 here in Switzerland wears a mask, if that. Hard to know who to believe. Our federal government only ‘recommends’ it if in crowded places where 1.5 m distance can’t be kept. Even on trains (mind you, ours are nothing like Indian trains) you only see the rare one. Our cases have almost disappeared. Very confusing.

    Annemarie Barnes
    1. Thanks, as ever, my friend. Here we are supposed to wear masks. This morning’s tally in the park was 24/61. That’s a crazy high % of people not following the rules. Many runners amongst those flouting…

      Christine Pemberton
    1. My husband is the same, Sunalini…It’s difficult to know who to believe/what to believe, but overwhelming evidence seems to point to the fact that wearing a mask does help prevent the virus. Do you wear a mask with a valve, to make it easier to breathe?

      Christine Pemberton
      1. Christine Pemberton I’m wearing a cloth mask these days. Find it the easiest to breathe. And when I find it difficult I pull it down so it covers the mouth still

        Sunalini Mathew
    1. Me too, Sonam Taneja. But the rules say we should…and I guess if we are running past other people, we can potentially risk infecting them…the whole thing is just so horrid & confusing. Much as I dislike wearing a mask, I’ll stick with it, for as long as its proven to be a good idea.

      Christine Pemberton
      1. Christine Pemberton Are you able to run with a mask on? Which one do you use? I use a cloth one (single layer), more than anything, my specs get fogged with my own breath. silly problem.

        Sonam Taneja
        1. Sonam Taneja I wear a bandana, and pull it up & down, as & when I pass people. Not ideal, but between specs & headphones I find the mask with straps is just too much

  2. These day I run solo and early morning to avoid crowd and always I keep my bandana on my neck if I am crossing over some one or vice verse I pull up my mask immediately and the again bring it down once I am at a sufficient distance . I know wearing mask all the times is recommended I am able to breathe properly with masks so keep doing it up and down based on my proximity to others !

    Gaurav Rawat

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