7 11 Everywhere

When I reached Bangkok I was fascinated by the convenience store
called 7 11. Firstly the name: it was called 7 11 because of the
timings of the store in its inception. However it’s a 24/7 store now
which does not close on any day. The only time I saw it shuttered
was on the day of the funeral of a member of the Royal family of
Thailand.
Living in a condominium with marginal cooking facilities, 7 11 store
was originally a frequent haunt when I reached Bangkok. It provided
breakfast, lunch, tea and coffee, snacks and dinner as well. This
frequency continued for some time since I could not eat Thai food in
the beginning. A very unusual phase indeed; since conversely I now
relish Thai food. Bangkok has a large number of pavement eateries
which offer a ready meal. However I could not get used to the
peculiar smell which emanated from those eateries. Added to that
was the meat hanging from hooks displayed in glass cases at these
eateries. In India, meat is generally sold across the counter and
rarely displayed. My vegetarian genes were rebelling at the sight of
meat hanging in the glass cases and it would be a long time before
I could actually eat and relish Thai food.
So, going back to the 7 11 store. It was a fascinating store because
it offered hundreds of items at reasonable prices. Initially a
Japanese American store, today, paradoxically this store is found in
America only at a few places. Some of these stores were
popularized in the beginning by putting a Totem pole in front of the
store and it was called Tote’m store in the beginning since
customers toted away their purchases from the store. In Thailand
there are about 10,800 stores and in Bangkok it has invaded most
streets, lanes, by lanes, roads, and touristy spots. It is pervasive.
The quick, on-the-go bite so necessary for all of us who lack leisure
today and this was solved by the ease of getting fresh food at the

store. I was addicted to the cold coffee it offered and would often
find myself making a beeline for it especially while grading exam
answer papers. It dawned on me after some time that the sugar
content of the coffee was twice the normal one and I gave it up
quickly though a bit reluctantly.
The girls and boys who attended on customers at the store were
almost always young school going students. They used a calculator
most of the time, to calculate the money due to the customer and
we were surprised to know that even small calculations which could
be made mentally, were made on the calculator. Indians are quite
good at mental maths calculations unlike people in many countries I
was soon to realize.
Most quick bites and food as we later found, were not healthy. Food
was often laced with oodles of butter, margarine, cheese and the
delectable looking snacks had tons of calories. This was vindicated
by a colleague who put on 10 kgs. after eating regularly at the store.
Hence, 7 11 had to be replaced by healthier eating options and that
is when we went on a spree of looking out for good healthy Thai
food on the pavements of this very interesting city and I had to
change my eating pattern.

Another issue which bothered me about the store was the rampant
use of plastic bags. Almost all items from the very big to the very
small were put into plastic bags with alacrity while dispensing items
but soon discarded by most customers just outside the store since
most ordered food which needed to be eaten immediately. At times,
the pavement and bins had large number of plastic bags.Thus, the
issue of overuse of plastic bags by stores often came up in most
parts of Bangkok except for the very big malls and stores.
Since November 2018 the store has banned use of plastic bags
according to the news. But I wonder if this practice is still in use. I
find India more careful with the use of these very convenient bags
and I hope that Bangkok and other parts of Thailand will stick to its
policy of using less plastic bags.

7 11 is still a part of life in Bangkok and in spite of its shortcomings
a very convenient and comfortable store. Lately, it has been
advertised that India will also have a chain of 7 11 stores and this
should change shopping and eating patterns here as well. The
kiranawalla or grocer is fast disappearing in many parts of the world
and so is the friendly chat across the counter in these small grocery
stores. What we now have is impersonal stores with efficient
distribution and quick dispensing. Much has changed in our lives -
whether this is for the better or worse still remains to be seen.

7 11 Everywhere

When I reached Bangkok I was fascinated by the convenience store
called 7 11. Firstly the name: it was called 7 11 because of the
timings of the store in its inception. However it’s a 24/7 store now
which does not close on any day. The only time I saw it shuttered
was on the day of the funeral of a member of the Royal family of
Thailand.
Living in a condominium with marginal cooking facilities, 7 11 store
was originally a frequent haunt when I reached Bangkok. It provided
breakfast, lunch, tea and coffee, snacks and dinner as well. This
frequency continued for some time since I could not eat Thai food in
the beginning. A very unusual phase indeed; since conversely I now
relish Thai food. Bangkok has a large number of pavement eateries
which offer a ready meal. However I could not get used to the
peculiar smell which emanated from those eateries. Added to that
was the meat hanging from hooks displayed in glass cases at these
eateries. In India, meat is generally sold across the counter and
rarely displayed. My vegetarian genes were rebelling at the sight of
meat hanging in the glass cases and it would be a long time before
I could actually eat and relish Thai food.
So, going back to the 7 11 store. It was a fascinating store because
it offered hundreds of items at reasonable prices. Initially a
Japanese American store, today, paradoxically this store is found in
America only at a few places. Some of these stores were
popularized in the beginning by putting a Totem pole in front of the
store and it was called Tote’m store in the beginning since
customers toted away their purchases from the store. In Thailand
there are about 10,800 stores and in Bangkok it has invaded most
streets, lanes, by lanes, roads, and touristy spots. It is pervasive.
The quick, on-the-go bite so necessary for all of us who lack leisure
today and this was solved by the ease of getting fresh food at the

store. I was addicted to the cold coffee it offered and would often
find myself making a beeline for it especially while grading exam
answer papers. It dawned on me after some time that the sugar
content of the coffee was twice the normal one and I gave it up
quickly though a bit reluctantly.
The girls and boys who attended on customers at the store were
almost always young school going students. They used a calculator
most of the time, to calculate the money due to the customer and
we were surprised to know that even small calculations which could
be made mentally, were made on the calculator. Indians are quite
good at mental maths calculations unlike people in many countries I
was soon to realize.
Most quick bites and food as we later found, were not healthy. Food
was often laced with oodles of butter, margarine, cheese and the
delectable looking snacks had tons of calories. This was vindicated
by a colleague who put on 10 kgs. after eating regularly at the store.
Hence, 7 11 had to be replaced by healthier eating options and that
is when we went on a spree of looking out for good healthy Thai
food on the pavements of this very interesting city and I had to
change my eating pattern.

Another issue which bothered me about the store was the rampant
use of plastic bags. Almost all items from the very big to the very
small were put into plastic bags with alacrity while dispensing items
but soon discarded by most customers just outside the store since
most ordered food which needed to be eaten immediately. At times,
the pavement and bins had large number of plastic bags.Thus, the
issue of overuse of plastic bags by stores often came up in most
parts of Bangkok except for the very big malls and stores.
Since November 2018 the store has banned use of plastic bags
according to the news. But I wonder if this practice is still in use. I
find India more careful with the use of these very convenient bags
and I hope that Bangkok and other parts of Thailand will stick to its
policy of using less plastic bags.

7 11 is still a part of life in Bangkok and in spite of its shortcomings
a very convenient and comfortable store. Lately, it has been
advertised that India will also have a chain of 7 11 stores and this
should change shopping and eating patterns here as well. The
kiranawalla or grocer is fast disappearing in many parts of the world
and so is the friendly chat across the counter in these small grocery
stores. What we now have is impersonal stores with efficient
distribution and quick dispensing. Much has changed in our lives -
whether this is for the better or worse still remains to be seen.