Shiraz Alam, a bank employee, waits in his hatchback for his friends — Rajesh Bhattacharya, an IT professional, Tridib Basu, a banker, and Roshni Mitra, a marketing professional — at the east side of Vivekananda Park. All three come in their respective cars, park it nearby, get into Tridib’s MUV, order food and tea from an eatery and talk their hearts out. Ever since the lockdown started easing off, this is the preferred way of catching up for these friends. They are not alone. With the lifting of restrictions on movement and reopening of cafes and restaurants, people from across the city are stepping out after surviving months without socialising. But safety being a prerequisite now, it seems the only place they trust after their homes is their own cars. The latest idea of hanging out is to go out for a spin with families or friends, not only to get a dose of fresh air but also to enjoy food and beverages from various joints, right in the comfort and safety of their car.
“My friends and I are going to office at least once a week. After that, we try to catch up for a while. We are school friends and naturally very close. Earlier, we’d meet up at coffee shops regularly. But now, some of us are not quite sure about going to public places. So, we get together in someone’s car, order on the phone, sit back and chill,” Shiraz told us.
Not just youngsters, this trend has come as a relief to parents and the elderly as well. Veena Saboo, a homemaker, recently spent an evening driving around with her daughters and enjoying her favourite cuppa. “It was heartbreaking for me to see my children locked up inside the house for months. Finally, we have found a way to chill outside without compromising on safety. So, we go out on a drive, order from our favourite joint and they happily serve us in the car, in disposable containers. It’s quite refreshing,” she said.
Seeing the trend, restaurants and cafes are encouraging patrons to order in their cars. “We have started a concept called Straight Drive. We have our very own drive-through, where one can sit in the car and enjoy the delicacies from our kitchen. The menu is simple and the whole experience is designed to be contactless as well as convenient,” said Rajit Bhutoria, director of a city club.
Also adapting to this new normal is Prium Kanoria, owner of a city restaurant, who thinks the pandemic has altered the entire concept of eating out. “It is the new family getaway now. We even see a lot of unmarried couples drive down to enjoy coffee in their cars,” she said.
Some families are even going for picnics on wheels. Samrat Mukherjee, an entrepreneur, recently took his wife, kids and mother for a family outing in his car. “The lockdown made my family, especially the children, cranky. Now we have the option to dine out, but I find it risky. So, we have come up with the idea of having a mobile picnic in the car with the family. We order food from restaurants with best safety protocols and carry our own beverages in flasks. Then we drive around and park somewhere with a nice view to make the most of our time,” he explained.
Not just families, some like to be on their own too. Abhishek Ghara, an artist, loves going out for drives all by himself. “If my friends are free, they join. Otherwise it is just me. Sometimes I pick up some coffee or tea without stepping out of the car. It’s a great way to unwind after being cooped up inside the house for so long,” he said.
Source:Times of India