The other day, my mother announced that I had to go and get some meat from the market.
"We are running low on meat. Since your father cannot go outside and your brother is not home, you must go and get the meat from the market," she explained and walked away, without waiting for my reply.
This does not sound like a very difficult task, especially for many who regularly do the grocery shopping, but for me it was nothing lesser than rocket science.
The reason: I never did grocery, never bought meat. I have always devoured the juicy meat, relished every morsel, but never thought that one day I will have to go and buy it.
Now that my mother has instructed me to get the meat, I changed into my coronavirus armour (full sleeved clothes, mask, gloves, face protector) and stepped out of my room looking like a fur ball.
The moment I was about to step out, my mother called out for me and handed me a piece of paper. She had a beautiful fake smile on her face and said "can you also get these other things?"
I was about to refuse the entire idea, but her stern eyes did not entertain my refusal. Instead I stammered "yes, why not?" and started towards the door again.
And again, my name was called out - this time it was my father. "Are you going out shopping," he asked. I nodded. He checked the list my mother made and added three other items.
"Be very careful," he warned as I finally walked out the door.
The problem is that I had never been to a "kachabazar" or kitchen market. My security guards told me there is one close to our neighbourhood, and told me how to reach there.
I hopped on a rickshaw and said "bajare cholo" (Go to the bazaar). The rickshaw-puller, a young man aged around 20, turned around to take a look at me with an annoying smile on his face.
And we set off. I noticed that the rickshaw was running faster than any average rickshaw and then figured out that it had a motor installed, which made it speedier.
The rickshaw-puller guy treated his vehicle like an aircraft and soon we were at the kitchen market. As the rickshaw had no seat belts, I held the sides of the hood as tightly as possible and kept myself firm, trying not to fall off.
I fell. He braked so hard that I eventually fell. Before I could say anything, he demanded his fare and flew away.
After my not-very-appealing arrival at the kitchen market got some attention, but nobody came forward to help me. I found myself standing in a puddle.
So finally, I entered the kitchen market - a makeshift shanty with yellow bulbs glittering over the raw fish that were on display. The stench of fish made me sick to my stomach.
"Apa, ki loiben?" (Apa, what do you want) asked a fish seller. His mouth was all red with paan, as he spit in the puddle. I walked a few steps ahead. The place looked like a maze with no exits.
I think I have reached the vegetable vendors, waiting for me with fifty shades of greens. I told them the names of the vegetables but could not tell the quantity I needed. I looked clueless, they looked entertained.
It was followed by my expedition in the spices section. I needed some black salt, but could not buy it. A conversation between me and the seller went from Molla salt to epsom salt, but no black salt.
But where is the meat? I walked a few more paces, but could not find the "koshai" (the man who sells meat in the market).
One vendor told me where to find the meat seller. As I reached, that was another episode. He had so many different varieties that my confusion went to the "mind-boggling stage." I had to call dad at this point, and then bought the meat as per his advice.
Google does not teach you everything, dad also said.