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Lockdown relaxations bring little relief to Kamala Nagar

Lockdown relaxations bring little relief to Kamala Nagar

As I walked in the streets of Kamala Nagar yesterday, the first day of lockdown 3.0, I found the experience, though unprecedented, familiar in Delhi—indeed in most parts of the country. Shutters down, near-empty streets, residents sitting in balconies, the many cars parked in the area showing signs of disuse. This didn’t surprise me; this is what happens these days; this is the new normal.

How perspectives change, and how they affect the perception! In a matter of weeks.

A year ago, quietude in this area would have amazed me. Kamala Nagar, one of the biggest markets in north Delhi, always bustles with activity and vivacity—shoppers negotiating their way, college students thronging it (it is adjacent to the main Delhi University campus), cars looking for space to park. The usual scenes in a big market.

No longer. A couple of boys are sitting desultorily at the stairs of parking-cum-shopping complex; earlier it was the central park. It has been like this the whole day, one of them tells me. Lockdown relaxations have had no effect on the market.

<img class="alignnone size-full wp-image-1718" src="https://indianarrative.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/kamla-market-02.jpg" alt="" />

A vendor selling coconut water says the same thing, “All shops will remain closed. This is a commercial area.”

There are red, orange, and green zones, containment areas, hotspots—and now commercial area too? Maybe the guy doesn’t know. However, a group of men lazing around another place also says the same thing.

“No shops are allowed to be opened in the commercial area,” one of them enlightens me. “Kamala Nagar being a commercial area, it will remain shut till the end of the lockdown. Smaller shops in by-lanes are allowed, but not the main market.”

But I did see at least a bakery and a couple of grocery stores on the main road dividing Kamala Nagar with Roop Nagar. Is the main road exempted from the ‘commercial area’ category? Nobody knows.

It’s evening, around 6 p.m. The men are chatting, while keeping distance from each other. “Earlier, till yesterday, this was not possible. Police was patrolling regularly. The implementation of the lockdown has been very strict here. Now, with relaxation between 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., we can step out of our residences.”

But what about food? “That is not a problem,” Kallu, a middle-aged man, tells me. “It is distributed at nearby schools.”

And salaries? The reaction is mixed. One of them says that the workers have got the salary for April, but nobody is sure about May.

At the central parking, I meet a worker, Shravan Kumar, who works at a shop; he lives nearby. “I haven’t got the salary, but my employer has promised to pay when the shop opens.”

When it opens..