Today, for various not particularly interesting reasons, I went out to do a little shopping. This was the first time I’ve been “properly” out to the shops since the week before lockdown.

That’s mid March, folks.

Mid-March.

I’ve been to my local market a couple of times, but otherwise the staff dash out & do the daily veggie shopping, and everything else has been ordered online for months now.

It’s been dull but safe. And Mr. Bezos must be laughing all the way to the bank.

But, as I said, today we ventured out. Properly out.

First stop – FIRST STOP – in 8 months was….???

A bookshop, obviously.

We both wanted books that were not available on Amazon, so Himmat suggested we try the real world for once.

He got his books. (Sadly mine were not available there either).

We bought a few bits and bobs from the food shop opposite the bookshop and that’s when it started.

The lack of social distancing.

People doing that INFURIATING Indian thing of blithely pushing to the head of whatever queue there is and shouting out their order.

The man behind me was doing that other very Indian thing of pushing ever closer to the person in front – that would be me.

And as most people were wearing their masks at half mast, or as chinstraps, I realised I felt uneasy, so stepped out of the queue.

And THAT is the unexpected Coronavirus side effect.

I discovered that I was borderline scared to be amongst people.

And I don’t like that feeling.

Not one little bit.

The old me would’ve challenged the pushers-in and the getting-too-close brigade.

Today I simply stepped away.

I did not want to have to deal with it.

I did not want to have to speak with strangers.

Dry fruits being packed by hand for Diwali gift boxes

Then we went to INA market.

It was awful.

We didn’t go into the market proper, just shopped for dry fruit on the outermost lane, but there were crowds, there was NO social distancing whatsoever, there was no one-way system – and there was way too much chin-strapping.

So I left.

Yet again, I do not like the new me.

Suddenly I can understand how people lose their confidence, and their ability to be amongst people – things I’ve never even thought about before, to be honest.

On a scale of Coronavirus side-effects, I realise this is paltry, truly I do.

But being scared like this is insidious and worrying.

What are we all going to be like whenever we emerge from the other side of his awful virus?

Timorous?

Fearful?

Distrustful?

Perhaps I over-reacted today, but this is a city with scarily rising infection rates. With pollution so vile I feel nauseous all day long. Our health is under siege, there’s no other way of putting it.

Stay safe, friends.

And for Indian friends – please don’t venture into the crowded Diwali markets.

I took a risk today, and it definitely wasn’t worth it.

11 Comments

  1. Jane Binstead

    I can relate to your experience, and John will also. And as you know we’re rural! I can imagine Delhi feeling very difficult. I try hard to maintain social contacts with other people when we’re out walking – smile, say hello – but from a distance. I think that sort of human interaction is important. I also think we’ll gradually
    get more relaxed when we feel we can. I do feel for you with the pollution as well…

    1. Christine

      Jane Binstead we’re all masked up here, so I can’t even smile. Well, I can smile, but it won’t be seen. And I’m the opposite of relaxed here in Delhi. Sadly we are in our 3rd wave, and the numbers are going up every day.

  2. Adita Bhaskar

    Christine…INA..and that too when the city is going crazy?!!? However I do relate to the way you feel. Even when I go for a walk in the park, and someone comes towards me, I step off the path into the verge, just to give a wide berth! And I’m not in Delhi!

  3. I think that you chose the wrong markets for your first outing, both dangerous places. With too many people! I have not stopped going out since the end of the lockdown, but I try to go to less crowded areas. Must confess that I visit Khan Market at least once a f’ night and try and go early when the shops are just opening. Went to Connaught Place today, where the shops are far less crowded. Fab India in Vasant Kunj is good to visit too. Very well sanitised. Stay away from Southex, INA, Aurobindo Market. For book shopping Jorbagh is better. Hardly Anyone there.

    1. christine

      I tend to agree, Brinda. Since we haven’t been out at all, we just didn’t think it through properly & I certainly misjudged the whole compliance thing – shocked how many people were not wearing/chinstrapping. Hated the whole experience.

  4. Anne Dobson

    No it’s not just you – same here in UK – I haven’t been shopping since March. Thankfully people here in rural Staffordshire are more into social distancing – but hate that we step off pavements to avoid each other

      1. Anonymous

        I also hate the fact that people walk round me on the footpath. I stopped to talk to a neighbour today . It was obvious that we were both carefully keeping our distance fron one another. We have become a very cautious race.

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