Conversations concerning Lucknow's street food are incomplete without the honorary mention of the city's Chatori Gali, seated at the 1090 Chauraha. However, the pandemic overshadowed its gourmet glory and a place that was once a bustling hub of the youth and oldies alike during the twilight hours, stood deserted, until now.
After receiving the required permissions to function from June 21, the stalls at Lucknow's famous Chatori Gali were seeing firing up their grills, bringing milk handis to a boil, fanning the tandoors, heating up the tawas, in line with the issued protocols. In sync with the inviting aromas, the very first day of this food street's business accounted for a hefty footfall, although the count didn't match up the tallies of the pre-pandemic era. However, with the daily assemblage of residents seen here now, it is safe to say that the many city folks are maintaining ample social distancing with the actual COVID norms.
July heralds hope for food vendors at Chatori Gali
Till now, due to the strenuous lockdown and other repercussions of the pandemic, these local food sellers had been left unemployed and with no cash flow at all, causing a state of panic and desolation among them. But with July approaching, the second wave receding and several relaxations offered, the food vendors at Chatori Gali are hopeful that their businesses will highlight an upward trajectory soon.
Further, in an effort to urge the residents to indulge and to boost sales, so that their basic margin of daily survival is heeded to, most of the street food vendors here have decided not to hike up their prices.
Concerns brewing regarding expectant third wave
Although the situation in the city seems to be bettering, the Chatori Gali sellers have voiced their concerns regarding the new virus strain and a probable third wave, which would yet again mean the indefinite closure of business. Nevertheless, the business owners are still looking forward to a steady revival of sales in the coming days, with the dilution of the ongoing pandemic cutbacks.
Before COVID took over, Chatori Gali housed more than 50 street food vendors and at present, this strength has reduced but the spirit of feeding people till they burp out loud and making a living out of it, still gleams bright. The stalls are operational from 5 PM till 9 PM, from Monday to Friday!
But Pooja (read: Lucknowites), what is this behaviour?
We understand that the temptation of thronging Chatori Gali and wolfing down the delights here is absolutely difficult to resist and supporting local vendors at this point, is also the crucial need of the hour! But what is also important is to follow all the issued norms to dodge another swelling while enjoying the pleasures of being out in the open- a privilege that isn't too common these days.
Since Monday, many maskless residents have been spotted here at Lucknow's Chatori Gali, who were also found flouting the other issued COVID regulations. A similar visual was witnessed at the city's famed Bhoothnath Market as well, where people frolicked around to bag goodies and treat themselves to the street grubs available at this locale.
This brings us back to the same aide-memoire that the pandemic is just simmering down- it hasn't gone for good yet and a third wave is definitely on the cards! With great 'unlock', comes great responsibility- so mask up, sanitize and make sure to maintain distance from strangers, be it during this pandemic or otherwise.
- Inputs & pictures by Pawan Kaushal