V drives two kilometres from home to Nilgiris. She has left work early to avoid the late evening parking wars at the supermarket. She pulls out a trolley and piles it high with rice, wheat flour, daal, salt and sugar, neatly labelled and packed in clear plastic. Some butter, some bread, on occasion, some cheese. Pasta. Spices and nuts. A quick, guilty trip to the snack aisle and finally to the queue for guiltless vegetables. Nine hundred rupees. Into the pocket of a well-to-do business family from another state. Unspeakable quantities of plastic packaging. Six polythene bags.
A walks slowly down 4th Cross, past eleven-year-olds playing street cricket. She arrives at Deepa Stores, opens her handbag and retrieves a list. Rice, wheat, daal, salt and sugar. Soaps and detergents. Four hundred rupees, and home delivery. On the way home, she stops at a cart selling bananas. Eighteen rupees. And another selling guavas. Fifteen rupees. As she opens the gate, an old woman with a basket on her head approaches. Twelve rupees for amaranth and spinach. A grand total of Rs. 435.00. Four local livelihoods bettered. No plastic bags, no packaging except for the detergent.
What is wrong with us?