For most people in Chennai, a trip to Hyderabad is often incomplete without a plate of ‘Paradise’ biriyani — from the establishment that has been dishing out the flavoursome Hyderabadi staple since 1953. Their only grouse, if any, is that every time they have a hankering for it, they have to take a train or a plane to Hyderabad to get their hands on it. Yet, on a day when flood victims in the city needed food the most, 5,000 packets of Paradise biriyani were flown in from Hyderabad on an Indigo Airlines flight. Delivered piping hot to homes inundated and without electricity, the initiative on December 3 was organised by social startup Give Away in association with The Arcot Foundation.
Given that the effort was put together at a day’s notice, Sameer Bhasin, CEO of Paradise Biryani admits, “I was a little worried that we wouldn’t get it ready in time.” But with a 100 people on the job from as early as 5am, the parcels were packed in cartons and ready to be trucked away to the airport by 8pm. And this was quite a feat, as the preparation was in addition to the 35,000-40,000 plates that the flagship outlet sells daily. “Each packet was for two people, so we fed over 10,000 people,” recalls Mohammed Asif, co-founder of Give Away. With 60 volunteers who helped with the distribution, the areas covered included Velachery, Tambaram, Mudichur, Tiruvottriyur, Kotturpuram and Saidapet. Apart from the victims of the flood who enjoyed this novel ‘airlifted’ lunch, it was also delivered to the families of policemen at the police quarters in Anna Nagar and Nungambakkam.
“People were so happy when they got it,” says a volunteer who helped distribute the food. In fact, most were pleasantly surprised when they opened the package to find something other than the conventional go-to of sambar rice that was the easiest and most convenient option to put together.