Bangalore grannies’ yummy pizzas help build old age home

January 3rd, 2009 - 1:18 pm ICT by IANS  

Bangalore, Jan 3 (IANS) Two grand old ladies of Bangalore have come to be known as pizza grannies. They serve yummy pizzas, for a cause - to build a home for the aged and to keep it running.The pizza grannies are Padma Srinivasan, now 73, and her friend and business partner Jayalakshmi Sreenivasan, 75.

In 2003 Padma came up with the idea of building a home for elderly citizens of Bangalore.

“I have always wanted to contribute to society. Elderly people in our society are the most neglected ones. Thus I wanted to contribute to their cause,” Padma told IANS.

She purchased a plot of land in Vijayanagar village, 30 km from Bangalore.

“I spent Rs 10 lakh (Rs.1 million) from my own pocket to purchase the land,” said Padma, who retired as finance manager of an Industrial Training Institute.

“The site measures 22,000 sq ft. But I did not have the money, an estimated Rs.78 lakh (Rs. 7.8 million), to build the old age home. It was during that time my daughter Sarasa Vasudevan and my friend Jayalakshmi Sreenivasan gave me the idea to prepare and sell pizzas to raise the money and our pizzeria took birth,” she recounted.

The pizzeria, christened Pizza Haven, started in the garage of Padma’s daughter.

“Soon our pizzas became popular among young techies of Bangalore as we started selling them at IT companies,” said Jayalakshmi.

The pizzas are mostly served at top MNCs, including HP, IBM, Symphony, Accenture and Sun Microsystems, to name a few.

“The growth and popularity of Pizza Haven surprises us also,” smiled Jayalakshmi.

“We have a van where we carry all the raw materials, including vegetables, cheese and dough to various IT offices and prepare the pizzas in the offices itself. We use electricity, space and other resources of various offices to prepare pizzas. Thus not only do the techies enjoy hot pizzas but also pizzas that are rich and affordable,” Padma said.

On an average 200 pizzas are sold by Pizza Haven every day. The price ranges between Rs.30 and Rs.120.

“We also take orders for parties and festivals,” said Padma.

The pizzas come in 12 mouthwatering varieties. The Pizza Haven serves Mexican Pizza, Hawaiian Pizza, American Pizza and Indian flavours like Chennai Masala Pizza and Mumbai Pizza.

Granny’s pizzas, as the pizzas from Pizza Haven are popularly known, do not use preservatives.

“I am a big time fan of Granny’s pizzas. Often in office I enjoy the delicious and soft pizzas from Pizza Haven,” said Anand Kumar, a city-based software professional.

Ten destitute women have been trained by Padma to prepare the pizzas.

“We serve only vegetarian pizzas. Today’s youngsters prefer pizzas to dosas,” smiled Padma.

“Granny’s pizzas are a hit among the software professionals, not just because they are delicious, but also because they are sold for a cause,” said Padma.

The profit from pizzas and generous donations from some well-wishers have helped in completing the home for the eldely, named Vishranthi (Rest), in June 2008.

“Vishranthi already has 10 inmates. More will soon join. Vishranthi is not just an old age home. It is a multi-speciality home for elderly people. We provide them all facilities, including healthcare and recreational activities. The inmates have to just deposit an amount, depending on their capacity, to be a part of Vishranthi,” said Padma.

According to data with Karnataka’s Department of Welfare of Disabled and Senior Citizens, Bangalore had 565,668 elderly people, in a total population of 5.28 million, in 2007.

India is home to over 76.6 million people over the age of 60. The projected elderly population of India by 2025 will be 160 million.

“Along with age-related health problems, lack of finances is the main issue of concern for around 90 percent of senior citizens in the country and Vishranthi wants to contribute in a small measure to the cause of elderly people,” said Padma.

“In Vishranthi, I am also planning to start an orphanage and vocational training centre for poor rural women. And again our pizzas will come in handy to finance all our projects.”

(Maitreyee Boruah can be contacted at m.boruah@ians.in)

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