Krishnan: Feeding Madurai’s Least Fortunate

Krishnan's Clientelle

Many of you will already have read the profile of Krishnan and his marvelous program which brings three nutritious meals to 100-or-so of Madurai’s most desperate pavement dwellers each day. It was written by our friend Pavi for The Hindu, and was featured in Quote-a-Day and Signs of Light

This afternoon, we had an opportunity to meet Krishnan and ride along as made his lunch rounds – a 40 km journey from start to finish. I will not repeat what Pavi has already written about this amazing you man; you should read it if you have not already. I’ll simply comment on a more personal level.

On of the first things you notice about Krishnan is a kind of manic joy. He can’t seem to sit still, nor does his beatific smile ever stop glowing. As our friend Cindy Harrison put it, “He is lit from within.” He has a true passion for what he is doing, and it shows every moment.

When you meet Krishnan’s parents, you understand immediately where he gets his energy and his love of feeding people. These are the most “Jewish” Hindus, the most “Bengali” Tamalians, I’ve ever met. Both parents have an infectious, quick wit and gigglely familiarity which instantly turns their home into a welcoming place for anyone who does not take themselves too seriously. And they simply can’t stop themselves from stuffing you with homemade food.

Being force-fed at the Krishnan house is an altogether excellent experience. The vadais we had were absolutely delicious. They were not only lighter than any we’ve had, they were also more intricately composed. One is not permitted to leave the premises without testifying that the coffee they serve is the finest in South India. This is approximately the equivalent of someone demanding an oath that theirs is the finest wine in France; but somehow both the judgment and the act of swearing it seem oddly appropriate.

Once in Krishnan’s delivery van, he becomes reflective about the nature of his calling and the people he serves. He speaks of giving up his position at a chef at the Taj hotel in Bangalore because he could not stand the thought of people going hungry in his own city.

Krishnan

Krishnan and his assistant Mani know the names and stories of most of those to whom they deliver. None of them are happy stories. If there is one common element, it is that these people have been abandoned by their families, often from places so distant that even those with their wits about them have no way of getting by since they cannot speak Tamil. These are the mentally ill, the physically handicapped, and the elderly who have been left to make their way – or to die – on the streets of Madurai. In fact, Krishnan refuses to feed the able-bodied beggars who work the streets.

If there is another common theme to the afternoon, it is the joy that each meal and each bottle of water brings to the recipients. Some express gratitude, others are too bound-up in their own insanity or desperate circumstances to communicate much. But the pure happiness that overtakes them when they sit to eat is unmistakable.

Do they even know that Krishnan uses only the purest ingredients, the best quality ghees and oils, and the finest spices in his preparations? Do they appreciate how the menu changes for each meal, and each day of the week? Do they understand that, in each bite, they are tasting years of culinary experience from this award-winning chef? Probably not. But there is no way Krishnan would serve these people – the poorest of the poor – anything he would not be proud to serve dinner guests in his home. For Krishnan, eating well is a matter of human dignity.

It costs Krishnan approximately 2,000 rupees a day to deliver 110 nutritious meals, three times each day – that’s about $45. He is sustained by contributions of individual donors, often people who chose to celebrate their birthdays, anniversaries, or other auspicious days by contributing a day’s expenses. On our visit, we brought a $200 contribution from one of our friends in the Bay Area. If others from overseas wish to contribute, at present there is no easy way to do it in a direct, tax-deductible way. Krishnan’s charitable trust will not be authorized to accept foreign contributions for a couple more years. But if you care more about supporting this astonishing young man’s program than the tax deduction, Varalaxmi Krishnan (Pavi’s mom, no relation to the chef), has agreed to funnel PayPal contributions to the program. Check back here in the next day or two to find out exactly how this will work.

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9 Responses to “Krishnan: Feeding Madurai’s Least Fortunate”


  1. 1 K. E. MATHEW 29 March 2008 at 6:06 am

    INCREDABLE KRISHAN

    WOW, What a loving human heart can one posses more than this. Working for a human cause, caring, upliftment, and providing care before erasing the hunger itself.

    A BIG SALUTE TO THIS GENTLEMAN.

    MATHEW
    PUNE

  2. 2 babu john 13 March 2009 at 6:01 am

    LORD THE SUPREME GOD IS ONE. AND HE REFLECTS HIS SPIRIT THROUGH PEOPLE LIKE KRISHNAN OF MADURAI. EVERY ONE LEARNS A LESSON IN LIFE THROUGH DAILY WONDERS BUT NEVER RETURNS TO HUMANITY FOR LACK OF COMMITMENT TO THE SAME. I PRAY DAILY FOR KRISHNAN’S PERFECT HEALTH AND HIS TEAM’S HEALTH. HIS HUMANITY IS TRUE DEMOCRACY, IT IS PEACE, IT IS PURE LOVE. MAHATMA GANDHIJI, MOTHER TERESSA, BABA AMTE, MEDHA PATKAR, AND MANY MORE ARE GOING TO RULE HUMANITY AND I AM SURE KRISHNAN WILL BE C E O OF THE COMING INDUSTRY CALLED LOVE.

    WITH LOVE BABU JOHN

  3. 3 Murugan v 13 February 2010 at 4:06 am

    I want the contact details of Mr Krishnan

  4. 4 mbjesq 13 February 2010 at 7:47 pm

    Krishnan has a registered trust, which can accept contributions from within India as well as from abroad:

    Akshaya’s Helping in H.E.L.P. Trust
    9, West 1st Main Street, Doak Nagar Extension
    Madurai – 625 010. India

    Ph: +91(0)452 4353439/2587104
    Cell:+91 98433 19933

    E mail : ramdost@sancharnet.in

    You can find out more about what Krishnan is up-to these days at http://www.akshayatrust.org.

  5. 5 Ashsh Nair 21 October 2010 at 1:38 am

    Krishnan is the real Hero.

  6. 6 herowatch 23 October 2010 at 4:57 pm

    Krishnan has been nominated for for CNN’s Hero of the Year.

    You can vote for him here.

  7. 7 shankar 4 May 2011 at 1:17 pm

    i also want to become like u sir

  8. 8 Aleisha 30 May 2014 at 9:03 pm

    I hardly drop responses, but i did a few searching and wound
    up here Krishnan: Feeding Madurais Least Fortunate | memestream.
    And I do have 2 questions for you if it’s allright. Could it be only me or
    does it look like a few of the comments come across like left by brain dead
    people? :-P And, if you are posting on additional online
    social sites, I would like to follow everything fresh you have
    to post. Would you make a list of all of all your social pages like your twitter feed, Facebook page or linkedin profile?

  9. 9 congtrithuc.com 16 February 2015 at 1:16 am

    I’m amazed, I have to admit. Seldom do I encounter a blog that’s equally
    educative and engaging, and without a doubt, you
    have hit the nail on the head. The problem is something that
    too few folks are speaking intelligently about. Now i’m very happy that I
    stumbled across this during my search for something concerning this.


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