Food for Thought by Meeta Chaitanya: Kushal’s Story
For the love of IPS… and Pongal – Kushal’s story
Kushal Anjan loves Wednesdays. Because of school.
Yes! Kushal, a Grade VIII student at Government High School, Saheguruhalli, Bangalore loves going to school on Wednesdays because of the sumptuous meal of Vegetable Pulao – a popular rice pilaf dish- and Sweet Pongal – a sweet delicacy - that he is served for lunch. These are for him and many of his friends at school two all-time favorite dishes. The spunky 13-year-old is quick to add that the other days at school are equally replenishing and that he loves the vast variety of vegetables - carrots, potatoes, beans, green peas and beetroot – albeit the savory motivation of Pongal adds a dash of valor and candied magic to his dreams for the future!
Kushal aspires to become a police officer when he grows up. Like most of us, he is acutely aware of the abject corruption that feeds its own calamitous ecosystem – one that most of the children at the school have faced in some shape or form already. Unlike most of us, he is getting ready to do something about it!
“Each day I feel I am closer to realizing my dream of joining the Indian Police Services because of the healthy nutritious meal you give me. And as a sign of gratitude to you, I promise that one day I will help in eliminating the corruption from this country and remove as many people as I can from the rundown of poverty.”He means business. Already his grades, like his love for Pongal, are galloping by dollops.
He goes on to add, “Because these meals are packed with proteins and carbohydrates, I was able to secure 87% in my 8th grade exams and I assure you that I will continue to score high. I love Wednesdays because they give us Vegetable Pulao and Sweet Pongal. And even if sometimes I am late in eating the meals they still remain hot because Akshaya Patra steam-bakes them.”
Clearly, a day off at the Akshaya Patra mid-day meal schools wouldn’t have many takers – but any given Wednesday does the trick – uniform-ly!