A Day at the Supermarket

#LockdownDiaries

A week back, I went to Nayantara Supermarket. I had to. And I am glad I did. It gave me an interesting perspective of how beautifully the human mind finds ways to be happy. 

As I said in my previous blog, we unknowingly became dependent on supermarkets. It is not that the local kirana shop is not selling the right stuff. But, supermarkets save time in the sense that you get everything in one place. Starting from toiletry to cosmetics to stationery, it’s all there. However, my recent trip to the supermarket also made me realise that people get more than just stuff in the supermarket. 

I was pleasantly surprised to see that Nayantara had marked circled spots for people to queue-up keeping a one metre distance. I overheard that only 5 to 7 people were being allowed inside at a time. The inside of the supermarket was big enough and those 5 to 7 customers would automatically get spaced out inside. So, social distancing got taken care of that way. Every buyer was expected to finish shopping within 7 minutes so that the next in queue could enter. 

Nayantara Supermarket

I was at spot 21 in the queue. It was to be quite a wait for me to get to even near the door. But I decided to stay as the weather was nice outside and I was enjoying coming out of the house after almost a month. The wait became even more amusing when I started listening to the conversations between other customers in the queue. One guy at the spot behind me, was on the phone. He was telling someone, “It’s okay. Come down. I am at spot 22 and you will reach by then.” I realised he was asking someone to join him in his shopping. He hung up. His phone rang again. This time he told someone, “Yeah, I am sick of this lockdown bro. I asked Upasana (name changed) to meet me at Nayantara. This is a safe excuse she can give to her parents. She obviously can’t say she wants to go and meet her boyfriend, right?” Aha! So, he came to the supermarket to date his girl! I smiled to myself.

A car stopped immediately after entering the entrance gate of the market complex. A tall man got down and joined a lady near the door. I was surprised to see the lady. She was wearing a long flowy sheer gown of peach colour with small red flowers printed scantily. She had a matching wedged high heel on. Her nails were painted and she had a matching purse. She had enough make-up on to go to a party. After a few minutes, she and the tall man entered through the door. I felt she was highly over-dressed for the occasion. 

A girl added to the queue and was 22nd in line. Yes, I moved one circle forward. She was discussing with someone over phone if she should go to the Ezzy Shoppe on the other side instead as the queue was too long at Nayantara. She hung up the phone and left. 

One gentleman two spots ahead of me grumbled something and left. I was happy that the rest of us could move forward unexpectedly. 

The person in front of me seemed to have a case with margins or boundaries. He always kept more space in between him and the person in front of him. It was annoying me a little. Nobody asked him why. Since I was behind him, people must have expected me to ask him to go forward one more spot. But I did not. And we continued.

Usually in Six Mile and Khanapara areas, every time I go out, I come across many familiar faces. We greet and talk and so on. But this time, I didn’t even know if I knew anybody there in the queue. Everyone had their masks on. It was difficult to recognise people. Whoa! What a strange feeling!

Finally, it was my turn to enter. I never felt that excited to enter Nayantara before. It was as if I had won something. I entered, my temperature was taken and some sanitizer was poured generously on my palms. I rubbed my hands together and took a cart. I took out my shopping list from my Alexa app and picked up things one by one at a faster than normal shopping speed. A lady was announcing that customers must finish their shopping within 7 minutes. I thought I will try but I knew I would take 10.

Suddenly I saw the lady in the peach gown. She was still there?! She entered when I was at spot 21. Then I realised that nobody was going to chase me away if I took longer than 10 minutes to shop. What was she doing there for so long?! I wondered. She did not have many things in her cart. So, the probable reason, ‘she had too many things to pick up’, was ruled out. Later I came to the conclusion that, this must have been her outing or chilling out time. She must have been craving to dress up and go somewhere. So, she dressed up and came to the next best available option – the Supermarket. So, she is giving her effort of dressing up the due respect. I get her now. I wished her a good time in my mind.

Mosquito repellent, agarbatti, Lysol, detergent, dishwashing liquid, scotch brite scrub, garbage bag… I picked them all up and went to the next aisle to get some instant noodles. Then I picked up some juice boxes and moved to the next aisle that stored the baking ingredients, ready to eat food and heat and eat food items. 

The baking ingredients section had all the other six customers that were inside the supermarket. I couldn’t help smiling to myself. Everyone was baking during the lockdown including me. Thanks to all the YouTube baking lessons online. Those videos are seeing the light of the day too during this lockdown. Customers were looking for brown sugar, castor sugar, vanilla essence etc. A couple of them picked up microwave cake mix in different flavours. I picked up vanilla essence and a few MTR heat and eat packets too.

A guy was talking over the phone from the groceries aisle. He said, “How do I know which one is mati dali and which one is phola mogu?” (Translation: How do I know which one is broken urad dal and which one is broken moong?). I moved forward in the aisle, hoping he could get the correct stuff. 

I collected everything in my shopping list and went to the billing counter. The cashier said, “It’s eleven thousand two hundred.” My eyes popped out. What? Eleven thousand? I asked myself in my mind. The lockdown has shown its effect at the billing counter for me. I picked up everything that I wanted and everything that I needed to make me feel good. A bunch of dry fruit packets, different flavours of morning cereals, different shades of hair colour, more hand washes and sanitizers and a hamper of cosmetics. I paid the bill gracefully because I knew it was me who went crazy not the cashier. 

With my over-filled shopping trolley and two carry bags on the other hand, I dragged myself home.

It was an amusing trip for me.

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