The year 2020 has been one hell of a roller coaster ride for all of us. We saw many different industries taking a bad hit due to the covid pandemic, and also witnessed how they fought and overcame this pandemic situation and adjusted to the new normal and began business again in these times with all the restrictions and new rules amidst the pandemic with renewed vigour and strategies.
The travel and hospitality industry were one of the first ones which took a bad hit due to the pandemic and sudden lockdowns that happened in India as well as in other countries. The sudden lockdown forced the temporary shutdown of our favorite street food joints and restaurants left many foodies like me heartbroken. I still remember the day when I last went to Tight House one of my favorite local pubs before the lockdown, never knowing that it would be for one last time for at least next 6-8 months. I still remember visiting the pub with my friend, we sat on our usual table outdoors, we were carrying our masks though we weren’t wearing them in the pub, the distance between the tables in that small pub wasn’t noticeable. It was the day when our Prime Minister for the first time addressed the nation about the threat of Covid and appealed to people to observe a 14 hour voluntary public curfew on 22nd March. Due to initial claims that the virus will slow down during summers ensured us that this would be temporary. We even ended our dinner plan ironically that day by ordering a Corona beer.
After this day, the lockdown and strict restrictions were set in motion in a couple of days. The temporary forced shutdown of our favorite street joints and restaurants made our inner foodie restless and we saw a social media trend of people awakening their inner chef and trying their hands at cooking various cuisines that they craved for since lockdown. We all had put on our little chef hats to try and cook some of the local and international cuisines that we craved for desperately during lockdown. A beverage from South Korea, the Dalgona coffee started trending on social media with everybody getting curious to get a whiff and taste of this whipped coffee. While some were trying their hands at cooking some exotic or fancy cuisines, there were some of us who were rookie and finally took those cooking lessons from our parents that they had been nagging about for a long time. The year 2020 hasn’t been bad if you look at the things that it taught us which enabled us to unlock and witness a new aspect of our personality for many of us.
This year also saw a rise in new small entrepreneurs who rose out of these hard times and pursued their passion of cooking and converted into small business models from the comfort of their own homes. There were many serving good quality home cooked cuisines that we were missing since the restaurants had shutdown like Chinese, Italian, Mughlai, North Indian with some trying to satisfy the sweet toothed ones with tempting homemade desserts and who also helped us to make our Birthdays or Anniversary celebration merrier in this year of fear and distress by baking some wonderful and tasty cakes and other confectionery for us and delivering it at our doorsteps. This year really taught us some valuable entrepreneurship lessons and also gave a chance to those who always wanted to enhance their skills and pursue their passions making a successful business out of it.
Also some food delivery apps did merge with others while some started delivering essentials along with tasty restaurant meals in order to sustain themselves. Food delivery which had reduced drastically in the beginning of the lockdown threatening the income source of many delivery boys that worked for them, tried to sustain themselves through essential commodities delivery. Contactless delivery of commodities and restaurant meals was one of the measures that was followed by them in order to ensure the safe delivery of these tasty meals and other essential commodities. I personally did order my food from these delivery apps from time to time in the past 6 months and they always ensured a hot and healthy safely delivered meal. However, there is one funny incident that I remember with respect to food delivery and the measures we take at home to ensure that the food delivered is definitely safe to eat. I had planned a virtual pizza date with my girlfriend, we both decided to order pizza and have a nice date over the video call,We ordered the pizza at our respective places and mine got delivered later than hers. This was already quite annoying for her as her pizza was getting cold. To top it off finally when my pizza was delivered I decided to take some extra measures like sanitizing the box and sachets of oregano, heating the pizza in the microwave, while my friend was still waiting on the other side slowly losing her patience and me trying to calm her down while going through all the efforts to make my food safe.
However, after a complete analysis of the Covid situation in our country the government began with the process of unlocking. Almost after being 6 months in lockdown the restaurants in my city, Mumbai started opening up with newer set rules and restrictions that had to be followed.
I remember the first time since the unlock when I visited a local pub for lunch with a friend, everything seemed very different. Now you always see one of the staff member sitting outside, not to check your name for reservation but to note your personal details like your name and contact number with your temperature and oxygen levels, only when your temperature and oxygen level is at non-threatening permissible level you are allowed to enter and take a seat. This particular restaurant that I visited had well distanced tables in both AC and non AC sections or what we now call them outdoor or open air sections which are considered safer with the advent of Covid. Since their outdoor section was crowded and after making sure that there is nobody else in there AC section is when we decided to sit there. The table was covered with a thin paperlike sheet which they replaced with a new one after the previous guests left the table. You could also spot hand sanitizer sprays placed on each table. Since we were just the two of us we sat opposite to each other but if you are going with a bigger group some restaurants do ask you to sit on alternate seats hence to maintain the social distancing norm that has been a new normal in this Covid infested world. The glasses and plates were clean and placed in a plastic bag before the food was served to us. It definitely felt safer to visit such a restaurant after experiencing panic for the past 6 months however it still seemed very new and different to us. With the new social distancing norms even when you meet your friends after a very long time you tend to exchange minimum pleasantries sometimes just an handshake followed by sanitizing your hands with a sanitizer or sometimes just a fistbump or elbow bump, this has replaced our usual way of hugging and greeting our friends or close ones. This does not change how we hangout with them and what we share with them later but has surely changed the way of life for us. Outdoor dining has been gaining a lot of popularity this year since the spread of viruses can be quicker in closed spaces or AC rooms.
Now with the pandemic situation slowly and gradually improving, we can hope that this new year 2021 will enable us to enjoy our meals and dining experience more with the new changes that we are slowly adapting too. Also I would like to appeal through this blog that we need to ensure our safety as well as others while enjoying a good meal for which we should not be negligent towards these safety norms which we tend to forget or ignore in the moment of excitement and enjoyment with our friends, family and closed ones.