Food

Minu’s fridge filled with goodness

Food a door away: Minu Pauline with the refrigerator in front of her eatery. Photo: Thulasi Kakkat

Food a door away: Minu Pauline with the refrigerator in front of her eatery. Photo: Thulasi Kakkat  

Nanma Maram, a refrigerator that stores food for the homeless and the hungry.

Most restaurateurs install big fridges inside their kitchens, Minu Pauline’s 420 litre fridge is on the road outside her restaurant. The 28-year-old banker turned restaurateur says she did this for a very specific reason: She wanted to feed many more people than just her customers.

Nanma Maram (the tree of goodness) is an idea that banks on innate kindness, on empathy and hope. Judging by the enthusiastic flurry of attention and press, it’s also an idea that has the potential to trigger a powerful wave of enthusiastic volunteerism and sharing. “I have often seen the homeless and the hungry, especially the aged, rummage through garbage scouring for food. Looking for some leftovers or stale food to quell their hunger, and it disturbs me,” she says, explaining why her new outlet of ‘Pappadavada’ opened with this unusual refrigerator installed outside.

Called Nanma Maram, her central idea is simple: preventing food wastage by giving away surplus food to the hungry. The maram (tree) comes from the Cassia Fistula (konna) tree under which it is set. The fridge was installed just a few days ago, and Minu ensures it’s filled with food everyday.

Minu’s original restaurant, ‘Pappadavada’, which opened on M.G. Road about three years ago, specialises in local food: appams, egg curry and – of course – pappadavadas (a local tea shop favourite, these are papads dipped in a rice batter and then fried.) While this outlet is currently closed for renovation, she launched a second ‘Pappadavada’ this week, along with the Nanma Maram fridge.

She currently leaves around 50 packets of food in it for anybody who is hungry. “I was asked, ‘What if someone, not necessarily needy, took the food?’ My answer was ‘I’ll just put my faith in the goodness of the folks’.”

Minu’s fairly comfortable with going on a limb, and hoping for the best. Three years ago she quit a fairly cushy bank job to chase her dream of doing something different, which is when she launched ‘Pappadavada’. She says she “isn’t particularly fond of playing safe and being comfortable.” Nanma Maram is an extension of that philosophy. It’s partly a way for her to do her bit for the hungry and homeless, but she’s also taking a chance on the kindness of others. She says that this project isn’t about her doing something as an individual; she wants it to trigger a movement across the city. From home to hotels, wherever there is a chance of surplus food being wasted, she hopes people will consider sharing instead.

Meanwhile, she has committed to stocking 50 packets of food, from her end, everyday. Today, it is upma, “I am not saying I am going to give biriyani, but I will ensure there is food inside,” she says, adding “There will be something here everyday, and eventually I hope there will be so much that no hungry person will leave here hungry.” Although it has only been running for a couple of days, the food in the fridge is already feeding many, starting with the homeless people who live in the locality.

The fridge will be open to anyone 24/7. Anybody can leave food, or take some out, anytime of the day. Minu’s only conditions are that the food being left inside should be neatly packed and not stale. She has left a marker, so that people, mandatorily, put a date on the pack so that she can ensure the quality of the food. “Someone asked me why I bothered to set up a fridge, when I could just put food out for people in a tray. But that is the whole point of installing a fridge – so food won’t spoil.” She also discourages people buying food from her shop to leave in the freezer. “That's not at all my aim; I don’t want to make money out of this. This is not a campaign to make people invest more in charity; the idea is to use what you already have, to donate the food that you might waste.”

The fridge is put outside Papadavada opposite the exit from the Kaloor bus stand, at the beginning of the Kaloor-Kathrikadavu road. Minu can be reached at www.facebook.com/Pappadavada

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Printable version | May 31, 2020 7:32:34 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/Food/Minu%E2%80%99s-fridge-filled-with-goodness/article14177978.ece

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