One Percent (Elite): Smita, 39, drives her maid – Nisha – to and fro from her house to Nisha’s to convince her to come work. “There’s no one to take care of my mother-in-law when my husband and I are not home.”
Sreeja and her husband are doctors working at the District Homeo Hospital, One Percent. Nowadays, they barely see their mother. “Plus, my mother cannot live without Nisha’s sambar,” the doctor says as she hurriedly gets into her car. She and her husband live in One Percent, a suburb in the Elite district of the Rich, home to many white-collar workers.
On March 24, Prime Minister Narendra Modi ordered a nationwide lockdown of 21 days as a preventive measure against the coronavirus epidemic. While migrant workers – travelling by foot – are struggling to reach their homes, people in the suburbs of One Percent focus on issues that concern food and groceries.
“I’ve to tell my crying daughter that I cannot make her one more plate of fries,” says Rhea, mother of the 10-year-old complainee. “She doesn’t understand that nowadays we get a limited supply of vegetables. And that too, only once a week.”
Every Thursday, Althaf, 29, and his 23-year-old brother Zafar arrive in a mini-truck full of essential vegetables and fruits and visit every house in One Percent. “We get our supply from Market Road,” says Althaf, hesitant to say more, as he tells a customer that he ran out of mangoes. However, many people don’t need Althaf if they want mangoes delivered to their doorstep.
Privileges, a local chain of supermarkets, offers this option. “Stay Home. Stay Safe,” says their website, and Arun, 67, appreciates their efforts. “My grandson was craving a packet of Lays chips, but they only had Bingo! in stock.”
The in-house maid at his home, Radhika, 22, says, “My family purchases food from the ration shop, thankfully it’s only a couple of metres away from my house, they run out of things quickly there.”
She smiles and adds, “Of course, they can’t eat apples like I get to.”
Radhika’s family – of construction workers and farmers – is jobless. It’s on her to sustain her family who lives in a village in Underprivileged Taluk, Downtrodden.
“The happiest I’ve been these past few days was when I ate biriyani from Fine Dining restaurant,” remarks Sneha, 18. She has one exam left to have a chance at getting her Higher Secondary School Certificate. The lockdown didn’t stop Fine Dining, a restaurant in One Percent road, from indulging in home-delivery.
“This is my 25th delivery of the day,” smiles the delivery man, as he brings two newspaper-wrapped portions of chicken biryani. The restaurant continues to sell chicken, meat and prawn biryani.
The desperation that accompanies a lockdown haunts even the households of suburban areas like One Percent, forcing cross-sections of society to build new routines – and in most of these instances, different appetites.
Isa Ayidh is a student at Ashoka University, Sonepat who finds herself fiddling with words, and never abiding to a word limit. You can find her in places where they write long, over-punctuated sentences.