2020 will go down in History for reasons known to all of us. In the month of March, I found myself alone in Bangalore once more, as R had travelled to Houston on the 29th Feb and then onward I was more or less following a routine life – home chores , office , events (if any) and back to the pavilion. Suddenly the news channels, newspapers, were abuzz with only one thing – COVID 19.
The week of March starting on the 15th , we received an email from our CEO post which many team members and leads started working from home. I was still going to office as I felt my role needed me to. I stood in the bay and saw people carrying back their desktops to their home. I had never seen such a situation in the past 15 years that I have been working. However, I learnt a lot during those 4 days. On the 5th day I started working from home too.
The following Saturday , I asked for Dinesh our driver who charges by the hour of service and who also helps me in Kannada related situations. I visited the local RTO where my driving license was long pending and that’s where I realized the gravity of the situation. Otherwise this place always used to be a buzzing zone . There were lot of roadside eateries around , however now there were none. 4 police personnel signaled towards the handwritten poster on the ground floor – well, obviously I could not read. They were constantly shooing off anyone who tried entering the building while I realized there were others inside on the 2nd and 3rd floor. Finally I came to realize my work will have to wait. In the meanwhile Dinesh had managed to slip in and check in person – he said that the officials were there , but before the lock-down ended they are not ready to do anything.
I asked him to take the car to Commercial Street, where I had a long pending work. In between I stopped at a garden care place.I love visiting this place and picked up a few new companions.
When I reached Commercial Street , even there I saw the same scene. The shop keepers made the bulk of the population. I realized , this is going to get even stricter and coming out will soon be a thing of the past.
I checked Google Maps , asked Dinesh to head to Hotel Taj. He was taken by surprise , but abided as usual. I reached Shivaji Nagar and saw here life was business as usual. I did not want to be too adventurous, while the shopaholic in my head had already started prompting me.
The 70 year old place was under renovation. I quickly wrapped my dupatta around my face like a mask and expeditiously looked at the handwritten “today’s special”. It was a no-brainer , if you looked around to understand it was the local crowd.
I strongly believe even today – eat where the locals eat. I ordered for a family size mutton biriyani for myself and a single for Dinesh. I also ordered for a kaleja fry. By now , I don’t know why, the person at the counter asked me if I write for the newspaper, which I had to refute. While waiting for the parcel, I had to face the same question once more. I politely explained that I write or talk about my experiences but not in the newspapers , its my own corner and handed over my card. He seemed to nod his head, in a manner when you know the person half understood what you are trying to explain.
Soon after , he said, “would you like to see our kitchen ? Our owner is also there”. Now this is an offer I could not turn down. I had a look at the commercial kitchen. In today’s time I know how difficult it is to run an eatery for more than a year in Bangalore – so 70+ years is definitely not a joke.I hopped into the car triumphantly with my stash , which I believed will last me for a week as it serves 7-8 people. I handed over Dinesh’s parcel to him and smiled at my own folly (the way the French would interpret it and not the English translation) .
On my way back I stopped at Tripti, the local “mishtir dokan” popped a couple of kalakand , packed a few rasogolla and returned home.
Oh, well , I also picked up some groceries , mostly lentils and millets.
All through our school when we were handed over the autograph books , seldom it had a question – what will you do if you realize this is the last day of your life ? or say what are the 3 things you will like to be marooned with ?
I guess I lived those questions in real life scenario that day….