Checklist for queue outside supermarket: Mask, safe distance and hand sanitiser
In Versova, a seaside suburb of upper-middle-class housing societies and cafés usually full of Bollywood strugglers, the large DMart is now where everyone’s headed.
There are only 40 shoppers in the multi-aisle department store at a time. Usually, there’s barely a moment’s pause for the 45 staff members on duty per shift. Now, the carts sit in their rows, and a line waits outside, to be let in ten at a time, for every ten that leave; a squish of sanitiser on each hand before they start to touch what’s on the shelves.
The staff uniform now includes mask and gloves. You’re not allowed in without a mask either. One attendant has been given a megaphone and stands outside, reminding people to stay 10 ft apart.
Most shoppers head straight for the rice, flour and pulses aisle. “Any more atta?” says one. No more 1-kg; only 5-kg packs, says a staffer. Informal rationing is in place. Shoppers are allowed only one 5-kg bag of rice, dal and flour each, and a 5-litre jar of oil. What if people from the same household come in and checks rations out separately? “Then they do,” says a store supervisor. “We can’t help that.” Not everyone is happy or co-operative about the cap. One customer is yelling; he has a big family at home; he will need more cooking oil. The staffers walk inside with him to see what they can do.
Biscuits, instant noodles, chewda and other ready foods are sliding off the shelves. “We’ve been getting regular stocks,” says a staffer. “But we’re running out of milk, because the supply hasn’t come in today.”
They’re usually supplied with milk twice a day.
The supermarket has been keeping to its regular timings — 8 am to 11 pm. Most of the people here on a Thursday afternoon seem used to the drill already. “We’ve stocked up on all the necessities. I just stepped out today to get biscuits and chips for my two kids,” says Leena Das, 35.
Nadia, 35, had taken a break from her job at a nearby eye hospital to pick up some toiletries. “I can’t get my regular brands, but I managed to shop,” she said.