I grew up in Bangalore. As a young adult, I left home for London to visit my sister on a tourist visa, and ended up staying there for 40 years. In the UK I became a business man, running joke and souvenir shops in London and started a family. Then, 10 years ago I was diagnosed with intestinal cancer.
I am cancer free living in Delhi now and trying to do what I can to help those in need with the means available to me. When I first returned I was working on creating more sturdy and efficient cycle rickshaws. Since then I have offered my skills to an orphanage, to a last-stage cancer hospice, served langar (food) to the homeless in Chandni Chowk and carried out the cremation of destitutes to give them a dignified end. In 2014 in the smothering heat of the Delhi summer, I turned my attention to water. After seeing so many people going thirsty, I began thinking how can I help them? This work has now expanded to encompass a much larger range of activities for the poor.
Through this work, I have come to believe that we are all crucially linked together but that society today has abandoned this interconnectedness. For this reason, I work now with my immediate community in Panchsheel Park and South Delhi. I wish to help those in need around me and also to inspire people to help those around them. Perhaps then, I can start a quiet revolution of human kindness.
Matkaman is a family run social enterprise. It would not be possible without the support of these people.
I am eternally grateful to my mother-in-law whose property I live in and operate Matkaman from. She now suffers from Dementia but she was my first donor and has always supported my work. A Buddhist practitioner of the Soka Gakkai faith she showed by example kindness, dignity and patience.
Vishnu has worked and lived in our home for over 15 years. For the last 6 years he has been hired specifically to help me with Matkaman. He is able to do all the work independently, including feeding the needy. On his own initiative he even learnt welding, a skill that has been crucial to developing the tools needed for my work eg. matka stands, my van, fittings for the cycle pumps and more. As I get older, he takes on more and more of these responsibilities.
Rani, Vishnu’s wife, has also worked and lived in our home for over 15 years. A core member of our family, we would be absolutely helpless without her. Her South Indian cooking is unparalleled and all Matkaman recipes are pioneered by her eg. nutritious salads and omlettes and jaggery herbal tea.
My wife Seeta is an administrative genius and generously lends her skills to Matkaman. She has managed all my operations and finances from the very beginning and over the years has facilitated some challenging moments.
Natasha is my only child. She came up with the name ‘Matkaman’ and developed this website to promote my work. She continues to udpate it today. Under the name Chikaboo Designs she works as an artist-educator in London.
Need I say more?
He’s the only unleashed pet dog in our colony because I believe in born free live free.