‘It is a sin to sell food,’ believed this hotelier! Despite being a hotelier, he never sold rooms, because he had none. But for his survival he and his family always had to sell food. But every time he sold food, he somehow strongly believed that he was accumulating more sin, because his father told him so. Hence, he devised his own method of reducing the quantum of his sin, which he believed will help him to settle with Chitragupta, the chief accountant of our mythology, who makes our life’s balance sheet, according to our Puranas.
On this Tuesday late at night, K Narayanaswami alias Chandran, owner of the Iconic South Indian Restaurant called Mani’s Lunch Home in Mumbai died of heart attack. If you pass through his tiny restaurant, named after his father, you will be airlifted by the aroma of sambar, filter coffee and many other South Indian dishes. But sambar was his signature piece. He perfected the art of making aroma attracting passers-by technique, decades before Starbucks or Coffee Coffee Day could do with their coffee aroma. In short these foreign joints were not even born when he perfected this art. Like today’s generation speaks “let’s meet at CCD or Starbucks” we in our younger days had a meeting joint and that was addressed as “mani’s.” The reason for meeting in that place was unlike this generation. We never had money, and whatever money was left with us, if we needed to eat stomach full then the only place to go for us then was “Mani’s.”
That is because he not only gives free sambar and chutney with every snack you order, but he will keep refilling your plate and cup as much as you want. When we youngsters entered his small restaurant, he knew that these youngsters were going to raid his bucket of sambar. He will instantly take a brisk walk inside the kitchen. Sometimes we thought he was going to add some hot water to the sambar. But we were wrong. He actually went inside to ensure that the sambar burst with aroma of dhania and hing and to tell the chef to add more coconut to the chutney. Actually to one of my friends he confessed saying “poor youngsters, strugglers but honest, and if we cheat them on food quality, then they will think of cheating the society. Like we grew economically over years, even these youngsters will succeed. To reach there we need to give good food to them. That is the only way I reduce my sin of selling food.”
Since we can’t go back to our home town on every south Indian festival, (which we had in plenty) his menus will deviate on that day from the normal Idli, medu vada, Mysore Bonda, and dosas to festival feasts. And for regulars, sweet dishes were served two times without the knowledge of the irregulars, saying that “you must be missing your mother’s cooking”! For a moment he would bring each mother’s face before them that made them emotional. This feeling can be understood only by those who led a bachelor life away from parents.
Like Chandran, all of us need to have some belief in our life and all our actions have to revolve around it, because it takes care of the ultimate profit (read punya) and makes our life’s balance sheet sparkling.
Funda is that if you want the world to remember you always, then make sure you have at least one belief in life and relate all your actions revolve around it.