It’s a success story like no other but now we mourn the loss of a family member, a friend, a father, a husband and an upstanding gem of a human being. Siba’s beginnings were humble, and just like his humble nature, they only serve to illustrate his tall successes and the strength of his character and determination.
The third son of impoverished parents, Siba was born on an auspicious Mahashivaratri day of 1971, in the small village of Motabadi.His life was not fated to be easy and the existing problems of his family were compounded by the death of Siba’s father when he was 8. Unable to make ends meet, he left at a young age for Dhanbad where he endured many years of hardship and struggle as a child labourer. After that he moved to Calcutta briefly, working odd jobs and trying to scrape together enough money to survive and feed himself. A few years later, in 1986, he finally managed to catch a break when he arrived inBhubaneswar where his older brother worked for the Bhubaneswar Police Department. He was then brought to the house of a retired government servant and his wife who were on the lookout for a young person to help them around the house, as their children were all living in far off cities. In a classic case of needs matching, Siba found the home he needed, and the couple found the young person they needed.
Once there, with the help of the family he was working for, Siba managed to turn his life around. A tutor was hired for him so he could take his matriculation examinations. In 1991, a close relative of the same family helped Siba secure a job with Orissa Mining Corporation on the Nominal Muster Roll, as an office peon. However, his journey was still not struggle free as it took him a very long time to get absorbed in the regular rolls of the corporation. Siba had a strong ambitious streak which drove him to improve both his finances and his skills. He tried his hand at many different business ventures, among them: selling home made tomato ketchup and chilli sauce (the making of which he learned through a programmeby the Food and Nutrition Department of the Government of India), a food stall near Ram MandirSquare, a distribution of homemade sweet and savoury snacks as supplying atta, maida, sattu etc to small grocery stores and many more. And all this while he continued to live and work in the home of his employer.
Siba was loved by all who met him. There was an innate humility and pleasantness in him, and he was always respectful to everyone. There was an eagerness to learn, a keen interest in cooking and a desire to ‘amount to something’ in his life. In the interim he got married and had a son, Binayak. He always wanted to be able to afford a good life for his littleworld. The deprivations of his childhood and unhappy memories made him more determined to be successful and at the same time they made him extremely kind and able to empathise with every person he met. He was always willing to help others, even if it meant inconveniencing himself.
In 2009 he started his venture, Soupilicious, which went on to become a brand by itself. And the driving force behind the company was Siba and Siba alone. Of course he had help and support, but Siba’s dedication to the business is what made it an outstanding success in Bhubaneswar’s street food scene. Khau Gali or Bhubaneswar’s Eat Street would probably not exist if not for Siba. Soupilicious was entirely owner driven and Siba’s unrelenting and single-minded dedication to his business andhis personal interactions with his clients is what kept bringing people back for more. The Soupilicious menu is as diverse as it is delicious and has continued to maintain the high bar in quality and hygiene that it set as one of Bhubaneswar’s first food trucks.
Soupilicious started out as a little spark set into Siba’s mind by the family he was working for, who noticed how quickly he grasped the new recipes and techniques and how innovative he was. Soon the spark blossomed into a flame as and with the support and blessings of the family he worked for, he opened his first tiny roadside soup stall behind Ram Mandir.
Everyday, after finishing his day job with the OMC and his evening chores around the house he would prepare two handis full of soup to sell. Soon, the flavour and the variety made it wildly popular and soon with the slowly increasing customer base, Soupilicious was able to upgrade to a bain-marie cart and expand the menu. Eventually, he was able to upgrade to a food truck, which afforded him greater flexibility to service customers. With the food truck, Siba was able to introduce more variety and expanded his menu further. The food truck now boasts roughly 50-60 items on its menu. While the Soupilicious food truck can be found at Khau Gali in Bhubaneswar, behind St. Joseph’s High School it is temporarily closed now, owing to Siba’s passing. Siba’s story is not just one of perseverance and strength, it is also about the ability to adapt to change and grab opportunities that come your way. It’s about the ability to always be optimistic and humble in the face of adversity, and come out through the experience without losing touch with your roots. In life, success is not measured solely by the numbers in your account, but also by what kind of a person you are and you evolve into. It’s not about the misfortunes in your life but how you survive them and what you do with the opportunities that present themselves to you. It’s about hard work and perseverance. Above all, Siba was at the end of the day a kind, humble, determined, hard-working family man, who was above all a remarkably considerate human being. He will be sorely missed by all who knew him.