A few months back, when the numbers had really come down, we started visiting markets again albeit cautiously. The first place I went to was a salon after almost a year-long hiatus. That, too, after asking a friend, who is a salon guru about Covid-19 safety protocols. As instructed, I asked for a haircut with sanitization of each instrument including the chair before I sat on it, keeping my mask on. After seeing my hair that my daughter had happily run through with scissors whenever she was bored, the hairdresser doubtfully asked “kahan se katna hai”? I told him to just mow it evenly so that the odd bits didn’t stand out here and there. With those vague instructions, he doubtfully set to work. Nevertheless, I emerged smelling of salon and wearing a freshly gelled look. Upon reaching home, our sanitization expert – the husband – had the geyser and steamer on and the gelled look soon became a memory.
Reluctant to visit markets, the husband only did so when it was unavoidable. And, a laptop repair featured as that with the keyboard refusing to tap out some letters for a good time. The other day a friend introduced him to a computer repair shop in the vicinity and my husband set off on the task. The keyboard had to be opened for the purpose and I never heard the end of how prosperous the underside of my keyboard was! It seemed to have had more breakfast than me with remnants of bread crumbs providing an embarrassing trail of evidence. No wonder with such a prosperous food belly, some keys were reluctant to move! Embarrassed by the state of it, he refused to own up that it was his wife’s active laptop, instead claiming he had recently unearthed it in the store!
He actually seems to be unearthing a lot of stuff in his transformation into an enthusiastic online shopper from a cynical one who used to prefer travelling long distances to transacting online. Last year instilled in him a faith in online mechanisms as they also became more robust. There is an economy of movement in not only avoiding markets but even in moving to the switchboard from the bed… witness a fan that is controlled by remote and yes, Alexa – the favourite housemate! It looks more like a windmill and is the crowning glory of our house. The bhaiya to install the fan also came via an online app. A special fan cleaner with a long handle was also purchased for this special fan, which he brandished in a family video, instantly getting some orders for it. No more climbing on makeshift ladders or stools on top of beds to wipe the dust from the glorious blades of this fan with a ganda kapda!
Oh! How could I forget being greeted by the incongruous sight of goldfishes and finches as WC seat covers whenever we visited the loo? They seemed more reminiscent of Darwin’s theory than the activity at hand. It almost seemed like an invasion of privacy till they were upstaged by some soulful sunsets. Every time we got visitors, they were given the mandatory ‘house tour’ which essentially meant moving straight from the drawing room to the loos for some ‘toilet tourism’!
Even the veggies and fruits come via online apps. He now spends some time everyday on his phone akin to Alladin ka Chiraag, ordering the offbeat items that would have otherwise required trailing in the heat and dust. He then eagerly awaits their delivery as if they were birthday gifts, with bashful smiles emerging like a naughty boy caught in his act every time the security announces delivery.
The amalgamation of the online and offline world seems to be definitely here to stay, given the ease of accessibility and time saving! The bazaar experience seems to have moved on from the physical experience evoked so beautifully by the rich sensory imagery in Sarojini Naidu’s poem the Bazaars of Hyderabad, to a more virtual one.
Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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