India Lockdown Society

This Chennai couple delivers vegetables in an autorickshaw to those in need

V Deepa

V Deepa   | Photo Credit: special arrangement

Deepa goes to Koyambedu at 5 am everyday with her husband to procure vegetables worth ₹2000 which are later sold in and around Velachery

A year ago V Deepa decided to set up a small vegetable shop in Vijaya Nagar, Velachery, to supplement the income of her husband S Vignesh, an auto driver.

As she had financial commitments, she would leave her one-year-old baby with her mother-in-law and spend the day at the market. “I was gradually expanding my customer base and this lockdown has left me in the lurch,” she says, adding, “My husband also can’t earn anything as he cannot take his autorickshaw out. We were worried about how we will manage. That is when my husband suggested that we use his autorickshaw to sell vegetables,” says Deepa.

So on April 3, Deepa began to sell vegetables door-to-door in the vehicle in and around Velachery.

“The idea seemed workable and I thought it would be a service to the public during the lockdown. I travel in the driver’s seat, along with my husband, as the rest of the space in our auto is filled with trays of vegetables,” says Deepa, adding that she resorted to a retro-method to attract customers. “I shout out, ‘avarakka, thakkali, parangikai, keera… ellam fresh kai amma’ at the top of my voice, as we drive past apartments and houses.”

Deepa goes to Koyambedu by 5 am with her husband and spends two hours to procure vegetables for ₹2,000. She begins her door-to-door sales from 10 am onwards. “We wind up by 12.30 pm, and return home. The cost of vegetables has skyrocketed, therefore I get five kilos of six or seven varieties of vegetables. Demand seems high for fresh green vegetables such as broad beans, cluster beans, Ooty beans, lemon, ginger, drumstick, spinach and onions. Right now she does not sell fruits as the price is rather high. “If I get a kilo of tomato for ₹20, I sell it at ₹25, I don’t increase my margin more than ₹5 per kilo. After all the hard work, at the end of the day, we make ₹300 each.”

She currently stays with her mother in Perungudi as she can leave her baby in her care; her in-laws have left to their native town. “It is the elderly who are extremely happy that I bring vegetables to their doorstep. I wear gloves and cover my face with a mask, and leave the vegetables they want near their home, and request them to leave the cash in the basket, which I take after they leave,” she says. So far she has sold out all her vegetables within two or three hours and whatever is left — bruised vegetables — she feeds to the cows on the road.

“We disinfect the auto as we are aware of the COVID-19 and the crisis the world is facing,” she adds. “If anyone requires we can go to other nearby locations as well to sell.” As Deepa is “not tech savvy”, she only deals in cash now.

“All these days, my husband would leave home by morning and return by midnight. Now this lockdown has given us an opportunity to spend 24/7 together. Romba jolliya irukku avar kooda eppovum irukkaradhu. If this works out well, then we might probably take it up on a permanent basis,” says Deepa.

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Printable version | Jul 2, 2020 4:16:10 PM |

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