Pandemic and Public Spaces

The interviews conducted under this segment focus on grasping on how the streets and public spaces have changed due to the pandemic. We talked to people residing in different housing typologies across neighbourhoods in Ahmedabad. While a few interviews include residents belonging to high-rise apartments, others to row houses, bungalows and low or medium-rise apartments, other interviews have focused on stakeholders such as chai vendors or vegetable vendors who have witnessed first-hand, the impact of pandemic on the streets.


Through conducting these oral history interviews, we gained a few insights. Firstly, we found that since access to indoor recreational spaces has been restricted during the pandemic and also because people have become more health conscious, a greater number of people are seen on the streets for morning and evening walks. The number of senior citizens seen in the parks and on the streets have reduced after the pandemic. Secondly, there have been changes in the informal vending activities. In some locations, there is a rise in the vegetable vendors and the emergence of mobile vendors who sell masks and sanitizers on the streets. At a few places, food vendors have reduced, while in other neighbourhoods, they have increased. The average time spent around the chai stalls have reduced significantly while in the case of vegetable vendors, they have started home deliveries of fruits and vegetables which has significantly reduced the pedestrian traffic in some areas.

Harshal is a resident of a bungalow within a gated community in South Bopal, a suburban neighbourhood of Ahmedabad. He talks about the changes in the nearby public park and the spaces around the retail stores on the street next to his residence.

Interviewee: Harshal Oza


Interviewer: Eklavya Koralkar

Rupa is a resident in a high-rise apartment in the Anand Nagar neighbourhood near Jodhpur gam in Ahmedabad. The neighbourhood consists of a vegetable market and a public park where there is a decline in the number of senior citizens while a rise in user groups from a younger age group after the pandemic.

Interviewee: Rupa Hathi

Interviewer: Eklavya Koralkar

Madhuri is a resident of a gated community in the South Bopal locality. She talks about how there has been an increase in vegetable vendors and chai vendors due to the rise in construction sites in this area. She observes that streets are now being used more as the access to other public spaces has been restricted.

Interviewee: Madhuri Shrikhande

Interviewer: Eklavya Koralkar

Praharsh is a resident of Anandnagar and lives in a low-density housing colony. He shares with us the story of the transformation of a food court abutting the SG highway. He says that he himself prefers spaces that are less crowded and especially the ones located around the ring road in Ahmedabad.

Interviewee: Praharsh Dave

Interviewer: Eklavya Koralkar

This chai vendor is situated in a place surrounded by various educational institutes in the University area in Ahmedabad. He shares that his customer base has decreased substantially during and after the pandemic with the online operation of educational institutions and firms operating nearby.

Interviewee: Jitubhai Desai

Interviewer: Eklavya Koralkar

Ashok Bhai is a chai vendor situated on Drive-In Road abutting the Commerce junction. He shares that this area has witnessed radical changes due to the pandemic as well as the ongoing Metro construction. He says that there have been significant changes in the movement patterns of people. He adds that after the first lockdown, there has been a 50% reduction in the customers visiting his stall.

Interviewee: Ashokbhai Desai

Interviewer: Eklavya Koralkar

Tripathi Bhai uses a tempo and the space outside it, where he sells cigarettes and other packaged food. After the pandemic, he has upgraded his setup with a chai stall beside the tempo. He talks about the changes in the street just before and after the pandemic and the significant decline in the customers at the food vendors and cloth vendors there.

Interviewee: Tripathi Bhai

Interviewer: Eklavya Koralkar

Astu is a resident of a low-rise residential community abutting the Shyamal Cross Road and the Jivraj Flyover. She finds that the number of customers at the street-side vendors of her neighbourhood has increased after the pandemic. She shares how the residents in her area have begun to use their terraces more during and after the lockdown.

Interviewee: Astu Panchal

Interviewer: Eklavya Koralkar

Gauri is a resident of a high-rise, high-density residential community in suburban Ahmedabad. She describes the changes witnessed on the street, specifically, in relation to a market located on the way to her workplace in Bopal.

Interviewee: Gauri Koralkar

Interviewer: Eklavya Koralkar

The vegetable vendor occupies the space on the collector street junction which links Jodhpur Gam and Anand nagar. He talks about the transformation of the street due to the pandemic and how the Municipal Corporation has helped them in various ways during the pandemic.

Interviewee: Anonymous

Interviewer: Eklavya Koralkar

If you like, please do add here stories of your experiences of public spaces during the pandemic! You can also talk to other people about their experiences, which may include interviews of residents in your neighbourhood or stakeholders who experienced the first-hand impact of the pandemic on the streets.

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