Hero is a very strong word, but it fits 34-year-old Narayanan Krishnan perfectly. During the last 12 years, he has served over 1.5 million meals to India’s homeless, mostly people abandoned by their families, either suffering from mental conditions or too old to care for themselves.
Back in 2002, young Narayanan Krishnan was already an award-winning chef working in a high-class restaurant for the prestigious Taj Hotels, and close to securing a job with another 5-star hotel, in Switzerland. Just before heading off to Europe, he traveled to his home town of Madurai, to visit his parents, where witnessed a scene that changed the course of his life forever. “I saw a very old man eating his own human waste for food,” Krishnan told CNN. “It really hurt me so much. I was literally shocked for a second. After that, I started feeding that man and decided this is what I should do the rest of my lifetime.”
Although he was a Brahmin – an upper class Hindu – destined for a successful career as a chef, Narayanan decided to give it all up and dedicate his life to helping those who couldn’t help themselves. Shaken by the scene he has witnessed in Madurai, he quit his job within a week, convinced his destiny wasn’t to cook elaborate dishes for the rich and famous, but provide sustenance to those who needed it most. “That night I thought, what am I doing? I am selling a plate of fried rice for ten dollars in my hotel where people come and have food for fantasy, fun, joy and recreation. Not for hunger. They eat only half portion of it and leave half of in the plate. It was a spark, a very powerful spark that I had,” the young chef said about the event that made him what he is today.