Know Gujjuben Urmila Jamnadas Asher and her inspirational story of being a chef with her own Gujarati snack business in her late 70s, reflecting that age is only just a number.
Women, as they enter the more senior age groups, often find that age appears to be a barrier to doing most things including, but not limited to, scoring dreams. For passions that were left unfulfilled in their youth or newer interests that gain shape, older women are made to feel that time has run out for them. But the undying spirit and sheer determination with which some elderly women today are breaking that wall down, shows that it was only just a mirage and age is just a number.
One such woman is Urmila Jamnadas Asher, fondly known simply as Gujjuben Urmila or thepla aunty.
At 77, she is running her own Gujarati snack business ‘Gujjuben Na Nasta’ that serves an entirely handmade – or “mom-made” as she calls it – menu. From healthy cookies to gathiya to dhokla, Gujjuben Urmila is sorting to perfection tea time and snack time for many in Maharashtra.
Foodies on Instagram also enjoy scrolling through Gujjuben’s page for the contemporary aesthetic it exudes. With appealing plating, expansive variety of dishes, and even food memes, the account has a youthful look and feel that netizens flock to. A smiling Gujjuben also makes an appearance on the page occasionally.
Today, she works close to 80 hours a week, beginning at 5 am daily and cooking without break till 9 pm, her family says. Gujjuben Urmila and her family began their pickle and snack delivery business only within the last year, during the pandemic-induced lockdown.
Gujjuben Urmila’s journey, however, has not been without unparalleled measures of loss and tribulations.
How Gujjuben Urmila’s Undying Spirit Is Proof That Age Is Just A Number
The 77-year-old was mother to three children, all of whom tragically lost their lives rather young. Yet, her grandson Harsh who runs ‘Gujjuben Na Nasta’ with her says she is the family’s rock. He doesn’t recall her ever shedding a tear or losing hope, always motivating those around her to move ahead.
“Of course I miss my children. But I feel what about the ones who are still around? Who will look after them?” she says in a video report published by The Quint. “It is my duty to not let my other children fall, to help them. All grandparents want their children to succeed.”
Since childhood, thepla dadi has held a keen interest in cooking, a passion she nurtured through her youth with culinary travels across the world. At 77, the light hasn’t gone out of her dreams as her food is reaching more happy stomachs than ever.
Like Gujjuben Urmila, there are many women defying society’s standards of age propriety and what seems ‘ideal’ for their age. Because when passions come knocking, what choice does one have but to open the door wide? Harbhajan Kaur, for instance, began her entrepreneurial journey in her 90s, with her sweet brand ‘Harbhajan’s – Bachpan yaad aa jaaye’ now famous for their besan barfis.
Athlete Man Kaur, who recently turned 105, is still up and running on her fit feet. She is the winner of several world medals and has earned admiration from prominent sportspersons. Three years ago, Kerala’s Karthyayani Amma kickstarted her education at 96 years old, by clearing a fourth grade exam. Armed with a pen and paper, she is marching along her journey of knowledge even today. Know more such inspirational stories of people breaking the age barrier.