THRISSUR: The smell of freshly-fried banana chips filled the air at Gabriel’s house as he was busy packing the savouries in a specially-curated gift hamper. While banana chips are an emotion for every Malayali, the ones made by Gabriel C Francis are extra special. Why, one may ask. Gabriel set up his small business outliving the limitations of a person with Down Syndrome and has become an earning member of the house at the age of 18.
The banana chips and jaggery banana chips (sarkkaravaratti) of his company, Gabryz Yard, are a hit among his small circle of family and friends. Gabriel’s love for cooking grew when his brother tried to bake a cake during the coronavirus lockdown.
“When my elder son tried his hand at baking during the pandemic, Gabriel joined him. Though he had finger coordination issues and had no idea about the quantities of items to be used, we noticed that he was enjoying the process,” shares his mother, Rajani Francis, who is his biggest pillar of support.
“He started making his favourite chocolate lava cake first. As we encouraged him, he started doing more and now he has become an expert.” Gabriel’s Choco Lava cake was a hit during the last Christmas season.
Considering the demand for banana chips during Onam, Gabriel thought of making them. The chips are sold at Rs 400 per kilogram. Recently, Kalyan Hyper Market in the district extended its support by allowing him to sell his products at their store. In association with the Down’s Syndrome Trust, they put on a stall at the store for specially-abled children.
And Gabriel’s banana chips were a favourite there. “Standing up for long is troublesome for him. However, he stands for long hours to pack the food items. He enjoys it. Seeing him indulge in various activities with a full heart and overcoming his limitations gives me great pleasure,” says a proud Rajani.
Gabriel is a Plus One student with the Government Vocational Higher Secondary School, Paravattani, with baking as his specialisation.