It's a small world | Milaap

It's a small world

We always hear, “the world is a small place.” But it just feels so much better when you’re the one sharing your story, so here’s mine. For one of my field visits, I had to go to Muniguda, a green hilly town in the Rayagada district of Odisha.
To keep me company were two TISS employees about my age, who had been working in Muniguda for a while now, to promote and improve the marketability of the Dokra Art for their social stint. We all stayed at a lodge, which was about 5kms from the office. And our office drive was fabulous, though the mountain paths. We would actually feel the temperature drop, on our commute, due to the greenery and the hills around.
As a ritual, every morning, we would go to the same place for breakfast. We called him, our “Breakfast uncle.” I genuinely believe that if you thoroughly enjoy your breakfast, the rest of your day cannot go bad. I was there for 4 days, and every day we had something new, equally yum. Idli, dosa, poha and samosa!
After talking to him on my third day, I found out, he starts his breakfast joint, every morning by 6 am and shuts it by 10 am. On our first day, we went for breakfast at 9 am and it was as crowded as a Zara showroom during Christmas sale. “9 am is peak hours” as he calls it while he chuckles. We started going at 8:30 am from the next day.
Unfortunately, one of the days I was there, there was a strike, which in normal circumstances just means work from home, but the TISS employees and I did not know where to get food from! And guess who was our saviour even that morning? Yes. Breakfast uncle. Sneakily he gave us 5 samosas, before shutting stop, cause violence was beginning to boil post 7:30 am.
On my last day, my field officer was taking me around to visit the borrowers, when he stopped at a store and said, “The owner of this shop is also a Milaap borrower.” I almost jumped with excitement when I told him, I actually know the owner, I have breakfast every morning here. So of course, the next borrower I had to meet was breakfast uncle and his wife, Mamata.
When I knocked on their door, uncle opened and looked at me perplexed, “we just served you dosa in the morning, are you hungry again?” I laughed.
Mamata’s husband, our very own breakfast uncle, had a betel store which he wanted to expand. So, Mamata took a loan from Mahashakti Foundation (Milaap's field partner in Odisha), to help in the expansion. Being a great cook, uncle decided to not only add more items to his store but also to start out with selling breakfast. Very low-key and everyday items such as Idli, dosa and vada. But what was special about them was just how yum they were. In no time, he realized the demand was high and added samosas and poha too. All the breakfast items would sell like hotcakes! On some days, he’d shut shop at 9:30 am itself, cause he would run out of the ingredients to make the items.
They just wanted to add more items to their betel store but this idea of providing breakfast on the side as well as a massive hit. Not to forget, highly profitable too! With the considerably increased income, Mamata was able to marry off her daughter in some style. And then later, they even constructed a concrete pucca house for themselves. They now have a fridge and tv at home and have shifted to a bigger store now, considering now their primary business is to provide breakfast to people.

As I bid them goodbye, they had a huge smile on their face as they had learnt that I am a fellow at Milaap, the organization that was critical in them procuring the loan that has single-handedly change their life for the good. Seeing an impact this close and personal, Breakfast Uncle is a story that will always stay close to my heart.