Meet the man who, every morning, faces the unwavering determination to provide free meals to nearly 500 elderly and vulnerable people. For a variety of reasons, these elderly people are unable to prepare a healthy meal for themselves, but Uday Modi’s tiffin service makes sure they receive a healthy meal each and every day. It all began when Dr Modi relocated from a small Gujarati village named Amreli to Bhayandar, Mumbai, to practise alternative medicine in the ‘city of dreams’.
His tiffin service, named ‘Sharavan Tiffin Seva’ started small, over a decade ago. He named it after Sharavan Kumar, a figure in Hindu mythology, known for his undying devotion to his parents. Through this service, today he feeds about 500 senior citizens! Initially, his wife Kalpana would prepare the food at home, as it started off with only 11 tiffins, but now, he even caters to diabetics, and ensures their food is cooked in a separate kitchen.
“A patient of mine arrived at my door. He was over 70 years old, living at home with his chronically ill wife. This elderly couple didn’t even have even ten rupees to buy a vada pav. Dr. Modi said, “When he said he needed food, it moved me, and I decided to feed the elderly who are in need without expecting anything in return. The tiffin typically comes with rice, dal, and six chappatis plus a curry. Since Sundays are special, the package also includes farsan, a savoury snack popular in Gujarat, and a homemade dessert. “We assist in moving these tiffins throughout the neighbourhood with the help of two tempo and four dealer vans.
The precarious living conditions of hundreds of elderly people who have been abandoned throughout the length and breadth of Bhayander in Mumbai deeply move Dr Modi.
“There are many cases of malnourished elderly people in my practice who don’t even have a roof over their heads,” states Dr Modi.
The tiffin contains 6 chappatis, curry, dal and rice. On Sundays, they are served with a home-made dessert and farsan, a Gujrati savoury snack.
It’s not easy to feed 500 people, especially with money from your own pocket. Dr Modi has a family of his own, consisting of a son studying computer science, a daughter attending college, and a supportive wife he describes as his courage and inspiration. It costs nearly three lakh rupees a month to keep these elderly people who have been abandoned fed on a regular basis. Dr Modi and his family are steadfast in their commitment to providing unconditional seva to the elderly, despite all the obstacles they face. When my children return and give me little portions of their savings to contribute to the seva, my chest fills with pride. Many come forward to offer their support, so I’m sure it will continue, Dr Modi said.
With one goal in mind, Dr Modi says, “I want to build a Dikra nu ghar for these old people – a home like their own son’s place where everything is taken care of not just food.”
In the future, he hopes to set up a space for the elderly. One that will not just look after their food, but everything else as well — an old age home, where they are genuinely cared for. We constantly blame our busy lives, for our inability to do the same, but Dr. Modi managed to find a way to balance his hectic work schedule, and his tiffin service.
This is a city where people come to realise enormous dreams. There are those who call him Doctor of Hope. For the elderly, Dr Modi is the only hope for survival.