COVID-19 was termed a black swan event — meaning an event that will likely be seen only once in a person’s lifetime. While we do hope that the worst is over, it has left a trail of destruction and suffering. Beginning in March 2020, when lockdowns were first imposed, the ones who were most impacted were individuals or households who already had it tough even when times were normal.
Almost immediately after lockdowns were announced, migrant workers began walking and cycling home since all transportation modes had ceased operations. With children, the elderly, and with their worldly belongings in tow, thousands set out for their native places over several days, and in many cases, even weeks.
As media outlets showed these grim scenes, many opened their hearts and their wallets to try and make it a tad easier for these unfortunate souls. On the one hand, we saw the likes of actor Sonu Sood who, in their personal capacity, made big differences. Then there were political parties exchanging heated arguments over the fitness levels of buses and autorickshaws. And worse still, in a theme that has now become second nature to Indian society, communal angles also played out.
Every charitable effort counts
But amid the chaos, it was the ordinary daily wage or micro business owner who was struggling. He or she was struggling to keep up with meals, with housing and clothing. For them, even ensuring the essentials seemed doubtful.
Over the past year, numerous charitable efforts helped alleviate the woes of the most marginalised sections of society. Some were well-meaning efforts while others were PR stunts. It wasn’t uncommon to receive several images in a week about how a food drive was launched or how food packets were distributed. However, all efforts–regardless of intention–were still better than no effort.
At Punjabi Kadhai, we have always maintained a strong focus on business fundamentals. We make no attempt to hide the fact that we are a current era capitalist organisation. Strong business sense is essential to not only our survival but also for our team members and their dependents. But on the same right, we also recognise the importance of social responsibility, of giving back to the communities that we are a part of.
In keeping with this broader humanitarian mindset, we have made small efforts to ease the burden of individuals who are less privileged. Recently, we took the initiative to support street hawkers who have been affected due to the pandemic. With restrictions on movement and more-than-before levels of hygiene considerations, many hawkers are still at risk of falling through the cracks.
Our efforts at Punjabi Kadhai
As part of our effort, we decided to offer our assistance to a gentleman called Kishore. He makes his living selling a popular snack called jhal muri. For the uninitiated, jhal muri is basically puffed rice that is mixed with chopped onions, chillies, mustard oil, coconut shavings and gram, among others. It is quite popular in eastern India and a few entrepreneurs have even attempted to give it a more polished look, complete with attractive packaging and branding.
In Kishore’ case, he carries a large tin that holds the puffed rice. And on the tin are his neatly arranged condiments. Originally hailing from Bihar, Kishore now calls Siliguri home. He would shift between key areas in the city, in keeping with how busy or slow each location was proving to be.
About a month ago, Punjabi Kadhai asked Kishore if he’d like to come on board to make jhal muri for all our dine-in guests, as also for our patrons who come over for a drink. This treat is absolutely on the house for all guests and his new avatar makes Kishore’s life that much easier. When you visit us, we highly recommend you try some jhal muri. We assure you Kishore’s tasty preparation is the outcome of equal parts good ingredients, and his expertise at the craft he knows best.
(This is a paid promotion for Punjabi Kadhai. Write to email@example.com)