“I truly believe that if you're healthy - age is just a number,” says 77-year-old grandmother Urmila Jamnadas Asher who has become the family’s strength at this age. Every stage of her life made her stronger and motivated to do more for her family.
She had three children, all of whom have passed away. Her daughter was around 2-years-old when she accidentally fell off a building and died, her older son died of brain tumour and the younger one died due to heart failure. She was the one who held the family together and motivated all to not lose hope. When her only grandson, Harsh Asher met with an accident and disfigured his face, once again she became the family’s strength.
Currently, Urmila is helping Harsh set up his future with 'GujjuBen Na Nasta', a small food business where they deliver fresh, home-cooked snacks all over Mumbai. In conversation with Asian Voice, Harsh shares their story and plans ahead.
1. Why did you name the start-up 'GujjuBen Na Nasta'?
It came naturally. Gujaratis love to travel and one of our favourite travel companions is ‘theplas’ and loads of other ‘nasta’ (snacks). Our mother and grandmother never forget to slide in that pack of khakras and theplas into the trolley bag. Hence, this name is not only dedicated to all the mothers and grandmothers who lovingly make their nasta and cherish it, but also a testimony to my grandmother’s dedication
2. At the age of 77, what motivates your grandmother to work for 80 hours a week?
What cricket is to Sachin, cooking is to my grandmother. She does not require any motivation. She's so passionate about cooking that she forgets about time. She starts working at 7 in the morning and leaves the kitchen at 9pm, after all orders for the day have been delivered.
3. How do you manage so many orders at a time?
It started with a very small idea and we were not aware that this would take off so well. Initially, we were making dry nasta like ‘chivdas’ but now we also serve healthy and hygienic home cooked Gujarati meals. We have divided the work smartly. Daadi (grandmother) is usually in charge of the kitchen along with few other members and is always keeping a tab on what's selling more, while we grandchildren take care of the marketing and business development.
4. Did you ever think that your grandmother’s hobby would turn into a full-fledged startup, that too in the unprecedented times of pandemic?
Honestly, it started more like a passion inherited from my super enthusiastic grandmother. Daadi inspired me with her dedication for making of delicious food recipes and her mission of encouraging people to have "strictly homemade food". We innovated to attract the taste buds of today's youth with dishes like Manchurian Sticks, Vadapav Khakra, Mini Paneer Samosas, Wheat Chips and a lot more.
5. What are the future plans of expansion?
We want to take Daadi's love for cooking and her tasty and comforting nasta across the world so that Gujaratis as well as Indians don't miss out on the authentic, home cooked meals. We would also like foreigners to try out Daadi's delicious snacks & meals because we are confident that it will be loved by one and all.