Coimbatore’s Paatima (grandmother), M. Kamalathal, is an 82-year-old woman who has dedicated her life to the service of common people in Tamil Nadu. She has been preparing and serving idlis for ₹1 since the last 30 years. Committed towards her work for the longest time, she is not sure for how long she could continue working. Paatima works for six and a half hours starting at 5:30 in the morning, she sells at least 400 to 500 idlis in a day.
M Kamalathal: I am 82 years old now & I don’t know for how long this will continue. There is nobody with me in my family. I am alone. I work from 5:30 am till 12 noon. I don’t expect profit out of this. Only little which I get,I use for my livelihood. I sell 400-500 idlis daily. https://t.co/W8zHmwnCQ9 pic.twitter.com/V0mddezCuA— ANI (@ANI) September 14, 2019
Vadivelampalayam in the outskirts of Coimbatore houses Paatima’s small idli shop. Living alone at 82, Paatima sets a great example for old age independent individuals. She says, “I have sold idli at 50 paise for 10 years and ₹1 for the last 20 years. I used to cook on a traditional stove, but I have recently received an LPG connection. Although the raw materials are expensive, I manage to make a ₹100-150 profit each day, it takes approximately ₹300 to make 500 idlis. I decided to open my own business because if I would’ve worked for another person, I wouldn’t have made any more money than I do now.” Positive about her dedication to serving people she said, “I have never had a loss, I am a businesswoman and I make sure that I don’t go in loss. At the same time, I am happy with the minimal profit I make. There are more idli stores nearby but I don’t fear any competition, they do their business in their own way and I do mine in my own way.”
Her happy customers satisfied by her service also had a few things to say. Ramakrishnan, who is not a regular customer, said, “I heard about this place and I was intrigued to come here, she serves idli at ₹1 in these times when the raw materials are so expensive. Also, these idlis are really good and fluffy just like any other good restaurant.” Velmurugan, a devoted daily customer of Paatima said, “I run a shoe store nearby and all my employees along with me come to Paatima’s (grandmother’s) place to have idli. I don’t come here because they are cheap, but I come here because her idlis are very tasty. She only makes breakfast over here, but sometimes on our request, she makes lunch too. The days when my employees and I don’t have money she gives us the idlis for free.”
Her works and efforts were acknowledged by Chairman of Mahindra Group, Anand Mahindra. He tweeted about Paatima and asked businesses to invest in it. Impressed by Paatima’s dedication he also made a request for an LPG gas cylinder for her. Replying to his tweet Bharatgas Coimbatore said that they have issued an LPG connection to Ms. Kamalathal. Paatima has been cooking on a proper gas stove with LPG cylinder since then.
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