Follow Every Rainbow
Prashant Paranjape is software professional. His interests include various technologies, programming, s and on lighter side – humor and inspirational biographies.
The Book “Follow Every Rainbow:” tells the inspiring stories of 25 women entrepreneurs from various backgrounds. Written by Rashmi Bansal, the book is divided into three sections –
- Lakshmi (covers women who became entrepreneurs with the support of their families, achieved success and also made it a point to not compromise family over work),
- Saraswati (stories of educated women entrepreneurs)
- Durga (women, who had to fight all hindrances that came in their way and had to battle for their dreams).
I read this book somewhat accidentally while researching information on “Patricia Narayan” who had an extraordinary struggle to survive using just one skill – cooking. Let’s discuss Patricia Narayan’s story as that’s what made me read this book.
Patricia – a 18-year-old girl with no real ambitions or goals in her life except a keen interest in cooking. She fell in love and married Narayan without completing her degree – a decision she would soon discover would be a grave mistake. Her husband turned out to be an abusive alcoholic, drug addict and taunted her everyday by calling her “good for nothing wife”. The marriage took a turn for the worse in a few years and she was forced to seek shelter on the streets of Marina beach (Chennai) with no degree, no money, no home, and 2 kids. To make matters worse, many relatives from both sides severed relations with her.
On the crossroads of life, pondering whether to die or to live; she chose to live. She secretly borrowed some money from her mother to start making and selling pickles, squashes and jams. On June 21, 1982, she decided to open a tea stall on marina beach and actually her whole day profit was 50 paisa! Completely disheartened, she and her kids slept on Marina beach bench that whole night. She continued her business from 1982 to 2003 – daily 5 AM to 11 PM – running a mobile food cart on marina beach selling teas, idlis, dosas and chats. She slowly expanded into catering and then started to run canteens. Over these 21 years, she learnt exactly how to manage things, scale them, and smoothly delegate & execute effectively.
Just when the going was getting good, tragedy struck again. Patricia lost her newly-wed daughter Pratibha and son-in-law in a road accident in 2004. Later In 2005, she started a free ambulance service in Chennai to help accident patients, something that her daughter couldn’t receive in time and lost life.
With her son taking charge, she started her first Restaurant “Sandheepha” in 2006 in memory of her late daughter. Since then, she has successfully built a chain of 14 restaurants in Chennai and abroad and employs over 200 people directly. Her profits are about 2-Lakhs/day which is approximately 7 crore net-profit annually). She also sits on the board of directors of Sangeetha Restaurants.
She has won –
- Prestigious FICCI Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2010
- Indian Express Devi Awards in 2016
“There was a fire in me that made me believe that I could be successful without anyone’s help. I did not want to be a failure. If you have that fire, nothing in the world can stop you from succeeding.”- Patricia’s on receiving FICCI award.
Over her life’s 4 decade’s journey that started in 1978, she faced and overcame numerous personal losses, – a drug addict husband, failed marriage, having to live on the street with her two children, not knowing where her next meal will come from, being empty handed, being forsaken by her relatives, loss of her newly-wed daughter and son-in-law within a month of their marriage and so on. Just one such incident is enough to destroy someone completely. But with no formal education, experience, or capital, Marina Beach became her experimental education ground for her life. Her only skill – cooking combined with a never-say-die attitude, genuine motivation, hard-work, and determination made her an exceptionally accomplished women today. The sheer force of adversity made her an entrepreneur, and the spirit to fight all odds made her successful.
Patricia Narayan’s rags to riches story inspires millions of women to break free of abusive relationships and take the first step towards turning their lives in a positive direction.
These lines truly sums up Patricia’s extraordinary struggle and at the same time her belief in God.
“Believe in GOD but never depend on Him to ACT when YOU are in difficult times. Who knows He may be depending on YOU to ACT”.