Monsoon had an extended spell throughout India this year. Starting from the far south, heavy rain climbed across north and broke into even the highest altitudes. With it we had unexpected damages, it killed hundreds of people, so many houses and buildings were washed away and enormous amount of agricultural wealth ruined. In contrast, only a few months ago we had a terrible shortage of power and water supply in many states, we were in fact waiting for this much-needed rainy season. As we watched nature taking control, just like the tsunami a decade ago, our vulnerability was exposed as the tiniest particles of this Universe and the solemnity of our precious time to achieve a great life while we are around.
Have we learned anything? No! The urgency of want has defeated the serenity of need and we took the challenge of seeking more and ruthlessly declared war against the law of nature. People with a bit of success are looking for more and more, many haven’t even understood the level of optimum. In our little Santro, on a mission to transform the restaurant business, we were struggling along a rain-hit wobbly road on that Sunday morning. Starving away from breakfast or the turbulent path didn’t take away the curiosity or excitement of our task.
We were on the doorstep of genuine happiness; already there was a group of young people stepping away from their busy life, else having left their boring jobs to experience this miracle of life. We were slowly immersed into the cheerful sounds and expressive love of sprinting children towards us, their smiles opened up a valley of hope and warmth in our silenced emotions. At the same time, terrible shame of guilt surrounded our faces as we questioned our delay in reaching this altar and the valuable help we could have extended to these well-deserved kids.
In that most valuable time in their company, we shared stories that enthused us and tried proposing how they could heal this world from unnecessary pains and achieve the best for themselves. We took them through moving stories from the world of food and remarkable people who won enormous battles inspite of life’s harsh realities and misfortunes. The story of Catherine Joseph in particular, the lady who was born with a completely paralysed body, the struggle that she and her mother had to go through to win a glorious life fighting against all odds. In a world where people like Catherine showed us the pinnacle one could reach, everyone should wake up to achieve the best for themselves and for the people in much worse life conditions.
At the end of the beautiful session, we were much closer than we thought, our determination to invite their future and career with us by sharing all aspects of cooking and restaurant management, we brought them closer to a new dream and opportunity. I could see someone wiping her tears as the youngest of the group came closer and asked me, “Uncle shall we come with you now and work in your restaurant?”
Two weeks later another group of about 13 children visited Rasa India in Bangalore to undergo their first training and taste of catering world. Ritheesh Shetty, the young business graduate who made it all possible has been spending all his spare time working with these wonderful kids representing a charity called Make A Difference (MAD). With hundreds of well-educated volunteers, they are indeed making a huge difference to our society’s future. Started in Kochi seven years ago, their work of educating and empowering underprivileged children has already reached 23 cities across India.
Old people used to say, all natural disasters are warnings, to seek less and give more as we do the opposite most of the time. Even now it’s not too late to start learning and be not driven by money and material wealth more than one needs. Also they used to remind, excess always belonged to the needy and you are supposed to distribute or Nature will take its own action to pull it out of you.
The author is a London-based restaurateur who owns the Rasa chain