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Spoiled Goods

At a deli that never closed, New Yorkers who wouldn’t change.


In India, this is common,” said Sneha Atul Shah, 48, proprietor of the Seventh Street Village Farm in the gathering post-electric gloom. She was smiling gently, two days into the blackout and two long blocks from the furthest reach of the floodwaters. Seventh Street Village Farm never closes, and it hadn’t, though Sneha had gone home to Woodside on Tuesday, after spending the night of Sandy’s arrival in the store with her husband till 4 a.m. “Then from four to six in the car. It got cold,” she said. Among the reinforcements was her daughter, Vidhi Shah-Patadia, 24, handing out Halloween candy to the neighborhood children of the dark. This “was nothing compared to the monsoons,” she said. In India when it rained they would play. “We would make paper boats and send them down the water.”

A miffed woman entered in an expensive-looking overcoat, complaining that there were bugs in the box of pasta she’d bought the night before, and, when she looked closely, the cheese had expired. She wanted her money back, even for the unexpired eggs. Sneha sighed, did as she was asked, except for the eggs. “Oh, that’s less than he charged me,” said the woman as she gathered her change. “Hurricane pricing, I guess.”

“Go around the block,” said Vidhi, after she’d left. “We’re the only ones who aren’t overcharging.” She shook her head: To someone from a land of endemic floods and blackouts, New Yorkers occasionally seem philosophically unprepared for this sort of event. “I had a lady from Brazil come in and I was like, ‘Hey, take this, not that it’ll stay fresher longer.’ And she was like, ‘Back home, we left eggs outside for days and nothing went wrong. The Americans think too much of it.’ ”

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