Every Friday morning, a mother-and-son duo at Kulandaivelu Street stops passers-by and serves them rice gruel and pickle. Susanna Myrtle Lazarus reports

Early on Friday mornings, passersby on Kulandaivelu Street in Purasaiwalkam are pleasantly surprised by an offering of kanji from a bespectacled man.

For K. Ganesh and his mother, Ramani Kandavelu, it is a weekly ritual they have performed for eight years now.

Every Friday morning, they hand out a hearty, warm, rice gruel along with pickle.

Ganesh, who runs an Internet browsing centre in the neighbourhood, says, “We want to give everyone a good meal to start off the day. It is important to those who are on their way to work.”

Long-time residents of the corner house on Kulandaivelu Street, the mother and son were inspired by the teachings of Arutprakasa Vallalar Chidambaram Ramalingam or Vallalar as the saint is commonly known. Mrs. Kandavelu says, “We used to provide rice and donate money to the foundation in Thiru Vi Ka Nagar. One of the elders there suggested that we spread the love in our own neighbourhood.” They provide the money to the foundation.

It’s not just the working class who stop to take a glassful or more. Those in cars and bikes too stop to partake of their hospitality.

Then there are the regulars like S.S. Ramesh, who has been making the weekly stopover for the past one year. “I deliver newspapers and run errands for shopkeepers here in the morning. After that, I work as a delivery man for a company on Godown Street. I look forward to Friday mornings as I can talk to Ramani madam and Ganesh sir,” he says.

Mrs. Kandavelu is very interested in the lives of the people who visit her regularly and reels off a list of achievements of the children who used to stop by and chat with her on their way to school while having a quick glass of kanji. “Some of them are in very good jobs. When they shared their troubles, we did the best we could to help them so I am happy that they have done well for themselves,” she says as she enquires with a lady about how her granddaughter is doing.

Ganesh downplays the contribution they have been making to those around them by saying that it is just a small gesture.

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