Baba Ka Dhaba, Delhi: 80-year-old Kanta Prasad has been under severe financial distress due to pandemic
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.
The story of the elderly couple moved thousands of people, including celebrities, cricketers and even companies.
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."
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.
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)