“A woman is like a tea bag – you never know how strong she is until she gets in hot water,” said Eleanor Roosevelt. An example of one such story of grit is that of Urvashi Yadav from Gurugram who did not know about her own strengths until she went through a hard test in life.
Urvashi Yadav belonged to a well-to-do Punjabi family. After finishing her graduation, she worked as a front office executive in the prestigious Intercontinental Hotel, Delhi. In 2004, she got married to Amit Yadav, son of retired Wing Commander N K Yadav. Amit worked as the facility manager in a reputed real estate company.
Soon they had two beautiful kids and were living happily in a joint family.
In 2010, Amit met with a small accident while playing cricket. Initially, the family ignored the injury but gradually the pain became unbearable. One of the nerves in Amit’s right leg was pressed in a way that blood flow had stopped.
“We met many doctors and were finally told that my husband might have to go for a hip replacement operation in the near future. But with medicines he felt better with time and hence I did not bother much about the future,” says Urvashi.
Time passed and Amit and Urvashi got engrossed in their busy life again. Once both her kids started going to school, Urvashi decided to restart her career. She did a diploma course in Modern Montessori International Teacher’s Training (MMI) in 2013 and started working as a nursery teacher in Kidzee Preschool. Life was going on exactly how she wanted, when suddenly one day in May 2016, Amit met with another accident at their house. This time, once again, he was hurt on the right leg and had a fracture in the right toe. Amit was advised bed rest for about two weeks.
“I never thought much of such situations. But that one fracture changed my entire perspective towards life. I kept thinking what would happen when Amit would go through a hip replacement operation. I wanted to do something to secure our future,” recalls Urvashi.
She discussed her concerns with her husband and confided that she wanted to quit her job and go for a better paying option which would help secure their future in the long run, even if Amit had to quit his job. The couple then started looking out for various options. They thought about numerous business ideas like starting a beauty parlour or a boutique, opening a restaurant or just taking tuitions. But all of them either required a huge investment or were hard to attract customers.
The very next day after this discussion Urvashi passed by a street vendor who was selling ‘chole kulche’ on his cart and an idea was born.
“I am very passionate about cooking and always wanted to own a restaurant. My husband and I thought about it too but then dropped the idea as we didn’t want to take another loan to invest in it. Moreover, there was no guarantee that customers would want to try a new food outlet,” says Urvashi.
She stopped by the street vendor and asked him all about his business, right from the investment to buying a cart and the profit made. She came to know that this business demanded the least investment, was within her approach, and the profit was quite high.
So she decided to have her own cart of chole kulche.
“You don’t have to have any marketing manager if you are selling your stuff on the road. People will feel hungry and they will come to you,” she points out.
When Urvashi outlined her plan to Amit, he was shocked. He said he was with Urvashi in her decision but was afraid if she would be able to sustain the hardships and the humiliation of doing something like this. But Urvashi assured him that she was determined to do this for the betterment of her family.
Amit’s father was the one who encouraged Urvashi the most by saying that she should not bother about what people say and do what her heart says.
“As a teacher, I taught my kids that no work is big or small and it was time to implement the same,” says Urvashi.Partner Story#MGChangemakers - Episode 2: THE 21-YEAR JOURNEY OF CHANGE | Driving India Into Future
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Urvashi took help from the street vendor she spoke to, and bought a cart, utensils, and all the raw material required to start her new business. On June 15, 2016, she took her cart to Sector 14 of Gurgaon and started selling chole kulche on the street. But it was not easy for a woman to work in this line of business. As expected, people teased her and passed negative comments. She narrates one incident when a customer took her phone number promising a bulk order and then kept harassing her by calling her late in the nights. She finally had to lodge a complaint against him.
But her family and friends’ support kept her going. And her prayers were answered just after 15 days when she met Sunali, a blogger who had heard Urvashi’s story at a gathering. She insisted on writing her story on her Facebook page. But little did they know that this Facebook post was going to change Urvashi’s destiny.
The story went viral in no time and she started getting customers from all over Gurgaon.
“People’s perspective changed after that post. They started looking at me with respect. Girls would come and tell me how I was an inspiration to them. It began to feel good,” says Urvashi.
Several other good things happened too after the social media booster. Urvashi got an offer from the Sharp Group to tie up for buying white peas required for her chole kulche cart. A biodegradable tableware company, Grabeco started supplying her plates and bowls.
Now she uses these hygienic biodegradable plates and bowls at her cart.
She has also started getting party orders and recently catered for the first anniversary of a startup called NearBuy.
Her husband has now quit his job due to health issues. But he helps Urvashi in her business.
“My parents have taught me that one should never stop anyone from doing any work. The mentality that a lady cannot go out and work on the streets needs to be changed. I am proud of my wife for what she is doing,” says Amit.
But the publicity also came with greater responsibilities. Urvashi has to be very careful about the quality and taste of the food she is serving because people come with great expectations. She also has to tackle questions about some rumours about her.
“Someone started a rumour stating that I owned a Rs. 3 crore house whereas the fact is that the house belongs to my father-in-law. There was another rumor about me owning two SUVs. People come and advise me to sell my house and cars instead of selling food on the street. I have to fend off such irritating queries all the time,” she says.
But in spite of all the hardships, Urvashi is determined to do what she is doing. The demonetization phase is also a little difficult for her but she has a positive attitude towards it.
She has started accepting PayTM payments for bulk orders and is also teaching other street vendors to use PayTM.
“Being the only educated person here, I feel it’s my responsibility to spread the knowledge that I have,” she says.
She has applied for a license for her cart and might get it soon after which she will be relocated to a new sector market allotted by the municipality. She has also planned to have a new surprise menu at the new joint.
“Eventually, I want to own a restaurant but only with my own earnings. I know my dreams are big but they will come true one day,” she says.
Urvashi’s 11-year-old daughter and 7-year-old son are also proud of her and they often point out her mom’s cart when they pass by on their school bus.
If you wish to contact Urvashi for party orders, please visit her Facebook page.
You can also visit her cart at Sector 14, Gate No. 5, M G Road, Opposite Gulab Restaurant, Gurgaon, Haryana.