Human Interest
The octogenarian has toiled her way through her tiny, smoky kitchen, grinding batter and chutney on hand-operated stone grinds and steaming idlis on the wood-fired stone hearth.

Kamalathal, the 80-year-old woman from Tamil Nadu’s Coimbatore district who recently gained attention for her one-rupee idlis, and more importantly for her kindness, will now continue to make her fluffy idlis with a little more comfort.

While the octogenarian toiled her way through her tiny, smoky kitchen, grinding batter and chutney on hand-operated stone grinds and steaming idlis on the wood-fired stone hearth, recognition for her hard work is bringing home goodwill gestures from philanthropists.

When industrialist Anand Mahindra, Chairman Mahindra Group, shared the viral video done by The News Minute on September 10, Coimbatore’s idli paati’s fame began growing largely.

Soon, Bharath Gas, Hindustan Petroleum, Thyrocare Technologies and more began lining up outside her house to help her to run her eatery. Kamalathal’s grandson’s wife Aarthi who spends all of her time with paati, helping her run the kitchen, tells TNM that the recent support they’ve been receiving has been overwhelming. “She used to grind the batter by hand since the grinder we have is very old. Now the new appliance will make it easier for us,” says Aarthi.

So far Hindustan Petroleum and Indian Oil have together gifted Kamalathal with a regular stove, a commercial stove (larger than the regular model), three gas cylinders and one grinder. They’ve also offered to give free refills whenever she might need them. Thyrocare Technologies presented her with a larger, commercial wet grinder and Bharat Gas Coimbatore has also given her a stove and gas cylinder. Anand Mahindra too offered to help with her continuing costs.

Aarthi also tells TNM, “One gentleman, an ex-army person, came home to other day to gift us a mixie. We also heard the Coimbatore District Collector is coming to visit us tomorrow or the day after. Roads are being cleaned today."

‘Idli paati’, as she’s dearly referred to by those who frequent her eatery for breakfast, is however busy tending to guests and relatives who are dropping by from afar. “She is quite active for her age. All these equipment are bound to make her work easier,” says Aarthi.

While the grinder might be of much use to her now Kamalathal had remarked in her earlier interviews that she does not know how to cook using a gas stove. “I’m around all the time. I will help her with the gas stove,” Aarthy reassures with a smile in her voice.

Kamalathal who has been making close to 1000 idlies by herself everyday was seen cooking using a wood burning stove in the video reported and shared by TNM earlier this month. Soon after the video went viral, many have been tweeting, lauding her efforts.