Somewhere in south Delhi, an elderly couple sells home-cooked meals from a tiny kiosk, making just enough to buy for the next day's menu or not even that. They have done this for 30 long years. Last night, the story of their struggle in the coronavirus crisis went viral, moving thousands of people, including celebrities, cricketers and even companies.
It all started with an Instagram post and a late night tweet.
Vasundhara Tankha Sharma posted a video by a food blogger featuring the couple and said it "completely broke my heart". She urged the people of Delhi to "please, please go eat at Baba ka Dhaba in Malviya Nagar".
By morning, "Baba Ka Dhaba" was among the top trends on Twitter. And a constant stream of customers could be seen at the kiosk.
In the video shot by blogger Gaurav Vasan yesterday, 80-year-old Kanta Prasad shared that he and his wife Badami Devi usually started cooking at 6.30 am and were ready with the day's meal by 9.30 am. Dal, curry, parathas and rice were kept in large dishes to be sold for around Rs 30-50 a plate.
Kanta Prasad, in an orange t-shirt and a mask hanging from his face, ran a ladle through what looked like mouthwatering matar-paneer.
When he was asked how much he had earned, he broke down and produced a few Rs 10 notes from a box. Scraps for hours of hard work.
They hardly ever made huge profits, but the pandemic has been devastating for their little enterprise. The couple gets no help from their children - two sons and a daughter.
Within hours, visuals of the old man wiping his tears racked up thousands of retweets and likes. Many offered to help the couple financially and others announced plans for lunch at Baba Ka Dhaba. Among those who tweeted are actor Sonam Kapoor, cricketer R Ashwin, IPL team Delhi Capitals and food delivery app Zomato.
"We are very happy with the number of customers that are turning up now. We are grateful for the public support," said Kanta Prasad. His wife added, "During the lockdown months we could not sell anything. We struggled to survive but today we are flooded with customers. We want to give our blessings to all those who helped us."
Hi could you please dm me details.— Sonam K Ahuja (@sonamakapoor) October 7, 2020
Dear DB Family in Delhi.— Akash Banerjee (@TheDeshBhakt) October 7, 2020
I know we are still severely restricted in our movements - but if around Malviya Nagar - please stop by at Baba Ka Dhaba???????? https://t.co/WXXVB1NZKL
.@RICHA_LAKHERA .@VasundharaTankh .@sohitmishra99 .@sakshijoshii .@RifatJawaid .@ShonakshiC .@TheDeshBhakt Visited "Baba Ka Dhaba" n hv done d needful to bring SMILE on their faces as promised. Will take care of them n I am starting a drive 2 take care of similarly placed people. pic.twitter.com/S9A94AmJxK— Adv. Somnath Bharti (@attorneybharti) October 8, 2020
To all my friends in Delhi: Please please visit baba ka dhaba for lunch. When I worked in delhi , I survived like many other young professionals on lunch from such dhabas. The food is almost always delicious and the people are all ❤ https://t.co/m2CyiJZkhP— Mohan Kumaramangalam மோகன் குமாரமங்கலம் (@MKumaramangalam) October 7, 2020
#BABAKADHABA— Ankitkumarsingh (@Ankitkum6200) October 8, 2020
Pictures tells everything....... This smile is priceless. Thanks twitter to bring smile on his face @SonuSood@DrKumarVishwas@narendramodi@AmitShah@ArvindKejriwal@msisodia@manojmuntashir@anandmahindra@imVkohli@GautamGambhir@aajtak@ABPNews@ndtvpic.twitter.com/wIeVFUwpph
Kanta Prasad beamed at the queues at his stand. "It feels like the whole of India is with us," he told news agency ANI.
People could be seen posing in front of the dhaba holding up placards with the address. Contributions poured in for "uncle and aunty".
"I am sure today #BabaKaDhaba will have more visitors than any other restaurant in Delhi. I don't know about the money, but Baba will definitely need a waiter this week," commented one post.
Baba may not have to worry about customers now. His has become quite a landmark in Malviya Nagar. pic.twitter.com/gnJn4sXhiY— Sanket Upadhyay (@sanket) October 8, 2020
Gaurav Vasan, whose video was the turning point, was also at the dhaba. "When I came here yesterday I had goosebumps listening to their plight. They had earned barely Rs 70 the entire day. They had come at 6:30 am to set up the shop and had spent Rs 500 but even after lunchtime they had earned only Rs 70. So I decided to record and share the video to help them. I am overwhelmed with the kind of support that he has received since then. It is great that there are so many people who want to help this man struggling due to poverty," he told NDTV.
It is the rare case of social media bringing a smile to the face.
In a new video, "Baba" had this message: "It is not just me...there are many others who need help, who lost their earnings."
(With inputs from ANI)