by Salima Nadira
Having only left us for two months, the haze is back; and as citizens of the Southeast Asian region, we all have to find ways to deal with this recurring phenomenon which doesn’t look like it will cease anytime soon (despite Indonesia being in talks to end the haze problem since 2006). According to the NEA website, PSI readings of 50 and below are considered “good” air quality, 51-100 is “moderate” and 101-200 is “unhealthy”. Here are some tips that we might find useful to survive the next few days:
PSI 66-89 (Singapore): The haze is still within the ‘moderate’ range. If you’re going out, don’t bother taking a shower, because the moment you step outside you’ll regret you left the house. Haze particles will settle in your hair and act as a natural hair volumizer, so you can style your hair while waiting for your bus. Don’t bother with the masks, because all the aunties are roughing it out still. You might want to think twice about buying food from outdoor vendors, though.
PSI 92 (Kuala Lumpur): Almost breaching the ‘unhealthy’ range, aunties and concerned citizens alike can find creative ways to cover their noses and mouths while looking glamorous at the same time. Suggestions are: use handkerchief (the lacier the better), or nonchalantly hold a neck scarf to your faces. No-nos: use a medical mask. Since the PSI warning is not high enough, that would just make you look kiasu.
PSI 101-129 (parts of Malacca): Well into ‘unhealthy’ territory, concerned citizens can go all-out now. Bring on the medical masks. Wrap those scarves around your heads like you live in a desert country. Bust out the gas mask you have lying in your storeroom from… that time you wore it to a costume party. Alternatively, just stay at home.
If you happen to be in Jakarta, haze is a lifestyle thing over there now. Residents have become so adept at driving, and even flying, through poor visibility that chances are life will go on as usual. With the low visibility, you might also want to continually check if your personal belongings go missing—it’s hard to see if anything happened through the fog. Don’t worry about looking unglamorous though – everyone will be wearing those medical masks along with you.