6.30 p.m. April 23.
At Sangeeetha’s in Pattinapakkam, hardly a third of the tables in this recently-renovated and smart-looking restaurant are occupied. In ordinary time, almost all would have been taken.
In 30. minutes, at least seven food delivery men of Zomato and Swiggy flit in – but the packs get delayed and some clients begin to bother these men who take it diplomatically. The delay is due to limited kitchen staff here.
We notice that only two stewards are serving diners now. But doing so diligently. We are told that staff are being rotated and pay softened too. The gloomy scenario set in this week as the pandemic spread.
The delivery men have news to share from the backyards they serve. How four streets in Mylapore have houses with Covid cases and are barricaded. “One apartment in Mandavelipakkam is mostly affected,” says one man.
How do you deliver at such places? Do people tell you that there are Covid cases?
“Yes, they inform us and we leave the food at the gate or with the watchman,” we are told.
Sunday will be total lockdown, even for restaurants. But food delivery is allowed at certain hours – for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
“Demand was there last year during such lockdowns so we hope we will be busy,” says a Zomato man.
At the bills desk, Sangeetha has set up a big can with freshly-made Kabasura Kudineer. It is free for our diners, the cashier says.