Heer Kothari in conversation with the founding member of ‘Bombay Haveli’ restaurant, Marzy Parakh.
There are so many of us who ‘plan’ on giving back to society, but how many of us actually do? Once the pay-cheque arrives we get so involved in spending all that we earn on frivolous means. “In whatever way possible, but I have simply grown up believing that it is essential to give back to society. It maintains a balance and also adds to your ‘Karmic points’.”, adds Marzy Parakh, owner of famed restaurant, ‘Bombay Haveli’. The set up is simple. The food served is delicious. But the most outstanding aspect of this restaurant entails Marzy employing the physically challenged to run the show! This isn’t it! But there is training imparted to make them successful entrepreneurs.
Purposeful means and ends
Housed the in busy vicinity of Mumbai’s Opera House, Marzy employs productivity purposefully, encouraging everyone to work and make them feel like equals. His long-term goals involve helping everyone by and large. “My contribution to social life started during my early teens. There was apathy teeming around me, and I wanted to do everything in my power to help better the quality of life of those who are under-privileged.” Marzy was an investment banker by profession and gradually entered the corporate catering business. “Business was booming, but three years ago, I decided on going vegan. Then I thought to myself that why serve non-vegetarian food in the first place? Much to the dismay of my loved ones, I made new rules overnight! The day I made up my mind; three prosperously running joints namely ‘Pala Fala’, ‘Volare’, and ‘Gourmet 64’ turned vegetarian. This cut the business sizeably, “Which is precisely why I took to venturing in the restaurant business.”
Running vegetarian restaurants has its on fare share of issues. Usually, there are investors who have partnered with Marzy to run the show, but not all investors understand the sentiment behind employing the physically challenged. “Many of them have a fare share of questions while employing the physically disabled. For instance, how is it possible for one to actually have someone aboard who is unable to explain something? Or ‘How will we have someone who is unable to serve correctly, or is unable to take the orders? But the fact is we still provide training for of this. Yet, there are many people who resist this service.” In Marzy’s view, one physically challenged individual equals two normal people. They are more inclined to give their best! They don’t waste time on phones. They have a fear of losing the chance to be respectably employed by another.
Marzy has also set up a chocolate making class for the visually impaired. “This does not prove to be commercially viable. Typically because they will look out for options that would probably help them earn more money, and market the product. There are times I have had to discontinue the class.” Recently, Marzy has restarted the class giving in the hope of giving impetus to the model, and making the venture commercially more viable.
Apart from catering to his restaurant business Marzy Parakh interestingly tries to help the people of his community by using technology more responsibly. “Every morning we wake up to a forward that could probably want to make you squirm. Technology is harnessed correctly can prove to benefit society in more than ways. So I genuinely urge my friends to refrain from keying in that forward and send a meaningful message out instead that could help another.” Marzy has initiated a WhatsApp group called ‘LIVE TO GIVE’. This encourages users on the group to participate and donate to the source directly and the one that is genuine. 1) No one is allowed to introduce one another. 2) No greeting are to be exchanged on the group. 3) If there is a case put up on the group, it has to be supported by an image of the suffering person, and a report. Bank transfer details should be provided herein, making it easier for the doner to make the donation.
On inquiring with Marzy, what is the purpose of this? He immediately added, “Well, here we haven’t only used technology responsibly but have also provided a means to an end. There is no paper work involved as the charity happens directly without the involvement of an NGO or other CSR body. But what is most interesting is the kind of energy that exists in the group. Sometimes financial requirement to a certain serious ailment is fulfilled in minutes!”, he smiles.
People like Marzy are always looking out for genuine helpers and genuine people who NEED the help. “Yes work and finance is everything, but yet if we are unable to impart the help to the people who really need it, then our mere existence should go in vain”, adds Marzy as we call it a wrap.