Club musicians turn vegetable sellers in lockdown-hit Bengal town

Club musicians turn vegetable sellers in lockdown-hit Bengal town
The raging coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak has overnight turned Siliguri-based professional musicians Rahul Sarkar and Prashant Mitra into vegetable vendors to make their both ends meet.
The duo has been going around door-to-door with bicycles laden with vegetables and fruits, a career option, which wasn’t in their wildest nightmares when they had left their homes in North 24 Parganas district’s Jagaddal three years ago and came to Siliguri, located about 500 kilometres away, to try their luck as professional musicians.
Sarkar (33) started playing the drums, while Mitra (48) hit the keyboards for bands at a couple of bars in Siliguri. They made Rs 700 each daily for their evening gigs, accompanied by a dash of glamour and some fame among the club circles in the Darjeeling district.
However, the nationwide lockdown restrictions, which were initially enforced for 21 days from March 25 and then further extended for another 19 days till May 3 to contain the spread of Covid-19, have changed their lives upside down. 

Sarkar and Mitra, who have been friends since their struggling days at Jagaddal, are busy carting vegetables and fruits on their bicycles all day to fend for their families and also send some money back home.
“I never thought I would be selling vegetables and fruits, but right now this is all I can do to take care of my family,” said Sarkar.
“The outbreak has taught me a lesson. I’ve learnt to accept the harsh reality. One should not hallucinate about life,” said Mitra, whose father lives with his sister in neighbouring Assam.

Sarkar’s son, who has started going to playschool, wife and father live in Jagaddal, while Mitra lives with his wife in Siliguri. The stage, the duo says, has become a distant dream, as the bars have been closed for an indefinite period following the state government’s order.
Sarkar and Mitra received some help in cash and kind from well-wishers and the North Bengal Stage Performers’ Association (NBSPA) that was formed on April 6 to help members in distress. The money helped Sarkar and Mitra start the vegetable business, but it was barely enough to buy two weighing scales. The friends, bound by a common fate, decided to work together as makeshift vegetable vendors to tide over the acute financial crunch.
“Most of our colleagues are in dire straits. Our jobs will be of least priority even after the bar reopens,” said Mitra.

Around one thousand musicians, dancers, singers and anchors were working in the 50-odd bars in Siliguri, the biggest town and business centre in north Bengal, before the lockdown was clamped.
“These people enjoy no social security, as they’re treated like daily-wage earners,” said Deep Chattopadhyay, secretary, NBSPA.
“We formed the association to help ourselves. Our means are limited. We need support from the state government,” said Chattopadhyay, a saxophone player and an English teacher at a local high school.


 https://www.hindustantimes.com
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The raging coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak has overnight turned Siliguri-based professional musicians Rahul Sarkar and Prashant Mitra into vegetable vendors to make their both ends meet.

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