Many of us adore Vikas Khanna, a celebrated chef, and Michelin star winner, for putting Indian food on the global map. But there is much more to Vikas Khanna’s inspiring life story than great food.
Vikas Khanna’s inspiring journey from Amritsar to America is not just about his courage and determination, but also about the grit and countless sacrifices of his mother – Bindu Khanna.
How Vikas Khanna’s mother showed undying support for her son at every step in life and powered him to beat hard life battles is a great inspiration for every parent. It tells us why a parent should never give up on their kid.
Born in Amritsar in 1971, Vikas Khanna suffered from a condition, called a club foot at birth. A Club foot refers to a condition in which a foot or feet appear to be rotated internally at the ankle. The foot points down and inwards, and the soles of the feet face each other.
After his birth, when a doctor told Vikas’ mother that he won’t be able to walk like other kids. His courageous mother refused to give up on her son and told the doctor:
“Its your opinion, he is born to fly”.
Khanna, who now works with many organizations related to the Clubfoot, recalled how his mother helped him through his tough childhood in an interview:
“The very first thing the doctor told my mother was that your son has absolutely ulta feet, and my mother refused to believe him. Some 30-40 years ago, nobody would even think about discussing such issues. I’m really happy to know that today it can be easily rectified.”
But his family, particularly his mother, refused to give up on him and took him from Amritsar to Delhi to seek proper treatment. Though Vikas underwent surgery to straighten his legs, he had to wear wooden shoes for a long time to help align them properly. Recalling how these shoes made him look clumsy, Vikas shared:
“They were made in China and I had to wear them all the time. I hated them. They made me look so ugly and everybody laughed at me. They were also very heavy, so it was difficult to walk comfortably, and they felt clumsy.”
To protect himself from all the disturbing voices of young kids calling him ‘Polio Wala Ladka’, Khanna found comfort in the kitchen:
“I started spending time with my beeji (grandmother) in the kitchen. And soon it became my temple. All the disturbing noises around me and jibes of young kids who would call me ‘polio wala ladka’ (the boy with polio) would just die down as I would get mesmerized in the world of food. I would make rotis, peel the vegetables and it all gave me so much strength. I realized that this was my worship, my passion and God willingly life started to change soon.”
At the age of 17, when he began his career as a chef with a catering business, he knew he would leave no stone unturned in making his mother proud. And, why not? Because she was the one who never gave up on him and his dreams.
Through his catering business, he started supplying to kitty parties with chole bhature, cold drinks and ice-cream at Rs. 40 per head. Though it wasn’t much money, it meant so much more to Vikas. Recalling what it meant for him and his mother, he mentioned:
“The first time I earned the money, I ran to my mother and told her that all her efforts had finally borne fruit and both of us wept.”
With his relentless effort and determination and courage, he showed the world that his mother was absolutely right – he was born to fly. Vikas has never left a chance to let the world know that it is his mother’s love, that has always been the wind under his wings.
At I FOR HER, we salute every parent who tries relentlessly to give their kid a better life – a life full of health, happiness, and hope. More power to them!