Covid set to transform our lifestyle ‘for a long time’
Let’s do a fast forward. The watchman of your favourite eatery that finally opened after months greets you as you alight from your car. But he greets you from a distance and as you come close he subjects you to a rather cold thermal scan!
“Welcome sir, we have intimation of your pre-booked slot,” he tells you from behind his face mask, after dutifully spraying the sanitiser on your hands and clothes.
In no time, your meal is served with masked and gloved waiters hovering around.
On the table, a bottle of sanitiser is a reminder of the mask-sanitiser-social distancing drill that is going to be part of our lives at least till the coronavirus vaccine is ready.
And, yes, no leisurely binging, for sometime at least. Because, you could well be trespassing on someone else’s slot. In any case, the waiter will remind you with, “Sir, 10 minutes left!” type reminder about the arrival of new slot-takers.
Right! So you had ordered some packing too. On your way out, you could collect the parcel which has been passed through a UV (ultra violet) ray chamber to ensure cleanliness!
Seems far-fetched? Well, ask Nittin (he goes by one name), founder and chef Pack-N-Chew restaurant who is getting ready for just such a change.
“It’s clear that post lockdown phase, we are all in for a major change in the way we approach things,” Nittin said, adding the dining out model was set to undergo a metamorphosis.
Many like Nittin are also diversifying into food retail business ostensibly to make up for revenue hit which almost all food businesses are preparing for.
ICONIC EATERIES WAIT FOR GOVT NOD
At least one prominent five star is looking to revive its mobile food truck which it had used during launch, say sources in the hotel industry. Some others are planning to modify existing spaces to introduce pre-sanitisation areas and ensure social distancing.
Not all are poised to change, though. Some, like two prominent bar-restarurants, fearing major dip in revenue, are looking to shut shop.
And owner of many iconic eateries, like Mohd Usman of Tundey Kebabs, say they are staring at an uncertain future. Rahim’s Kulche Naharis and Mubin’s Pasanda kebabs are just as uncertain because the owners of these usually crammed eateries too are looking for directions from the government to resume business.
“We don’t really have a clue so far on how to open up. As of now, we aren’t getting supplies and our workers too have left for their homes. Let’s see what is in store,” said Mohd Usman.
WHAT ABOUT KHOMCHE WALLA!
The food business in Lucknow is huge with nearly 5,000 plus small and big listed restaurants.
This is not to add hundreds of ‘khomche wallas’, the roadside vendors, the local chaat walas who made a living by selling cheaply priced stuff popular among the masses. “It’s not clear if we will be able to do business as before because in our stalls, social distancing isn’t possible. Even if we were to somehow ensure that, then sanitisation issue would come up. And there would be ambiguity on whether or not we can serve anyone turning up with cold,” said Rajat Kumar, a chaat-seller in Chinhat.
The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has already issued a detailed safety and hygiene guidelines for food businesses during Covid-19 pandemic.
These guidelines, among other things, state buffet system should be disallowed. “These services would resume only under directions from concerned authorities,” reads one of the points in the elaborate guideline.
“We aren’t yet sure how we are going to operate. We are waiting for the government to clear the air,” a restaurant owner with a popular buffet service said.
LIFE IN FOR A MAJOR SPIN
Yes! Life is in for a major spin.
The laidback ‘Lakhnawi’ who would engage in friendly banter over smoke rings and endless tea from the neighbourhood chai walla, and those kitty party women who would chatter away their afternoons in restaurants, those carefree gorging on golgappas and those ‘mehfils’ (meetings) where the poetic minded would share poetry sipping the heady brew ... All of it is going to change. Many have already taken to virtual platforms to share poetry, craft and cuisine.
The UP government has in any case banned big meetings till June 30 and it’s increasingly certain that social distancing would be here to stay for a while.
So even a regular walk to your neighbour medical store will change,as ‘over the counter’ sale of regular drugs for fever, cold and cough would be subjected to scrutiny and details.
In fact everything, from gyms to morning walks at favourite parks, are on hold.
Sitting alone in his chamber at the King George’s Medical University (KGMU) Dr Anand Mishra, the head of the department of endocrinology, is engaged in preparing for post corona lockdown phase.
Many of his breast cancer patients whom he had operated upon come to him for regular check-up. However, he hadn’t been able to do that out of their fear of contracting coronavirus infection on travelling down to KGMU.
That’s when he thought of connecting with them virtually.
The first virtual meeting of his breast cancer survivor support group was a hit with patients connecting with him from all over the state. “The practice run was successful. Nearly 50 of my patients, from various parts of the state connected with me to share their developments and concerns. My breast cancer support group also helps in allaying fears of those who may have been freshly diagnosed and fear the worst. So this support group also mentors new patients,” Dr Mishra said.
“Now, hat I tried and it worked, my patients can connect with me virtually. Hence now onwards, I plan to put in place a regular system of virtual screening. This would continue post lockdown for coronavirus isn’t going away anytime soon,” he said.
At the other end of the state capital, Dr Rajat Dikshit, a private medical practitioner with a large patient base, is readying to resume his private clinic in Kasaibada locality near Latouche Road.
He has ordered a face-shield, apron and head cover for himself. He would get his private clinic sanitised daily with sodium hypochlorite and all patients reporting symptoms of high fever, cold and cough would be referred to fever clinic.
“All patients walking in to my clinic would also have to fill up a form giving their basic details, their travel history, if they are symptomatic among other things. There are many patients who aren’t getting advice and treatment and for these patients I have decided to resume clinic but yes, we all have to undertake precautions,” he said.
At Health City, Dr Vaibhav Khanna and his team of doctors have already put in place a regular drill, mandatory screening of all patients for Covid-19 who walk in at the private nursing home.
Sudhir Sharma, who runs the city’s oldest Yoga centre opposite the Hanuman Setu, is busy devising ways to regulate the flow of yoga-learners at his centre.
“We will have all our yogic drills wearing masks. The people will have to come at a pre-booked time slot and maintain social distancing. In pranayaam, the key yogic breathing exercises, masks would have to be done away with. But that we would have in a separate room, with participants sitting opposite each other for the purpose,” he says, adding ‘home delivery’ of yoga would also be promoted.