In Memory of Shezan

August 25th, 2009

It’s been ten days. And, I still can’t get over the fact that the restaurant next door is no more. The floor where the restaurant operated is now just an empty, blank space.

The exorbitant rent was too much for the operator to swallow. The land-lord had been trying to evict the restaurant operator for over an year, and where he did not succeed, the market forces did.

While, earlier, many of the staff working in some of the firms in the neighbourhood would order something to be delivered in their offices, the downturn and the salary cuts had an indirect impact on the business of Shezan. A plain case of the trickle down effect. Here, it was a trickling down of the impact of the salary cuts.

Shezan had been seeing a steady fall in the number of people coming for dine-ins ever since the global slowdown began. When many businesses in and around the restaurant began to down their shutters, the signs looked ominous. But, Shezan seemed to weather the slowdown with dignity if you went by the number of orders they were receiving for food to be delivered.

The restaurant operator (he was a contemporary of mine in college) had once lamented to me, “Now the orders of of much lesser value. It end up making the same efforts to deliver it, but make much lesser money.”
While, a couple of  months ago, a high-end Italian restaurant went down, Shezan seemed to be able to keep its head above water. Alas, while the news reports of the slowdown easing trickles in, the result has not been a proportional trickling down of the wealth creation, if any.
The real estate slump too had a huge impact. Many of the regulars to Shezan were those who made money in the real estate boom. The real estate bust has had a major impact on its revenues.

Bravo! I say to the landlord who managed to speed up the demise of a restaurant. Perhaps it was “mercy killing”.

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Behind The Mask

August 11th, 2009

Its mask, mask everywhere. A friend on a visit to a top hospital waiting in the OPD for seeing the doctor for the mandatory check-up called me up, speaking in a voice that reflected fear and frustration: “This place is so crowded, what if someone has the swine flu. An, I am kept waiting here for so long. I could definitely contract something.”

The crowding in hospitals is no longer a strange phenomena. No matter how many hospitals, the much of the general population remains underserved or untouched by good quality healthcare.
The media is doing quite a bit, it seems, in building the fear psychosis about swine flu. And, it may not be long before we may stop going out. Or, even being ‘open’.

I am reminded of the advice that my parents had given me when in school. “Do not talk to strangers.” Now, it must be “don’t breathe when near strangers.”

I was in for a surprise yesterday. I had been to the friendly neighbourhood pharmacy. The pharmacist, Rakesh, and his helps, i.e. 1 + 3 were all wearing the now popular green surgical mask. No sure how to react at the sight, I broke into a laughter. But, the four of them didn’t seem to be amused.

Rakesh said in a stern voice. “I don’t know what is breathed out by the people who come for medicines nowadays. I have to take care or I will contract the germs they may harbour and give it to everyone in the family. So, I better be safe than sorry.”

He didn’t stop at the explanation though. “Please buy one of these masks. It is only Rs 10. You go out, and use public transport. It is absolutely necessary for you.” That’s some businessman. I still remain a non-believer. The next time he may convince me if I step into the pharmacy.

And, perhaps the next time one walks into a hospital you may have to walk in with a surgical mask to ensure your immunity is not overpowered by some powerful enough disease-causing germs. I hope the next time my friend walks into a hospital, she may be advised to buy a mask from the hospital’s pharmacy.

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