Walk into the local market of the posh south Delhi locality of Vasant Vihar and shopkeepers there greet you with a warm smile until you tell them what you want to buy. Unless you are a familiar face, the ‘packet’ is not sold.
It is only when the shopkeeper is convinced of your dire need that the yellow packet is handed over-carefully wrapped in a black plastic bag. The transaction is nothing less than an illegal drug deal experience.
The once easily available two-minute noodle, sold for just Rs 10 is now being sold in certain parts of the Capital for as much as Rs 102. The recent ban on Maggi noodles resulted in Nestle pulling out all its stock from the shelves of stores across the city. Some shops, however, seem to have kept their final batch.
Surprisingly, looking at the soaring demand among loyal buyers, shopkeepers are charging what they feel like for a 75 gram packet of the banned noodles. In fact, not just the prices but also the quantity is controlled. A person cannot buy more than two packets of Maggi in one purchase.
“This batch was not taken from us so instead of just throwing it away we are selling it to people. If people are ready to buy these at whatever price we quote then why throw it away?” a shopkeeper in Vasant Vihar told HT.
He said that he is still left with a few last packets and as the quantity is getting limited the price is automatically going up.
Rashmi Sinha, a 29-year-old graphic designer living in the area, echoes the opinion of many Maggi lovers across the city.
“We have been having Maggi for so many years. I think we are immune to the lead content in it. If adulteration had to stop us from having food in this country then we would starve to death,” Sinha said.
The local grocers of west Delhi’s Janakpuri-C1 are also selling the packets but not over the counter. The orders of packets are taken over the phone and delivered to customers’ doorstep.
“We do not want to get into any trouble and therefore we do not entertain any request for Maggi in our shop. We only take orders and deliver the packets to people we know,” said the shop owner.