Risking Coronavirus Amid Lockdown, Kolkata Rushes To Sweet Shops – NDTV News

Kolkata News

Sweet shops will now be open in Kolkata for four hours a day (Representational)


In Kolkata, dozens of sweet shops opened at noon today after the West Bengal government gave permission to them to operate from 12pm to 4 pm with minimum staff. At least on Day 1, the second part of the order was happily ignored that the shops would open only for take away. Kolkatans poured in to buy their favourite mishti. The first week of the lockdown has been a week too long.

At the Bhawanipore outlet of Balaram Mullick and Radharaman Mullick – sweet makers for the last 140 years – you have to brave dozens of delivery men outside the store to enter. Inside, you will meet a security guard with a bottle of hand sanitizer. Beyond that, at least in the first hour since opening, bedlam.

Delivery men jostled with customers out to grab their first taste of mishti doi in more than a week. Among the customers, a masked senior citizen who declared, “I’m a doctor and I’m diabetic. Everyone in my family wants to have some mishti. This shop has sweets for diabetics too. That’s why I am here.”

But as a doctor did he feel it was safe to step out in the time of the coronavirus? “Well it’s already been a week. It’s too long. If this goes on it will become a terrible situation,” said Dr Debashish Banerjee.

Also senior citizens, Luna and her husband Partha Banerjee had stepped out of home in the neighbourhood to buy vegetables and saw their favourite sweet shop open for business.

“I couldn’t resist the temptation to step in,” said Mr Banerjee. His wife added, “This shop is famous. They are very hygienic. And I’m quite satisfied with the way they are social distancing the customers.”

Indeed the owner of one of the most famous sweet shops in the city, Sudip Mullick, was seen trying to insist on socially distancing customers. Small squares of carpeting were placed at 1m distance from each other in front of the counters for the customers to stand on but it was not an easy task.

But Sudip Mullick believes the government has done the right thing by opening up sweet shops for four hours a day.

“Thousands and thousands of litres of milk were going to waste, milk that the sweet industry buys in bulk. It is a Rs 600 crore industry. Because no one was buying milk, the milk industry was shattered. People who own cattle were not getting any money, they were unable to buy fodder and feed the cattle and there was a risk that in 21 days a large number of cattle would die. After the lockdown, with no milk supply, the sweet industry would collapse,” said Sudip Mallik.

But not all sweet shops are opening up for business. 175-year-old Girish Chandra Dey and Nakur Chandra Dey, another iconic sweet maker in Kolkata is keeping shutters down. Mr P Nandi of the sweet shop chain said, “We are not confident about maintaining social distancing in our factory or shops. So we are not opening yet.”

Sudip Mallik said, “It is not a dictatorship that everyone should open their shops. But, in a way for Bengal, sweets are an essential good.”

Those who at this point are dismissing the Bengalis as not all there, think again. Non Bengali residents of the city also went mishti shopping with a vengeance. “We often have mishti doi from this shop. So when I saw it was open, I stepped in to get some,” said Ayush, in his 20s, who incidentally forgot to wear a mask in his excitement.

Pooja Gupta bought sweets and then stopped to take some selfies.

“Yes, it’s a bit of a risk going out to buy sweets. But for mishti I am willing to take a little risk, we have all really missed it,” she said.

Fingers are crossed that the sweet tooth will not extract an extraordinary price.

Source: https://www.ndtv.com/kolkata-news/risking-coronavirus-amid-lockdown-kolkata-rushes-to-sweet-shops-2203893