A Different Route
Life, as we all know can be uncertain. But the unusual twists and turns can certainly make your life worth living. I met Geeta Shridhar just a little over a year ago. She is a prolific award winning blogger, who has made a commendable name in the food blogging space. She pioneers in writing on Indian food. Of-late, she has been creating videos, teaching the young, Tamil speaking audience how to cook.
Everyone fondly knows of her as Geeta Ma, and she has a very different story to tell. “I was born and brought up in Chennai. I moved to Mumbai after I got married. Life has been kind, and I am blessed with two wonderful daughters, and have been living in this bustling city of Mumbai since the last twenty-five years.”, states Geeta.
Geeta Ma devoted the early years of her wedding; caring for her ailing father, who suffered from cancer. “I could literally feel the pain when I was besides him, and the emotions were both physiologically and psychologically overwhelming,” adds Geeta Ma.
But as soon as he passed away, she started viewing life a little differently, and positively worked toward helping those in pain. With her augmented travels, she took it upon herself to help people, and serve them in whatever way she could. Geeta Ma follows a very simple doctrine. She lives by the belief that everyone around us needs help, and it is important that try catering to those needs in whatever way we can. This way, we will be helping ourselves too.
“There is a lot of apathy around us, and a little goodness does no harm,” chides the smiling Geeta. The philanthropist has extended her helping hand at a plethora of institutions, and selflessly pays out of her own pocket to help to a number of street children and the aged too. “Help doesn’t need a category, one can find help in ones own home,” quips Geeta Ma.
Geeta Ma started her philanthropic journey from the Tata Cancer institute. Her passion to cook translates in a way of serving those patients, who were starved after a Chemotherapy session (these patients would take free therapy as they couldn’t afford treatment). She started by serving 30 people, “I created a unique meal plan that benefitted the patients health. Cancer medication is very strong, and taste buds could go for a toss post therapy. Hence I took it upon me to stir up some lip-smacking dishes.” There were lots of things that Geeta Ma realized when she was serving the patients. The apathy around her saddened her, but she found joy in imparting a little happiness to all those who cared.
The press and celebrities have recounted her efforts to serve mankind from time to time. This gave her the impetus to grow not only with her philanthropic work, but also with her cooking skills. She used this opportunity to experiment and create and serve. As fate would have it, she happened to chance upon an opportunity to participate in Masterchef India. She emerged as a successful runner’s up. Her daughters, who have been keenly recording her recipes, urged her to start with her blog, ‘Indian Food Express.’ People started following her at an alarming rate on social media. She was tuned to updating her blogs from time to time. The money she received from blogging was simply directed to the better good of mankind. She never asked for money, nor did she argue about what she received. She quietly took what she earned. This made her even more famous in the blogging circles. Before she knew it, Geeta Ma was invited to review restaurants, food festival promotions, and more. Her passion to write also took her overseas, to countries like Singapore and Malaysia, where she got a chance to review some of the choicest Indian restaurants there.
Some of her philanthropic virtues include the following activities:
- In her spare time, Geeta Ma gladly turns into a writer for the visually impaired students during exam season. She extends her selfless service at the National School of Blind in Mumbai (Worli). She also spends time in the library reading to the students.
- With the support of celebrity actor and model, Milind Soman, Geeta Ma manages to encourage blind marathon runners, securing them with food, shoes, clothing and stay during these marathons. She also manages to organize accompaniment volunteers to run along with the marathoners, enabling them to secure a first place in the race. The participants also graciously respect Geeta Ma. They will only accept their accolades from her hands accompanied with her blessings.
- Since the last two years, Geeta Ma has been organizing a Food Bank (For 30-50 people) where she personally prepares meals with the help of her volunteers, Shivalaxmi Shivaraman and Rakesh Pillai, and serves the same to the genuinely poor people every Sunday. She has done a wonderful job by supporting her volunteers and educating them to conclude their degree in Engineering and MBA respectively.
- Geeta Ma has worked with the Teach India foundation. Since the last 8 years, we find her giving lessons to kids in a plethora of subjects. She conducts these sessions from 7:30 to 8:30 every evening at King Circle (Mumbai).
- Geeta Ma finds joy in teaching students how to cook. She teaches Kids at the Sharaddhananda Ashasram (Matunga). She not only teaches the children how to cook, but encourages them in the way of healthy competition, involving fun and games.
- Geeta Ma teaches cooking to the mentally challenged students of Chembur Slulabha School.
- Geeta Ma’s heart also goes out to all autistic children. She has been volunteering selflessly at the Little Heart School of Autistic Kids.
- In her very own way Geeta Ma, also helps with the last rights of all the senior citizens living at Thiruvarur. During the wake of the hour, she provides them with all that she needs right till these aged beings breathe their last.
I asked her about how she enjoys being a blogger. She states, “I love blogging, but it hurts me to think that the younger bloggers believe that I shouldn’t be around and should take a back seat in my retirement years! It feels like I have robbed them of their chance to grow! But I hadn’t even thought of this when I started writing. I just fueled my passion, and my work got noticed. I have been kind to people and the kindness was simply returned back to me. I have invested in a dint of hard work not to procure any gains, but to help people around me. I must add that when one works selflessly the returns grow leaps and bounds. I will never stop, and will continue to write, as I believe that age is just a number, and only destiny can define the right time for a good start.”
Geeta Ma firmly believes that man is God’s medium of serving all those in need. She never tires of her services, and is present at the drop of a hat when required.
Written by Heer Kothari