40 kitchens bustle with activity on a Saturday morning, as scrumptious dishes are prepared.
These are no commonplace kitchens, no boring dishes and definitely no ordinary hands preparing the meals.
I refer to a Saturday from my beautiful residential community nestled in north Bengaluru—Godrej Woodsman Estate, Hebbal.
Here in our society, some 70 of us decided to prepare meals for the 120 staff members (housekeeping, security, technical and gardening), every Saturday of the month.
To keep the spread simple, each month we serve four main dishes and one sweet dish prepared by the volunteers of our 70-member team.
The planning begins with a three-member team which decides on the menu (typically a South Indian spread–poori, chole, bisi bele bath, rice and curds and payasam), keeping in mind the ease of doling out a dish and the availability of resources for each household.
We then post the menu on the “Happy Meals” WhatsApp group, and with a show of hands in the group, the members are split into five food teams. Each sub-team then shares one recipe for the food item.
On the decided Saturday, the volunteers carry their preparations to the Party Hall of our society’s Community Centre where the staff is served the meals.
Most recently, even the children offered to participate. The idea was to make the staff feel at home, loved and cared for, while they performed their duties.
This group was formed in July 2017 and served meals from August 2017.
It started with some residents feeling unhappy with the work performance of the staff. There seemed to be a gap between the two parties.
To bridge this gap, a thought came to my mind—of the residents and Managing Committee—joining hands to serve the staff.
An idea was floated to the Managing Committee to provide the Party hall and tent house arrangements (plates, bowls, spoons, burner containers with serving spoons, serving tables with covers and drinking water).
This gesture of serving through “Happy Meals” was then shared with the residents on the society’s email portal.
Very soon, a group of volunteers came forward to express their gratitude by preparing meals. It started with 25 residents and slowly grew by word of mouth.
The staff, in turn, has now warmed up to the gesture, and with the rapport established, working together to resolve issues has become a little less challenging. There are still glitches in work, but by making the staff feel at home, the quality is slowly but surely, improving.
It felt nice one day when one of the staff members, Romen Dolley, said, “I come from northeast India, and when I eat this meal, at least that day, I don’t miss my home too much.”
Padmavati, a gardener in our society, added, “We really thank you from our hearts and bless you all for giving us home meals every month.”
On hearing such comments, one of the residents said, “It is the most satisfying feeling.”
Another volunteer shared, “I get the same feeling as I get while preparing prasad for God…I will only get blessings in return! I am fortunate to be able to serve them.”
We are sure that this commitment to serving those who serve them is going to continue.
Here’s to the amazing spirit of breaking barriers shown by the people of this residential society!
(Written by Priyanka Wagle and Edited by Shruti Singhal)