A matka is an Indian clay pot traditionally used to store and keep water cold

Delhi is thirsty. I am using matkas to provide drinking water to poor people. I have developed and set up more than 15 Matka stands with over 80 matkas all over my neighbourhood in South Delhi . The stands have a sign with my personal telephone number so people can notify me when a matka is empty, and a bench where there’s space to sit. The matkas need around 2000 litres a day in the summer months. I maintain their water levels and the stands daily with my van (see below). The water was originally supplied by a school nearby and two kind souls. But now I have been able to get water directly from Delhi Jal Board free of change.

Made with Padlet

Food Distribution

I prepare nutritious food to distribute to the working classes of my neighbourhood with a focus on construction labourers. I go out twice/thrice a week and each time serve approximately 200-250 people at  2-3 construction sites. I offer food to security guards and drivers along the way.

Most of the food is made by our “super chef” Rani at our home. We fill our recipes with healthy and nutritious ingredients. At the moment we are serving three main meals with salt lassi (chaach):

  1.  A mixed bean curry which contains 5 types of beans and 5 seasonal vegetables. It comes with a wheat grain and onion and cucumber raita.
  2. A curd rice with a mustard seed and curry leaves tempering. This is served with a potato and seasonal vegetable curry.
  3. A samosa or bread pakora (sourced from a local vendor). This is served with homemade rice halwa that is sweetened with pure jaggery. It also contains raisons, cashews and pistachios.

As you can see from the pictures I have customised my van for this purpose and tried to be as eco-friendly as possible. I use stainless steel plates and cutlery and my van is fitted with a hygenic dishwashing system.

Cucumber Peeling - Matka Man - Alag Natarajan

Cycle Pumps

Delhi roads are hard on cycles. I have placed around 100 cycle pumps in my neighbourhood to give poor people the flexibility to fill air 24/7. Some are stand alone units and some are part of the Matka Stands. I also distribute glow in the dark stickers for safety purposes and spare nozzles for their wheels.

My Van & My Truck

All the activity mentioned above is carried out and maintained primarily through two vehicles. I have always had a small van. Initially I used it for both my food and water distribution, however in September 2021 using my pension, my life savings and donations from well-wishers, I purchased a Mahindra Bolero maxi-truck. With this I can carry much more water at a time; it is fitted with two 1000-litre water tanks. Now I use my smaller van just for the food distribution.

I have engineered both my vans as a spectacle. I want to draw attention to my project and I enjoy the artistry of the work. You will find videos and pictures of my vehicles below.