Went Hungry During Lockdown, Started Langar to Feed All in Indore
Shivam Soni started a food stall that sells meals for as less than Rs 10.
Video Editor: Ashutosh Bhardwaj
Video Producer: Aastha Gulati
I am a 23-year-old college dropout, born in Sagar, Madhya Pradesh. Most of my adult life has been spent at ‘Sweet 16’ – our family restaurant and tiffin service. Even before coronavirus changed our lives, my rough patch had begun. I had incurred huge losses that forced me to shut the business and also sell our family home to pay off the debts. My family, comprising of my mother and two younger brothers, were banking on me to earn our bread.
In March 2020, with a few COVID restrictions in place, I took a bus to Indore in hopes of a new beginning – I had put no thinking into this. A bus was going towards Indore, and I thought to myself, why not? I was positive that I would find employment opportunities in the largest metropolitan city in central India.
Little did I know, just a few days later, our prime minister would impose a nationwide lockdown. I had no way to return home, and no hopes of finding a job amid a pandemic. I was struggling to earn meals, I had nothing to eat.
There was a time I had to sleep on the streets. I slept inside MY Hospital and on the railway station, even. I used to stay hungry for two days straight. Luckily, the people of Indore helped a lot as they used to distribute food packets daily.
To make ends meet, I took a job as a security guard. I then worked for three months at Hardia Hospital as security guard and saved around Rs 20,000-30,000.
With this money, I thought to start a small food stall that will be affordable to all. Having received so much help from the people of Indore, I thought I too should do something for them.
Hence, in November 2020, I started ‘Hunger Langar’. The name was inspired by a langar I ate at a Gurdwara. Their selfless service had touched me.
It has been a few months since we started, and the response has been very welcoming. Our food is available at a pricing that doesn't burn a hole in someone's pocket. For example, a masala dosa is priced at Rs 10 and so is sambhar-idli, biryani, vada sambhar, et al.
We have a free langar every Thursday. If someone wants to pay, they can, but if someone doesn't have the means, they may eat free of cost. My mother, brothers and friends are to be credited for setting up and running this langar.
It may not be a unique idea but I am proud of what I have been able to achieve. It has been my aim to be able to feed everyone, so that no one goes hungry. All this inspired me to persevere and move on, and not accept defeat. Success and failure are a part of life.
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