Ramlal was the owner of a decently sized grocery store in one of the tony areas in town. People from different parts of the city would visit his store. The reason they came was because Ramlal had two sons, Ratanlal and Sanju and both of these boys were globetrotters. They would go to different parts of the world and they would source some of the most exotic stuff from these places at very cheap rates, since they were good at negotiating. They would then have the shipments delivered to dad’s shop and also setup the supply chain for repeat orders. This meant that if some baker wanted a specific cream cheese for her new creation there was that specific cream cheese available at Ramlal’s shop, if a kid wanted a packet of skittles with only the blue ones – yupp Ramlal’s shop, if a college going kid couldn’t budge without his shot of Davidoff decaf (though for the life of me I can’t understand why people drink decaf if they don’t want caffeine I mean use coffee essence instead) yupp it was available at Ramlal’s, if a birthday party needed cheese fondue there was only one place in town where you could get Swiss cheese, french bread and Gruyere cheese… Over time a certain rhythm got set up. Ramlal meticulously kept notes about when what specific item was getting sold and when to place the order so that by the time a buyer came looking for the bag of marshmallows the shipment with bags of marshmallows also arrived. Life was good for everyone. This way there was no wastage of stock and to an extent all buyers got what they wanted when they wanted it. Sometimes they needed to place advance orders but that was a rare problem.
Then came the lockdown. Covid-19 brought the world to a grinding halt. Shuttered each and every shop in the town. Apparently people were still allowed to go out and buy essential items though. But Ramlal had just all of these exotic imported foods at his shop. The coffees, and cheeses, and chocolates and preserves and salts and jams and nutella (which the uber kewl kids pronounced as new-tella… jury is still out on that one) and what all… these were not on the list of essential items. They were food no doubt but not essential foods. So Ramlal’s store was closed.
Seven months later when the lockdown was finally relaxed Ramlal went back to his shop finally. There was a horrible stink coming off the shop. It took him five days to clean it up and dispose off of all the rotting and rotten contents of his shop. Thankfully much of the produce had been eaten up by insects and rodents so it wasn’t exactly a complete loss after all metaphorically speaking. The financial loss, when he finally sat down to calculate, had been around twenty lakh rupees! That was the loan he had taken from the bank to stock up his shop. and make the advance payments to the suppliers in all those far flung countries. There was no way whatsoever to recover that amount. It was gone. Ramlal had to sell off the house to pay the banks off. Ratanlal and Sanju helped by pitching in with whatever savings they had but even so the house had to be sold off. They started from scratch again….
This particular incident has not happened yet, however it could and will happen if we don’t realize now that all food has a specific shelf life. Yes essentials are what we should be buying when we step out for buying essentials, however non-essentials that are perishable need to be bought and consumed as well. Sauces, preserves, pastas, cheeses, cookies, chocolates, instant ramen, cake mixes, beverages, yogurts and what not are sitting on shelves and will get thrown away soon. You used to consume these which is why the Ramlals of this world stocked them for you. Now just because you feel you need to be an ideal citizen and not indulge in sinful delights you stick to buying only dal-rice, leaving the other perishables right there on the shelves. You are creating a problem by doing this. Ask your local shops about all the things that you used to buy every time you go. No not because you can’t do without those things but because he cannot stay saddled with the inventory forever. He would end up paying from his own pocket for things that he stocked depending on the fact that you would need those things. Now, need them! Don’t make him pay for your indulgences all these years.
Think of it in this way. The world works on the principle of pass it forward. The big bank needs software and staffing to ensure that they are able to serve customers. You, at your big ticket software firm, are the staffing or the software developer. Your job pays you well, even now. The shopkeeper depends upon you for the sale of all that he stocks, in fact he stocked it all because you asked him to! So now if you don’t like it when the bank, that you indirectly work for, tells your company “lets reduce the staffing requirement to 30% and lets also bill at 30% for the application development and support for the next six months“, then be kind to your shopkeeper as well. Keep buying what you used to, at least till stocks last. Your salary is not gone, at least not yet, so keep the poor fellow afloat till you can. What you do unto others is what some other other will do unto you.
Covid-19 may mean that you need to become more generous towards the larger population. Let it also be clear that charity starts from the shop next door. Instead of looking for dramatic donation avenues, where you don’t even know what the money is being used for, on you next trip out grocery shopping at the local grocery store go and look for the products that are nearing their expiry dates. Buy them even if you do not need them. Poor fellow would be saved from the loss and all you would have would be an extra bottle of marmalade that you can give to the security guards back home. The security guards will in turn pass it along to the poor people who keep turning up at society gates looking for food (yes we don’t see them because we are upstairs but these poor people are coming, every single day). Make that your donation, after all if everyone swept their own driveway everyday the whole world would be clean, everyday!
Oh and one more thing Zoom isn’t unsafe, Zoom is also not a Chinese company as some oafs might want you to believe. Zoom is legit don’t hate it just because an American of Chinese origin built it. That same guy was part of the team that build Webex which was acquired by Cisco. He built it because he wanted to be closer to his girlfriend… now that’s one emotion I can understand so well. Adopt best practices while using Zoom, just as you would when using other messaging platforms, and you will be fine. It’s got too much functionality to be brushed away for minor kinks that are being ironed out, that too with help from people like Alex Stamos no less… the guy who used to be the Chief Security Officer at Facebook. So if you’re ok with FB you ought to give Zoom a chance as well… personally I find FB to be an utter mess (I have often been told not to use the stronger word I have in mind) but then that’s just from a functionality standpoint and that’s just me, I don’t even like the idea of decaf either. Oh and the cast of that story I started with… yupp some of you guessed it right, Jo Jeeta Wahi Sikander.