Locked down, and locked in this Ramzan

There is no harm in missing the old normal, when the month of Ramzan brought these small joys – iftar parties, frenzied night shopping, clothes and trinkets.

Published: 04th May 2021 07:15 AM  |   Last Updated: 04th May 2021 07:15 AM   |  A+A-

Muslim migrants celebrating Eid at a quarantine centre

Muslim migrants celebrating Eid at a quarantine centre. (Photo | EPS)

BENGALURU: This year too, there are no onion samosas, that quintessential Ramzan snack. There is no aash, the wholesome gruel doled out by thousands of litres in mosques. Nor is there any sherbet, or haleem. Samosas and aash go well together, and with a bowl of fruit, make up the typical iftar.

I may be faulted, of course, for missing inane things like samosas, when people are making last-gasp efforts to get hold of oxygen cylinders. But there is no harm in missing the old normal, when the month of Ramzan brought these small joys – iftar parties, frenzied night shopping, clothes and trinkets, and when every little girl’s hand would be adorned with mehndi.

Like last year, this year goes barren too: No piles of the crunchy, deep-fried sinful samosas, no mountains of sevaiyan rolls, no dazzle of sequinned clothes, or flash of bangles. 'Iftar Galli' was long since shut. For us, the fun has gone out of the festive season.

But for the samosa vendor and bangle seller, it’s economic ruin. It is said that Bengaluru gobbles up lakhs of samosas a day, a normal day in Ramzan, that is. The humble samosa may be priced around Rs 10, but sales run into crores of rupees a day.

In fact, it could be called a samosa economy, when onions command premium rates, oil is guzzled by the gallons, and a seller can easily make up to Rs 30,000 in an evening. Oh yes! It is this time of year, besides the Dasara-Deepavali- Christmas months, when the markets of Bengaluru come alive with a new purpose.

It’s every vendor’s dream season, when cash flows free and money exchanges hands with abandon. When garment and footwear stores are packed with shoppers, and tailors sharpen their scissors in anticipation, ready to work into the nights.

It is also the season of largesse - Ramadan Kareem - when the poor queue up for their share of aash and free ration, when clothes are given away, and every shopper has loose cash in the pocket to distribute among the needy.

All locked down, and locked in. The biggest losers are the poor. We have found our alternatives, with online stores and the gig economy coming to our rescue, promising us safety through the festival month. There are poor cousins of samosas available, and some sad versions of haleem.

But we can't complain, not in this season of disease and death. There is festive wear to shop for -- we can check out by enlarging the screen and guesstimating the size -- though it falls far short of the real experience. The touch-and-feel economy is dead for now, the one with a heart.


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