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Finance manager from Gurugram whose mission is to feed the poor

Manuj Gupta, an executive finance manager in a multinational company in Cybercity, organises community feasts for the poor.

gurgaon Updated: Jun 07, 2018 09:00 IST
Rashpal Singh
Rashpal Singh
Hindustan Times, Gurugram
Gurugram,Community feast,Manuj Gupta
Manuj Gupta organises community feasts for the poor. He has launched a website and a Facebook page so that more could join in.(Sanjeev Verma/HT Photo)

On a cold January morning, some residents of Total Blossom 2 condominium in Sector 51 had gathered at the society temple to discuss ways to serve the society. What got them talking was a feast organised by their neighbour, 37-year-old Manuj Gupta, in a small park in the area on a Sunday afternoon. The residents wanted to contribute but were not sure if they could manage the resources that were required to sustain such an initiative.

Moved by the plight of the people struggling to make both ends meet, Gupta, an executive finance manager in a multinational company in Cybercity, first held a feast for 100 people on January 21. Gupta had arranged a cook to feed the people.

That was the start. Soon, the idea picked up and other society residents approached Gupta, seeking the details of his initiative and how they could help.

During the discussion at the society temple, the idea evolved and the residents decided to buy utensils, a rickshaw and hire a cook to organise the feast every weekend. The idea also got a fillip as the organisers went online with a website and a Facebook page. The idea to make a website was Manuj’s that he discussed with a friend who helped in developing the website.

Manuj said the website helped since all activities of the group were put online and shared so that more could join in. With the initiative going online, people from anywhere could book a feast and pay online.

“The cook I had initially hired lived at some distance from the society and we had to carry the cooked food back to the society. I hired another cook who comes to society temple, where all the cooking takes place. We bought our own utensils and a cart for Rs 5,000 to carry the cooked food,” said Gupta.

His wife and mother often helps him in distributing food.

Initially, the feasts were held on Sundays, but as more residents wanted to contribute, the frequency was increased and Saturdays were also considered from March onwards.

“We wanted to preserve the good work by residents and share among others so a website — weeklybhandara.com — was made in March. We put pictures of the feasts on the website and will soon include the option of contributing and booking the feast dates online,” said Gupta.

Gupta clarified his was a social cause and there was nothing religious about it, barring the fact that the food is cooked at a temple premises.

Gupta said he manages to arrange the material such as groceries for the feasts with his long working hours, which stretch from 1 pm to 10 pm.

The residents usually book a whole feast (that is they pay cumulatively for food, cooking, cutlery etc), which costs around Rs 3,500 for 200 people. “The sponsors usually serve the food. But if they are busy, we take care of everything. Thirty-six weeks have been covered and all is going well. Sometimes even society residents enjoy the food,” said Gupta, who came to Gurugram from Noida in February 2014.

“I come here every Saturday and Sunday for tasty food. It is unlike other places where food is cooked in a haste and is sometimes stale,” said a domestic help, Manti Devi, relishing a plate of kadi chawal (yoghurt curry with rice). The menu is changed every week.

When a group of activists objected to the use of plastic plates, spoons, and water glasses, we tried using steel plates but washing them became a big issue. We are exploring a better and eco-friendly option, said Gupta.

His neighbours described Gupta as a helpful man who would go great lengths to make life easy for others.

“Manuj helps people as soon as somebody asks and is always supportive. Through his feast initiative, he has involved so many people of the society in the good work. Once my mother slipped and he was the first one to reach and take her to hospital. Elderly in the society can depend on him for any help,” said Vivek Ojha, an IT company employee, who lives in Total Blossom 2 and knows Gupta since 2015.

“I know Manuj for the last three years and he had discussed the feast idea with me. It is a wonderful activity and he has been contributing for many social causes. I will also replicate the feast initiative at sector 110 and Palam Vihar,” said a friend of Gupta, Navdeep Singh, an MNC employee, who is a resident of Mahindra Aura in Sector 110.

Gupta said that finding time for helping others was never a problem. “If I can spare some time for a cause, others can too,” said Gupta.

First Published: Jun 07, 2018 09:00 IST