For 80-year-old K Kamalathal, ‘idli’ is not just a food, but a way to make people happy.
Fondly known as ‘idli amma’, she sells idlis for arguably the best price in the country at just one rupee per piece with sambar and chutney. Refusing to hike prices, she realises that most of her customers who are daily wage workers, cannot afford her famed breakfast staple if she increases the rates.
Does she manage to make profits? Marginally yes. But that is not her priority, as she is more concerned about satisfying the appetite of the poor, needy and hungry.
Hailing from Vadivelampalayam village on the outskirts of Coimbatore, Kamalathal has been running her business from a tiny shanty shop in Coimbatore for over 30 years, all by herself.
The octogenarian first appeared in the headlines in September 2019 when Mahindra Group chairman Anand Mahindra tweeted about her story and expressed his willingness to ‘invest’ in her business by buying her an LPG stove.
“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,” he had tweeted.
Help started pouring in from various quarters immediately. Following Mahindra’s viral tweet, Bharat Gas Coimbatore offered Idli Amma a new LPG connection.
However, now, he has gone the extra mile and arranged for ‘idli amma’ to have her own house-cum-workspace - the construction of which his real estate team will “soon start as per Kamalathal’s requirement.”
“Only rarely does one get to play a small part in someone’s inspiring story, and I would like to thank Kamalathal, better known as Idli Amma, for letting us play a small part in hers. She will soon have her own house cum workspace from where she will cook & sell idli,” Mahindra tweeted.
Many others too came forward to praise her for her work. In trying times like the pandemic, one needs courage and a heart like Kamalathal who defies all odds and takes the well-being of the underprivileged into consideration, disregarding profits and her own benefit.
Kamalathal is a saviour for the people around her, and proves exactly what heroes look like.
(Edited by Amrita Ghosh)