Women are often thought of as a supporting force behind aspirational men. Enough movies, books and motivational quotes are around us to tell about successful men, and women in this bargain are reduced to merely a supporting force. While no disrespect is meant to such women, we are certainly in the dearth of incidents showcasing women owning up their life and making things more pleasant for themselves and those around them. Not that there are no stories, the problem lies with minimal representation in popular media. However, a small walk down the lane will reveal to you several stories of regular women, with indomitable spirits taking the charge.
Chandra Shwetha is one such woman, who owns a food cart in Bengaluru. Once disappointed and broken due to circumstances, Shwetha found the strength to pick herself. Working for over 15 hours a day, one can get a lesson or two on hustling from Shwetha.
Our family was running a successful hotel business in Tirupathi, Andhra Pradesh. We were quite well off and always lent money to those in need. However, this very thing landed us into trouble. We ran into financial troubles and were unable to recover money. I went into depression, also started having suicidal thoughts.
With the hope to build our lives from scratch, my husband and I, along with my aged mother and my four-year-old daughter moved to Bengaluru in 2017. By December 2017, we had our little food cart. It is in stark contrast to the larger restaurant we had back home, but we are thankful for whatever we have.
Our family of four stays in a rented house and we have also rented a small one-room facility where we cook all the food. My day begins at 3:30 am. My husband, who is very particular about cleanliness, cleans the whole room and we begin cooking. For breakfast, I prepare the batter for Idly/Dosa, the mixture for Masala Vada, fried rice, dough for puri, two types of chutneys and Sambar. I also have to make preparations for the lunch hours, which includes soaking pulses, cutting vegetables, among others.
By 6:30 am we reach our food cart and by 7 am our business starts. The morning hours are particularly busy. On any given day, we receive 300 customers, which reaches 500 over weekends for breakfast. This goes on till 12 in the noon after which we have to again rush to our room to prepare the lunch for another 150-200 people. I have precisely an hour’s time to manage the lunch. The spread we offer for lunch is very elaborate. From chapati, rice (two types), dal, a different type of vegetable curry every day to ragi balls, we try to offer the best to our customers.
For my husband and I, the customer is the king. We cater to different types of customers, from BBMP Pourakarmikas to office-goers. Our prices, hence, are also very nominal. One can have a sumptuous breakfast at just Rs 15 and lunch at just Rs 25. We have also generated a lot of goodwill in the process. Many customers have offered to sponsor our daughter’s education. In fact, recently when my daughter fell ill, a paediatrician, who is also one of our daily customers, did her checkup and gave medicines for free.
All this time, my husband and I have been each other’s only support throughout. And this is our small world. We have elaborate dreams for our daughter’s future, who is in UKG right now. I studied only till seventh class and my husband till tenth. But I want my daughter to be a doctor whereas my husband wants her to an IAS or an IPS officer. We are working day and night just so as to provide everything to our daughter. We also hope to start a little hotel of our own here, which we hope we are able to achieve very soon.
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