This uplifting news comes to us from Coimbatore.
60 year old Sangeetha is a Coimbatore based transwoman who has a successful catering service running in the city. Even then, right after the extended lockdown had ended she used her power and position as the president of the Coimbatore District Transgender Welfare Association along with a substantial portion of her saved money to implement a long term solution to the plight of her community.
Back in March, Sangeetha understood that the lockdown was going to make things very tough for a lot of people. She chipped in with her savings along with funds from the government and some large hearted donors, to help people like her. She understood that with the protocol of social distancing and restrictions on movement, there would be significantly lesser number of people availing of her 6-year old catering service.
Instead of waiting for her savings to run out, she took the bull by the horns and opened a restaurant by the name of Covai Trans Kitchen at RS Puram in the beginning of September. Sangeetha says that because nature is the ultimate winner and humans a distant second, it would be a long time before a cure to COVID-19 appears. Hence the business strategy of her new restaurant was tweaked to adhere to the new situation.
One of the workers at the restaurant is Pappamma who is 36 years old. She reports that this is the first stable job she has ever held in her life, thanking Sangeetha for the opportunity. Earlier she used to work as a helper at weddings and other events and her livelihood was not at all stable. Now, she is gainfully employed as a cook at Covai Trans Kitchen.
Sangeetha is aware of the fact that quality of food at the restaurant has to be above par. To that end, her handpicked staff, even though they had a cumulative experience of 10 years in culinary arts, had to go through a free 20 day cooking course at CSI Bishop Appaswamy College before they joined on at the restaurant. The cooking course made them conversant with new biryani recipes, making of parathas, cooking rice dishes and even new bakery items.
Lakshmi, another transwoman employed at the restaurant, says that the city dwellers of Coimbatore absolutely love the biryani they make. Also, thanks to the cooking course they can also make pastries, cookies, Chinese dishes and North Indian dishes.
Sangeetha says that they also received training on how to run a restaurant properly and also how to apply for a license from the Foods Safety and Standards Authority of India. She was also successful in getting two investors for the restaurant, being helped by the fact that she was a known face and already had a business running.
Last month, Sangeetha also contacted two NGO’s with whom she had worked earlier. Despite being reassured about the quality of cooking, the NGO’s had a few issues with the hygiene. After they were assured about maintenance of hygiene, Swasti and United Way of Chennai joined hands with the restaurant.
Sangeetha has ensured that there are only 32 seats at the restaurant arranged in such a manner that there would only be two people per table. The workers of the restaurant regularly sanitize the premises at set intervals of time. Everybody wears masks, even the cooks and all food items are carefully sanitized before being used for cooking.
At present the restaurant dishes out breakfast, lunch and dinner for the hungry residents of Coimbatore, and with time, based on their popularity, the transgender community is looking to open other outlets in the city. At a time when thousands upon thousands of people have been left with no livelihood, and looking at a future that is bleak, this community in Coimbatore, headed by Sangeetha has truly served up some positive news.
Image Source: Curly Tales