Kerala

Service with a smile

Emergency workforce in action

Binu Babu reaches across the counter and drops three milk sachets into the bag held open by the elderly customer.

“That's ₹69,” he says, peering over the gray mask covering the lower half of his face. The man quickly hands over the money and leaves as the next customer, a woman wearing a white mask, steps up to the counter.

By then, it's 11.30 a.m. But, on Wednesday, Binu had been manning the Milma milk counter at Sasthamangalam since 4.30 a.m. with milk purchases by households going up.

“'Earlier, we used to sell around 720-750 sachets a day. Now it has shot up to around 2,000 covers with people taking home five to ten sachets where they used to take two or three,” Binu said.

As Kerala struggles to come to terms with the fact of a global pandemic-induced lockdown, it is people like Binu - part of an emergency workforce that includes the police, private security guards, newspaper delivery boys, drivers and grocery merchants - who provide a semblance of normalcy to an otherwise upended social life.

While milk and curd top the demand list, there are also many takers for Milma’s ‘Sambharam’ on account of the blazing summer heat, the youngster from Attukal said. Before the lockdown, the outlet used to open at 5 p.m. and close at 9 p.m. The lockdown has also introduced revised work schedules. “On Tuesday, the police asked us to down shutters at 5 p.m,” Binu said.

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Printable version | Mar 30, 2020 1:28:42 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/service-with-a-smile/article31167558.ece

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