COVID-19: Kochi cafe’s box of kindness at sunset for the hungry

Every night since the holy month of Ramzan started, about 250 Iftar containers head out to properties in Palluruthy close to Fort Kochi, for individuals hit by the COVID-19 lockdown. The parcel features a fruit, dates and a snack — samosa, unakaya or spring roll. It is an element of a meal service that has been run by a metropolis restaurant ever since the lockdown.

Although the lockdown has been eased in Kochi, the service continues unabated.

Samovar Chayapeedika, a restaurant in Palluruthy, which opened its doorways barely two weeks earlier than the lockdown, is behind these beneficiant meals. Samovar is commercial filmmaker Nasim PA and enterprise companion Siju P Najeeb’s foray into the hospitality business. The initiative has been working for the previous 45 days and counting.

“Everything was in place, our employees and supplies. We had just started business when this crisis struck,” says Nasim. With inventory on their fingers, and keen staff, the companions initially determined to donate meals for per week or for so long as their shares lasted.

But, they’re but to expire of meals.

“We didn’t expect it to last this long,” Nasim confesses. “As we went along and people heard of what we were doing, we started getting donations in kind — vegetables, onion, flour — which helped since the entire burden was not entirely on us. Financially, this is not easy.”

Now Nasim and Siju put collectively 500 parcels of meals (together with the Iftar containers) on a regular basis. “During the lockdown we delivered the same number. We give both Iftar boxes and the food parcels to those who are fasting,” Nasim says. With the easing of the lockdown, the restaurant is open for deliveries.

Need of the hour

Until two weeks in the past, Nasim’s staff had been working with out wages, “They said they did not want their salaries. In fact, four days into the lockdown, on March 30, when we decided to start the donations they said they would stay back and work. That meant a lot to us. And their gesture is admirable especially given the bad press guest workers have been getting lately,” he says. (Kerala makes use of the time period visitor staff as a substitute of migrant labour.)

To hold the initiative working, volunteers supplied to assist by making the each day deliveries to those that couldn’t come and accumulate meals.

As most neighborhood kitchens and donations are inclined to focus extra on daytime meals, often lunch, Nasim and Siju determined to offer dinner. “There are many people whose basic need for food goes unmet. The bedridden due to diseases or old age, seniors who live alone and those whose livelihoods have been affected… There are more hungry people than we can imagine,” Nasim provides. The meals parcels often include meals like chapathi with rooster curry or appam with egg curry.

During Ramzan, the Iftar equipment was added, an thought mooted by I AM (Indian Adfilm Makers), an affiliation of advert filmmakers, of which Nasim is part. “I had spoken to I AM about this and they immediately agreed. They began chipping in with contributions and donations.” The each day parcel of meals delivered after sunset is one thing that folks now look ahead to.

I AM joint secretary Sleeba Varghese says, “Many community kitchens, run by various organisations, shut by the first extension (till May 3). Nasim approached us as he didn’t want to stop before the lockdown was lifted. We decided to support him: as an organisation and individually too. We will take it to its logical conclusion — the end of the lockdown.” Nasim concurs. “We will keep going till May 17, or at least that’s the plan for now.”

Explaining why they saved going, regardless of the challenges, he says, “Once you see what this packet of food means to the people who eagerly wait for it, it will change you forever. I have seen little children and the aged wait for this: we just could not bring ourselves to stop.”

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