“My children are everything to me, I can go to any limits for them,” says 30-something Urvashi Yadav who has opened a chole-kulcha stall on the streets of Gurgaon in Sector-14.
This is hardly new. Many women with limited education but good cooking skills earn their living from food stalls. But Yadav comes from a wealthier layer of society. She lives in an upmarket neighbourhood in Gurgaon. Her family owns two cars, and her kids study at one of the best schools in town. Yet, Yadav has been running this food stall for one-and-a-half months to sustain her family.
Yadav’s husband met with an accident that cost him his job at a firm of architects. This happened in 2010. Since then the family has been struggling to survive. Since Yadav did not want her children to lose out on the good things of life, she decided to turn her cooking skills into a business, and now she takes home between Rs 3000 to Rs 5,000 a day.
“It felt weird in the beginning,” says Yadav about her street food business. “I even felt stressed when people spoke to me. And coming from a home with air-conditioners, dealing with the heat on the street during my working hours of 8 am to 4 pm is a real challenge.”
But her family must not only survive, but thrive, believes Yadav. So she will stand behind her stall opposite Gulab Sweets every day.
Yadav’s relatives do not like the idea of a family member working on the street, but she ignores them. “That’s because my father supports me,” she says. “He even offered to open a shop for me but I refused since I did not know if this would work. I did not want him to suffer a loss. But I also know that no one but me will feed my children when the need arises. I have to do this on my own.”
Impressed with the story of the founder of KFC who failed about a thousand times before the fried chicken brand became a hit, Yadav is aiming high. As her business continues to grow, she wants a food truck and then a restaurant.
Women who turn problems into opportunities are not just strong, but also difficult to suppress, as Yadav proves. We hope she continues to cook up a storm.