A Dabbaful of Samosas and a Million Smiles


White hair, wrinkled skin, simple clothes and a heart of pure gold, that’s how you would describe 75-year-old Shambhu Gupta. Shambhu lives in Nehru Nagar, Mumbai and is usually seen with his cycle and a big dabba of samosas near Mithibai College. Happiness is a feeling from inside, making someone happy, makes your heart smile is what Shambhu strongly believes in.

From sunrise to sunset he tries his best is bringing smiles to people’s faces and distributes samosas from his dabba to the needy. He makes around 600-700 samosas everyday, and come sunset, single-handedly distributes them amongst the underprivileged, slum dwellers and the beggars on the streets.

Starting from Thane he goes all the way to Vile Parle distributing and feeding as many people as he can. “Paisa toh nahi lekin log khush hota hai toh bas hai’, says Shambhu. He began doing this in the year 2014 and will continue to do this till his last breath says Shambhu. His only source of income is the catering orders that he gets and the earnings from the same are used for this noble cause. He recalls being a helpless, ambitious child with no food or money. Hopes and dreams helped him tide through the trying circumstances of his impoverished childhood. He started with working as a cook at a small dhaaba in Navi Mumbai.

From a regular boy who washed the dishes to the best samosawala in town, he has earned a lot with his samosa making business and later moved ahead and started taking orders for parties and pujas. At the age of 75, Shambhu is still unmarried and says that he has the privilege to meet new people every day and they are more of a family to him.

Having faced miserable conditions, Shambhu is aware of the plight of the poor and this is the major reason for supplying food to them. He refuses to give interviews and believes in simplicity. ‘Hum sabke ke andar ek hero hai ek bhagwaan ki chhavi hai’, said Shambhu while he was packing a few samosas and chutney for me. His aloo samosas are something to look out for. Shambhu wishes to eradicate poverty from India. He advises the youth not to waste food and is also a part of a community which serves leftover food to the poor.

This community consists of the dabbawallas who deliver food to countless homes in Mumbai. They came up with the idea that the leftover and unconsumed food could be distributed to the needy instead of being thrown away. When Shambhu heard about this from a friend he asked those dabbawallas if he could be of any help. After he distributes all the samosas and is on his way back home, he gives away the leftover meals as he is well versed with the areas where people need food the most.

Shambhu could easily run his own business and earn a good amount of money but instead he chose to forgo success and deliver smiles instead. People like Shambhu show us that heroes can be found in the unlikeliest of places.