M. Kamalathal, 82, also fondly known as Paatima (grandmother), runs a 30-year-old eatery from her home in Vadivelampalayam on the outskirts of Coimbatore, that looks like any other building in a village from the outside. The 82-year-old sells her sought after idli's at Re.1 each! Ms. Kamalathal wakes up at 5 a.m. every day, and prepares her idli batter, and chutney too using a traditional grinding stone. She opens the doors for diners at 6 a.m. and closes at noon, sometimes sooner, depending on how much batter she is left with.
When asked how many idlis she steamed every day, she said, “I use eight kg of rice for the batter, I don’t have a count on the number."
Kamalathal has been serving upto 1000 idlis per day at the minimal cost Re.1/idli for years now. Despite her wrinkled, bespectacled face, thin frame, and a slightly hunched back, she appears as sprightly as a middle-aged person, running the cramped eatery all by herself.
She further said that P. Aarthi, the wife of her grandson keeps her company during the day time. Aarthi then said that Kamalathal likes to do everything by herself and even chooses her own firewood. With the number of customers visiting the eatery slowly increasing from 7 a.m. onward, Ms. Kamalathal cooks without a pause in her traditional idli vessel.
Chairperson of the Mahindra group, Anand Mahindra spotted Kamalathal's small business and made an earnest request on social media to help the Coimbatore Idli seller and offered to buy an LPG fueled stove for her. He took to twitter and shared her story.
One of those humbling stories that make you wonder if everything you do is even a fraction as impactful as the work of people like Kamalathal. I notice she still uses a wood-burning stove.If anyone knows her I’d be happy to ‘invest’ in her business & buy her an LPG fueled stove. pic.twitter.com/Yve21nJg47— anand mahindra (@anandmahindra) September 10, 2019
However, Bharat Gas Coimbatore (BPCL) immediately issued an LPG connection to the idli-vendor after the request of Anand Mahindra.