Hyderabad: The one-km stretch beside the Gachibowli Traffic Police station towards Botanical Gardens, known popularly as DLF Road, has for long had the image of being a foodies’ paradise. The numerous established and informal outlets along the stretch offer a wide range of South and North Indian food in addition to street delicacies such as Maggi, shawarma, momos, chaat and more.
In fact, for most IT employees from the several companies in the area apart from students of IIIT-H and the University of Hyderabad, this stretch in Hyderabad’s IT corridor used to be the go-to place for food, as one could find something 24×7, that is, till the pandemic struck.
Since then, every single food outlet on the stretch has been affected dramatically, with many even closing down. Closed shutters, empty restaurants and tea stalls, rusty and worn-down contraptions of street-food outlets greet us now, in contrast to the consistent buzz of activity that was there before March 2020.
As G Gopal Chari, the owner of a meals outlet points out, “We used to be overloaded at any given point and this is an area where one could find a multitude of options at affordable cost, but now the footfall is only about 10-20% of the usual.”
Different kinds of Maggi was one of the USPs of that road, as one could get a delicious, filling, pocket-friendly meal. These stalls which used to run round-the-clock, with brisk business during lunch and at nights, now sport a deserted look. “It’s just a handful of people who come and we are barely managing to keep up with running costs,” says a worker at a noodle stall.
The situation has also changed the items that are available. Stalls selling items like shawarmas, momos and Frankies seemed to have closed down, with only meals and tiffins doing business. According to Khaja Moinuddin, owner of a pan shop in the area, the little number of customers that these stalls get are the ones who drive by.
“We used to have a lot of IT employees but they aren’t working from offices,” informs Khaja. Ramesh Kumar, a worker at a juice stall has a similar opinion and he says, “People used to line up outside juice shops during the day and now we are just seeing customers sporadically.”
This has also affected the lives of scores of workers of these stalls, as the small businesses can’t afford to keep the usual number on the payroll. While all of these small businessmen are hoping things get back to normalcy by September, there’s also the fear of a potential third wave. “People are saying there will be a third wave and if that comes, our lives will be affected even more. As it is, we are barely managing to scrape through,” concludes Chari.
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