Shops on Canning street
KOLKATA: As the sun reappeared through the cloud cover, signs of life returned to Kolkata streets on Friday morning. A large number of shutters went up and shops reopened after remaining closed for almost two months. Citizens, too, stepped out after being confined to their homes for almost eight weeks since the lockdown was imposed in March. Several vehicles took to the road. At crossings, like MG Road and Esplanade, pedestrians had to wait for a few minutes before they could cross the road.
Several pockets of the city, however, remained inaccessible due to uprooted trees and lamp posts felled by cyclone Amphan. But, in other parts, there were signs of life limping back to normal. “It feels liberating to step out of the house after almost eight weeks. I had forgotten how it felt to see so many people together on the streets,” said Sanjay Upadhyaya, a resident of Girish Park who visited Quality Opticals to buy spectacles on Friday. “I damaged my spectacles a month ago, but could not buy a new pair since shops were shut. This morning I called them up and found they were open,” he said.
Earlier this week, the government eased lockdown restrictions in non-containment zones to a large extent, allowing stand-alone shops, salons, parlours, book stores and apparel stores to reopen on the criteria that social distancing norms are followed and people wear masks all the time.
Shops, showrooms and stalls reopened on Canning Street, Brabourne Road, Zakaria Street, MG Road and Rabindra Sarani. “The hustle and bustle which had disappeared is gradually returning. There were reports of several optical stores, parlours and salons opening in Park Circus, Beckbagan, Ballygunge and Kasba, too, but most other establishments remained shut due to the destruction caused by Amphan.
Vijay Duggar, who owns an apparel store on CIT Road in Kankurgachhi, said he was ready to open his shop from Thursday, but couldn’t since there was no electricity and water. “The cyclone has damaged the wires and there is no electricity in my shop. But I am hoping to reopen from Saturday,” Dugar said.
Salons and parlours that opened on Friday had to make do with only 50% staff since most couldn’t turn up due to lack of transport. By evening, many of the establishments had small queues of customers waiting for their turn.
“The surge in the number of customers is due to Eid,” said Evelyn Biswas, a beautician at Evergreen Beauty Parlour on Rafi Ahmed Kidwai Road. “Many of our regulars have been calling us over the past few days to know when we would reopen,” she said.
On Lindsay Street and Bertram Street, only a handful of shops reopened because owners could not reach the establishments due to blocked roads and lack of transport. “Only a few people who stay in the vicinity came to the market on Friday,” said Khalid Hussain, who owns a footwear shop on Bertram Street.
Esplanade, though, bounced back to life with government buses and cabs ferrying people to the heart of the city.