Moving story of food vendor couple goes viral; foodies gather for help

New Delhi: Even the looming threat of COVID-19 could not deter the South Delhi foodies to queue up in front of three-decade-old 'Baba ka Dhaba', run by an octogenarian couple, on Thursday.

But what's so special about the humble dhaba in Malviya Nagar that attracted a large number of customers that posh restaurants, all geared up to fight the coronavirus threat, couldn't? Is it the humble, but hearty serve of rice, vegetables, matar paneer and parathas; or the fact that the roadside eatery is being run by a couple in their eighties? Had these been the reason, the owner won't have faced a paucity of customers after reopening the stall post lockdown.

According to owner Kanta Prasad, who has been running the small food joint since 1990, business almost came to a standstill during the lockdown phase. On days, he was not even able to cover the expenses.

His wife Badami Devi said at times they had to take the unsold food back home; while on days they didn't even have money to cook their own meals.

What changed overnight? Nothing, but a small video that went viral on social media. So, you thought viral videos just give negative publicity! Think twice and watch the one on 'Baba Ka Dhaba'.

The moving story of the elderly couple, whom even their children have ditched, brought the community together in a humanitarian effort to rebuild their dhaba and hence lives.

All thanks to Gaurav Wasan who shared a video narrating their ordeals that went on to become viral in no time.

"It's all because of Gauravji, the customers have lined up today (Thursday); yesterday there was almost no sale. I feel that the whole country is with me today," Prasad told ANI here. Prasad's wife, Badami Devi said that they did not receive any help neither from the government nor from their family. "Our children do not look after us, neither our son nor daughter," Badami Devi said, thanking Gaurav for becoming their saviour.

"Many people have come since (Thursday) morning, several for tea, some have taken away cooked food items. I hope this flow of customers continues in the coming days too," she added.

Wasan, a self-proclaimed foodie, said he had come across the elderly couple purely by chance and had been moved by their ordeals.

"I am very passionate about food, so I keep searching for good street food. Two days back I saw the couple facing difficulties in selling their food. I talked to them. It was around 1.30 pm and they said they had done business worth just Rs 70 till then, this brought tears to my eyes. They then told me that nowadays they were incurring a loss of around Rs 200-300 a day: selling food worth Rs 300-400 throughout a day, while the raw material cost was around Rs 600. So I made a video on the spot and shared it," he said.

Looking at the long queue outside the shop on Thursday, Wasan said that he even received donations for the couple.

"We have collected around Rs 2 lakh, enough to renovate their house and shop. But rather than financial help they need your support to run their show. Please come to this place and enjoy their food. This will give them satisfaction," he urged his fellow foodies.

In the video, Wasan even urged people to help similar small-time food vendors who are trying to pick up the pieces after the Covid-induced lockdown.

The video was shared widely on Instagram and Twitter among other social platforms.

A food lover who came to the joint said that they were moved by the story of the couple and would keep coming back, along with their friends and family.

Thursday's queue saw a wide array of customers from artists to business developers.

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