You can keep sweets away from a Bengali, but you can’t keep a Bengali away from sweets. After a brief yet unexpected separation, Bengalis reunited with their oh-so-favourite mishti on Tuesday as a few renowned sweet chains resumed business, following a green signal from the government. Food app delivery boys queued up at shop counters on Day 1 as online demand surged. Within noon and 4 pm — the altered business hours for sweet shops — rosogolla, doi, sandesh, peda, kalakand and gulab jamun flew off the shelves.
Welcoming the move, Sudip Mullick, owner of Balaram Mullick and Radharaman Mullick, said, “Thanks to the government and our CM for understanding the plight of sweet makers. This decision will save millions of small dairies and tonnes of milk that was going waste. We are offering our regular as well as signature sandesh. And not to mention, rosogollas.”
These shops are taking several precautions to ensure high safety standards. While masks and sanitisers are a must for staff, customers are being provided with hand sanitisers too. To ensure safe distance between customers, some shops have also created markings on the floor while others are asking patrons to wait outside the shop to ensure there’s no contamination.
Gupta Bothers, which has sweets like peda, kalakand, sandesh and some namkeen items on sale, is focusing mainly on home delivery through apps to avoid any physical touch or contamination. Owner Muktesh Gupta said, “Our in-house staff are adhering to all hygiene norms while preparing and handling the sweets. In the lockdown period, we will be mostly delivering sweets as we don’t want customers to enter our shops. If someone visits, they can wait for their order to be delivered outside. This is a step we have taken to avoid any risk of contamination.”
At Balaram Mullick and Radharaman Mullick outlets, hand sanitisers are available on counters for the customers. Mats have been strategically placed on the floor to make sure patrons stand at a safe distance from each other. Most “Bengalis have a sweet tooth. Popular shops are ensuring proper hygiene and we trust them. I’m so happy that sweet shops are back. Now we have something to brighten up our mood amid lockdown, said Punam Gupta, a Bhawanipore resident.
Smaller shops cautious
However, it is mostly the bigger chains that have reopened for now. Many traditional and revered north Kolkata shops – including KC Das, Putiram, Jashoda, Girish Chandra and Nakur Chandra Sweets — are not ready to start yet, fearing safety and labour issues. “We are not thinking about business now. Our main concern is safety. We’ve been advised to stay at home and we are following that to the T. It is difficult to avoid physical contact during transactions and delivery of sweets, so it is best to reopen once the lockdown is over. Also, keeping the shop open just for four hours will hardly help our business,” said Prajesh Nandy, owner of Girish Chandra and Nakur Chandra Sweets.
A few sweet shops like New Naba Krishna Guin in Bowbazar will remain open albeit with limited stocks. Owner Supravat Dey said, “We will only allow customers wearing masks inside the shop. Not more than two persons will be allowed inside at one point. We have also kept hand sanitiser for customers. A distance of three feet will be maintained between staff and patrons.” Since most of their staff have headed home in view of the lockdown, the stocks are being prepared by just three labourers. On offer are Ram bonde, rosogolla and a few types of sandesh.
Precautions being taken by sweet shops
1. Sweet makers and staff at shops to wear masks
2. They will sanitise their hands while making or serving sweets
3. Hand sanitisers to be provided to customers
4. Not more than two to three persons allowed to enter the shop at a time
5. Markings on the floor to ensure safe distance between customers
Selling like hot cakes
2. Tok/mishti doi
3. Plain Sandesh
6. Gulab jamun
7. Samosa (available at a few shops post lunch hours as a snack item before they close down, amount of samosas churned out will be limited)
Source: Times of India