A few months ago, when the numbers had really dropped, we started visiting the markets again, but with caution. The first place I went was a salon after almost a year of hiatus. That too, after asking a friend, who is a salon guru, about Covid-19 safety protocols. As stated, I requested a haircut with sanitization of every instrument, including the chair, before sitting on it, keeping my mask on. After seeing my hair which my daughter had happily combed through with scissors whenever she was bored, the hairdresser dubiously asked “kahan se katna hai”? I told him to mow it evenly so odd bits don’t stick out here and there. With these vague instructions, he hesitantly set to work. Nonetheless, I emerged smelling like the salon and sporting a freshly gelled look. Upon arriving home, our disinfection expert – husband – had turned on the geyser and steamer and the gelled look was quickly a memory.
Reluctant to visit the markets, the husband only did so when it was unavoidable. And, a laptop repair touted as the one with the keyboard refusing to type a few letters for quite a while. The other day a friend introduced him to a nearby computer repair shop and my husband got to work. The keyboard had to be open for this purpose and I never heard the end of prosperity from the underside of my keyboard! He seemed to have had more breakfast than me with leftover bread crumbs providing an embarrassing trail of evidence. No wonder with such a thriving food belly, some keys were hesitant to move! Embarrassed by its condition, he refused to admit it was his wife’s active laptop, claiming instead that he had recently found it in the store!
He actually seems to dig up a lot in his transformation into an enthusiastic online shopper from a cynic who preferred traveling long distances to online transactions. The last year has instilled in him a confidence in online mechanics as they have also become more robust. There’s an economy of movement not just avoiding markets, but even moving to switchboard from bed… see a remote-controlled fan and yes, Alexa – favorite roommate! It looks more like a windmill and is the crowning glory of our house. The bhaiya to install the fan also came through an online application. A special fan cleaner with a long handle was also purchased for this special fan, which he wielded in a family video, instantly getting orders for it. No more scrambling up makeshift ladders or stools above beds to wipe dust off that glorious fan blade with a ganda kapda!
Oh! How could I forget being greeted by the incongruous sight of goldfish and finches as toilet seat covers every time we go to the bathroom? They seemed more reminiscent of Darwin’s theory than the current activity. It almost felt like an invasion of privacy until they were overshadowed by soulful sunsets. Every time we had visitors they were given the obligatory ‘house tour’ which basically meant going straight from the living room to the toilet for ‘toilet tourism’!
Even vegetables and fruits come via online apps. He now spends time every day on his phone like Alladin ka Chiraag, ordering offbeat items that would otherwise have had to lie around in the heat and dust. He then eagerly awaits their delivery as if they were birthday presents, with shy smiles emerging like a naughty boy caught red-handed each time security announces the delivery.
The merging of the online and offline world definitely seems here to stay, given how easy it is to access and save time! The bazaar experience seems to have shifted from the physical experience evoked so beautifully by the rich sensory imagery of Sarojini Naidu’s poem, The Bazaars of Hyderabad, to a more virtual one.
The opinions expressed above are those of the author.
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