Pics: Dayanand Kukkaje
Daijiworld Media Network - Mangaluru (RJP)
Mangaluru, Dec 27: 'Halli Mane Rotties', a popular mobile canteen near Sanghaniketan in Mannagudde here is a unique place, for it is run entirely by a woman, all by herself.
Shilpa (32), originally from Hassan, is the owner, chef and manager of 'Halli Mane Rotties'. The place operates only in the evenings from 5 pm to 10 pm. Shilpa has received numerous requests from customers to keep the place open from morning. But the problem is, Shilpa alone has to procure the ingredients, cook the food and manage the financials of the business.
Shilpa is not an ordinary woman entrepreneur, but a woman who has risen from misery. She may not hold business degree from a reputable college. She has definitely seen difficulties in life and she knows how to come out from them. She is a role model not only to women but men also.
Her life in her village was good as she hailed from a well-to-do family. She got married to a man from Mangaluru in 2005 and started living in the city. Her parents who were sick also started staying with her as there was no one to look after them then. Life went on well until the fate changed.
Shilpa’s husband who ran a transport business one day went to Bengaluru with a promise that he would return with the money owed to him. But he never returned. Shilpa became helpless. She did not know what to do and where to go. She did not have any relatives to who she could go. “Forget about paying the rent, I did not even have money to buy half a litre of milk for my child who was three years then," she says. She did not give up. She did maid servant's job for a few years, but the money was not enough to feed four mouths. She thought there was no way out. But there was.
Shilpa had inherited the art of fine cooking from her mother. She also had the habit of watching cookery shows on television. One fine day she felt that she should venture into cooking and serving food items to customers. But how would she do it without any help? She had Rs 1 lac kept aside for her son's education. With great difficulty she dared to touch that money. She knew if she lost it, she would never recover and would be difficult for her son to study. That amount served as seed capital for her business. Then she got some confidence and took help from women self-help groups. She bought a vehicle and modified it to make a mobile canteen. The canteen was open for public one day.
But Shilpa had fear in her mind. The menu consisted mainly of Rotis from other parts of Karnataka. It did not even have a single item from the coast. She had Jola (corn) ragi and rice rotis in the menu. People from Mangaluru hardly knew about those rotis. She did not know whether those things will be liked here. But her apprehension was wrong. She started doing well from the first day. She added new items like Methi rice, Tomato rice, Bisibele baath, thatte idli to the menu. Ragi Mudde which was served only on Sundays is served everyday now. Gatti chutney served at the canteen is very popular. Some special thick sambar is also served with the items.
The first canteen was opened near Gandhi park, but due to some problems, it had to be shifted to a place near Mangala stadium. But again it had to shift the base to the current venue. It is nine months since Shilpa started her business.
Shilpa wants to maintain the quality the food items she sells. She keeps the recipes to herself though many people demand to know the recipes mainly that of gatti chutney. She goes to the market in the early morning and buys all the ingredients herself. She orders few ingredients from her native place just to keep the high quality. She spends the whole day in preparation and opens the canteen in the evening.
Her clientele list consists of who is who of Mangaluru in addition to the common people. When you want to eat at this canteen make sure that you have enough time to wait because there can be rush at times. She sells only around 500 rotis a day. Special orders need to be order in advance. Even from hotels she gets orders. Hoteliers sell these items at a higher price.
Shilpa’s younger brother too has joined her in her business now. Father too is there to help. Mother looks after her son who is in fifth standard now.
The food here is not expensive. But it is not even very cheap. You can a plate of roti for Rs30 to Rs 40. You can find around 15 stools to sit and two tables. The surrounding under the tree is clean.
"I want to give healthy and hygienic food at reasonable price " Shilpa says about her food. Then what about life ? Life is tough until you make it easy," she says.