On Tuesday, I stepped out of my home for only the second time in the first week of the current 21-day, all-India lockdown imposed by the government to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
This time, I found that the usually lively city of Mumbai (which I proudly call home) had something different to offer - something heartwarming...
My early morning plan got disrupted when I heard from a friend that the police had gotten strict on the movement of civilians, and so I decided instead to go in the evening.
Leaving home at 4pm, I was reminded that essential services are still going on when I set sight on a truck full of LPG gas cylinders.
My first stop was at an ATM, which was next to a medical store.
Mumbai Central railway station, usually a major hub for local trains, was closed as well.
It was strange to find this mall closed. Although I haven’t been a regular here, I do have memories from when this place was called “Cross roads” and that still puts a smile on my face.
McDonald's was open, but only for takeaways, and it was surrounded by Zomato and Swiggy delivery personnel.
After another 2-3 mins drive, I arrived at Nature’s Basket which is located at Breach Candy. There were people queuing outside the store at a metre’s distance from one another.
I couldn’t get everything I wanted, so I headed to Reliance Fresh right next door. Even here, a lot of the snacks and biscuits sections were empty.
Across the road is the famous Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, which is serving society by arranging food distribution for the poor.
Uday Krishna Lad, a resident of the locality and a volunteer, said the project aimed to reach 1,500 people with packets containing 4kgs of rice, and 1kg of dal.
On my way back home I witnessed a lady packing several large containers of cooked food in the trunk of her car. She told me she was “feeding the stray cats and dogs around the place” and didn’t want me to click pictures.
I encountered several checkpoints (each a short distance from the last) where I was stopped by police who enquired about the purpose of my being outside, and where I was headed to.
Taxis weren't working, but some BEST (public) buses were operational.
Another thing worth mentioning is that many of the city's billboards have been taken over by government to create awareness of Covid-19.
Independent fruit and vegetable vendors were still working on the streets, though customers were required to keep a distance from each other.
I have never seen Mumbai so deserted before, but it was heartwarming to see people come out and extend a helping hand to others.
As well as the major supermarkets, there were independent fruit and vegetable vendors on the streets. The police were polite as well in their handling of the public, at least in my experience.
What is the situation in your city? How has your quarantine been?