After Both Parents Passed Away, 22-YO Turns Mom’s Lessons into Successful Vada Pav Stall

Mumbai BEst Vada Pav Mom Recipe

Omkar Dayanand Godbole has lived through several adversities. He has experienced hunger and knows what it feels like to skip multiple meals on some days. He has also on several occasions held back on visiting a doctor to get treated only because he did not have the money. “I have experienced that pain and I would never wish it upon anyone else,” says 22-year-old Omkar to The Better India.

In May 2020, two months after the lockdown was announced due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Omkar turned to food to find solace and earn money. “The skill my mother, Rajshree Dayanand Godble, had taught me was cooking. I was confident of putting that to use and earning a living,” says the owner of Bindhasta Vadapav in Dombivli, near Mumbai.

For two months after the lockdown was imposed, Omkar lived on the savings he had from his previous job. Just as the money was running out he knew he had to find another way of staying afloat.

While all through his life there have been tough instances that Omkar has had to face, 2018 was the worst year of his life when within a span of a few months, he lost both his parents. “Life has been extremely tough for us. There have been days when we had to sell off jewellery and even the idols of gods and goddesses we worshipped at home to make ends meet,” he shares. Through it all Omkar somehow managed to be an optimist, hoping for things to turn around.

However, losing his parents was akin to losing his limbs, he says. “Just their presence gave me a sense of support and security. Losing them was a shock that I still feel bad about. My mother passed away in August 2018 and within a few months I lost my father as well. I also had to perform all the rituals for both of them and that never gave me the time or energy to cry and mourn their loss. It just became a part of my life,” he adds.

‘I know what hunger feels like.’

Looking back at his life so far, Omkar says, “My father, Dayanand Godbole, contracted polio when he was just six months old. His life was spent in pain and the disability and while he tried to provide for my sister and me, it was difficult. He lost his job as a bank clerk and that was when the financial troubles started mounting.” The school fee of Rs 1,000 was also difficult for them to pay and it was the school principal who provided financial support and got Omkar to complete his education.

Just after Omkar completed his Class 12 his mother was bed-ridden, and since his father was already suffering from Polio he was forced to stay home and care for his parents. “This was one of the reasons I never stepped into a college – my responsibilities lay elsewhere and I could not think of continuing my education,” he shares and adds, “Also, when there was no food at home for us to eat, what good would it do to spend money on education?”

With a meagre amount of Rs 300 Omkar decided to take the plunge in the middle of the lockdown and start Bindhasta Vadapav.

‘Being My Own Boss’

Before May 2020, Omkar had taken up various odd jobs to make money but he says that he always wanted to do something on his own. “I never felt satisfied working for others. I was constantly thinking of what I could do. Being my own boss and responsible for what I earn has made life so much better,” he says.

He sets up his stall in Dombivli every evening from 4.30 pm onwards and says that on an average on weekdays he sells 100 vada pavs and on weekends more than 150 vada pavs.

What’s even more unique about his vada pavs is his marketing strategy of reaching out via memes. From the most trending memes on social media to making his own content to selling vada pavs — Omkar does it all.


On an average Omkar uses close to 7 to 8 kg of potato each day and says that there are days when it goes up to 10 kg. “Weekends are good and weekdays are usually a ‘lukewarm’ response,” he says. Every evening, after the sales of the day are completed, Omkar ensures that he distributes the remaining vada pavs amongst the street vendors in the area. “There are many balloon sellers and others who benefit from the food I give them. These are vendors who usually sleep on the street side. This is my small way of helping them get something to eat,” he says.

Omkar has been working by himself and says that he has friends who often offer their help and support. “I do not have a fridge in my house and the chutney I make needs to be refrigerated so I would use a friend’s house to make and store the chutneys. He would also help in deliveries since he had a bike and I don’t,” he says.

In a very philosophical manner he says, “Paisa ka kya hai? Kal nahi tha, aaj hai (What is money – it wasn’t there yesterday, it’s there today.) I have seen a stage in life when my mother was dead in the hospital and I did not even have Rs 300 to pay for her ECG. I started from zero so where I am today is amazing. I only feel gratitude.”

“If I were stuck on gender-defined roles and had not learnt cooking from my mother, I would not have been able to survive today. I wish these norms would change and people would stop looking at jobs through a gendered lens. I cook not just with ingredients but with all my heart,” he concludes.

If you are in Mumbai and are craving different kinds of vada pavs, you can reach out to Omkar via his Instagram page – Bindhasta_Vadapav.

(Edited by Yoshita Rao)

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