This ‘Shravan’ is what abandoned parents in Mira-Bhayander wish they had

Dr. Uday Modi  

Elderly citizens in the Mira-Bhayander area call Dr. Uday Modi ‘Shravan Kumar’, the obedient son from Hindu mythology, while some know him only as the ‘tiffin doctor’. The Ayurvedic practitioner, apart from free consultancy, supplies one-course meals to hundreds of abandoned aged parents every day.

While he takes pride in being identified by different sobriquets, the rise in number of senior citizens being deserted by their children worries Dr. Modi.

“When I started this service in my house in 2008, my wife, Kalpana, would cook for just 11 people. Now, the number has gone up to 235 with 78 on the waiting list,” he said.

Dr. Modi has been running Shravan Tiffin Seva for 11 years. Each tiffin box contains six chapatis, a curry, dal and rice. On Sundays, he serves a home-made dessert and some farsan.

Of the two kitchens he operates from, one prepares only diabetic food.

What moved him

The story behind the initiative dates back to August 2008, when a couple in their late 70s showed up at his clinic. “The woman was chronically ill and her husband didn’t have money even to buy a vada pav. Their plight moved me, and I then decided to feed needy old people,” he said.

The 51-year-old doctor said the daily expenses of running two kitchens, two tempos, and 11 workers, including delivery boys and chapati makers, comes to around ₹40,000, which he manages through donations. If there is a fund shortage, he spends from his savings and his family too supports him in every way possible.

“My son and daughter also save their pocket money, keep it in piggy banks, and hand it over to me in the first week of every month,” Dr. Modi said.

Manoharlal Chunilal Sheth (71) and Usha Manoharlal Sheth (67), who live in a dingy room packed with household belongings, have been depending on his tiffin service for four years. “At this age, when we have nowhere to go, Dr. Modi is the saviour. Once we have a sumptuous lunch, we arrange something for dinner with others’ help,” Mr. Sheth said. Ms. Sheth, whose right hand is paralysed and who can’t properly walk due to age-related illnesses, uses a helping stick that Dr. Modi had bought her.

Similar sentiments were expressed by 65-year-old Devyani Vohra, who was one of the first beneficiaries of Dr. Modi’s kitchen service. “But ever since I was bedridden following a surgery one year ago, this free lunch has been my only hope. For dinner, vada pav and chutney is my fixed menu.”

For Bhanumati Pravinchandra Doshi (70) and his son, who both are differently-abled, the arrival of the delivery boy with the tiffin box is the only good news of the day.

The irony, according to Dr. Modi, is that most of these old parents are lonely, and feel embarrassed to admit that they have been left by their children to fend for themselves. “In all these years, I have never been able to understand what it takes for children to provide two rotis to their parents.”

Bringing cheer

To bring happiness to these people, who have for long stopped smiling, the doctor and his team organise Navratri, Diwali, Independence Day, and birthday celebrations.

On the bright side, Dr. Modi has acquired 25,000 square feet in Uttan, Bhayander, where he plans to set up Dikra Nu Ghar, a home for the elderly. “Construction work will start after the monsoon and the building will be ready by March next year. Initially, we will admit 70 people whose every basic need will be taken care of,” he said.

Originally hailing from Amreli near Rajkot, Gujarat, Dr. Modi also acts in Hindi and Gujarati television serials, and Gujarati films.

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Printable version | Nov 25, 2021 9:27:21 AM |

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