Ever since he was a little boy, my son Mihir has been a connosieur and lover of good food. This could be partly due to his severe milk fat intolerance as a baby or due to the weekly eating outs we did for years in the best eating places due to my husband Lalit’s “Eating Out column” in the Times of India.
Having moved to Europe, first to study and then to settle down and work, he always felt he could pay back to Society by feeding the poor. He made several rounds to the charitable Caritas foundation asking for an opportunity to work in their soup kitchens . But they said they had enough of volunteers for this and would love to welcome him as an English teacher volunteer in any of their branches. Being already a Professor, this did not interest him.
So whenever he received some bonus or unexpected monetary reward, he decided to feed the poor in India under his charitable Mitaroy foundation. He had a mental picture of ladling out food to the poor as they waited outside the Church. He was really excited when he came to know of the “Breakfast program” run by the Don Bosco priests in Matunga church, Mumbai. Having written to them, he wanted us to check it out and actually hand over the breakfast before we had our own” Five star breakfast” at the Sofitel. So one cold dark morning, we drove to Matunga. There we found the poor waiting with their tumblers in a queue. A volunteer would fill the tumbler with hot sweet tea and give out 6 Pav breads to each one. I requested the person in charge and soon started distributing the pav breads to the 20 odd people who came there every morning ,come rain, floods or scorching heat every single day of the year thanks to donors. I immediately handed out Mihir’s cheque for 18,000/- @ 1500/ day for 1 year to be distributed on the 10th of every month ( that being his birth date). This practice of annual donation has continued over the years whenever he received an unexpected monetary bounty.
Sometime later he decided he wanted to feed the poor with “ Bise bele bath” – a complete food of rice, lentils and vegetables. At first he wanted me to make it and stand at some poor street corner and distribute it. Realizing the difficulties involved ( not the least one my being a terrible cook) we advised him to instead contribute and ask the donee to make it for their members. And so started a new phase- he has again started donating an amount every month on the 10th to feed the inmates of the charitable Jeevodaya Ashram, a home for runaway girls. This amount is for their month’s rations with a provisio that they make “Bise bele bah” every Sunday. And the girls are enjoying the special treat.
Of course he has not given up on his original dream of feeding the poor with hot Bise Bele bath made by me and has even started searching different recipes which he wants me to try out and perfect.