“It was a question of survival for me. I knew I should either succumb to the burden or fight; I decided to fight my lonely battle.” – Patricia
A few decades ago often children in middle-class houses were told that if they do not study well they will be fit to be in the kitchen doing the cooking. But today being a chef in a star restaurant isn’t a joke. Giving your best at whatever you do will take you long way similarly there are certain flowers that bloom in adversity. This post from Kalam Fan Club introduces readers’ to Patricia Narayan, women who fought the adversity of life with a skill called cooking, interestingly it is the only skill sets she had in her possession as against many folks who have a colorful resume made of degrees, qualifications, and certifications. The story of a mother who got separated from a drug addict husband and brought up her two children singlehandedly without being symbiotic on anyone and in the process got recognized as FICCI women of the year for 2010 is really an inspiring one.
Patricia Thomas was born in an orthodox Christian family of Nagercoil had two siblings. She both parents was Govt. employees and she studied at Queen Mary’s College, Chennai. It was during her stay at Mary’s College she met Naryan a Hindu Boy and their acquaintance turned to love. At an early age, she married Naryan facing the opposition from her parents. Her father disowned her after the marriage.
Misery & Marriage
Patricia’s married life was not happy by any means, along with the responsibility of looking after the family her husband Naryan’s addiction to drugs became a nightmare for this young lady. In this misery, she gave birth to two kids and her husband’s drug addiction became chronic as days passed. Unable to bear the torture posed on by her husband she abandoned him and decided to stay independent. But she had neither the resources nor the qualifications to fetch a job and lead a meaningful life with two children.
She had only two choices either to surrender to death or fight to the best possible level of the adversity imposed on her by fate. She took the second option. Her father who had earlier disowned gave her shelter as it was inevitable. But Patricia was always striving to be independent. By then she had mastered only one skill and that was cooking. With her mother’s support, she started preparing pickles, squash, and jam at home and started selling it to her mother’s colleagues the office as the response was good and the demand for her product grew she gained confidence in this venture. But the inner self always prompted her to be economically independent of her parents. She was looking forward to an opportunity to build a reasonably good food business outlet to support her two children.
Turning Point called Food-Cart
Patricia came to know from sources that Food-carts were provided to people interested to carry out small business by employing handicapped children. She grabbed this opportunity and established a kiosk in Marina Beach of Chennai that was on the wheels on June 21, 1982.
She started selling hot beverages like Coffee, Tea, Snacks like Samosa and Bajjis and Fruit Juices. Her first-day business was dismal which earned her 50 paise. She was disappointed day. Her mother cajoled her to continue the good work and the subsequent days proved to be good ones with her business picking up every day. She proudly recalls that she was able to make 25000 rupees transaction on one day which was record sales in her business stint.
Acquaintance with Chairman of Slum Clearance Board
As Patricia’s kiosk at Marina Beach got a lot of appreciation from the visitors, it also came to the notice of a chairman of slum clearance board. He put forth a business proposal asking her to start a canteen in Slum Clearance board premises. Patricia wholeheartedly accepted the proposal and started running canteen along with the cart-kiosk thus growing her business in multiple places. Though it was a hectic schedule she managed to run the show diligently.
The Canteen Chain Spree Continued…
With the successful execution of canteen at Slum Clearance Board, Patricia started getting offers from various quarters to start a canteen at their premises. She meticulously started operations at for the Bank of Madurai. Meanwhile, she met the administrative officer of National Port Management training school run by the Central government and briefed her expertise in the catering business. Luckily she got an offer serve meals to about 700 students and was given quarters to stay. Her weekly payment reached a figure of Rs 80,000. Her growth spree continued as she entered into a partnership with a leading hotel chain in Chennai city called Nelson Manickam Road Restaurant and assumed the post of director.
Disaster Strikes in Form of an Accident
When Patricia was consolidating her business position, a tragedy happened in her personal life in form of death of her daughter and son-in-law in a road accident at a place called Acharapakkam. Deterred by this incident she handed over hotel business to her son and stayed mute for a small period. Soon she recovered from the shock and took back the reins and this time she started a free ambulance service from the place Acharapakkam to any part of the city in remembrance of her daughter Sandheepa, whose corpse was not accommodated by any ambulance when she had met with the tragedy.
Setting up of First Restaurant in her daughter’s name
The long cherished dream of Patricia and her son Pravin was to start her own restaurant chain and they realized it by starting in Chennai in the name of her deceased daughter Sandheepa. The restaurant has around 200 people working with 14 outlets across the city. To ice the cake Patricia is also the proud winner of the FICCI Woman Entrepreneur Award for the year 2010.
Kalam Fan Club salutes this woman who initiated a business with a sole purpose of fighting the adversity and not because of any passion but nurtured the same with utmost care of an artist who composes music or paints a picture and reached the pinnacle of success.