Birthed at Burning Man, Shyam Vasant Yadav started French Toast and Hugs (FTX) back in 2000. I had the pleasure of meeting Shyam at Burning Man 2009 as part of his very fun, welcoming camp and just being around this positive guy gave me a refreshing look at life. His happy perspective is infectious: from simple stories about his favorite slice of pizza to introducing me to the relaxing music of Hammock.
What a perfect person to start a project that hands out hugs and french toast at no cost, for the simple pleasure of making people happy. Together with his FTX gang (you get a numbered jersey for lending a hand or spatula), he has fed an estimated 5,000 to 6,000 people around the world: cities like Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Auckland, Santa Monica, New York, Melbourne and Jodphur.
“It’s the only time that I feel like I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing. When I do my job, I’m good at my job, but it doesn’t give me a whole lot of joy. When I do this, it’s like this is exactly what I’m supposed to do. People wait in line, the music is playing, they are talking and laughing. People feel good. I don’t have a plan with this thing. But I do know that the more I do it, the better I feel.”
Shyam’s last stop was Washington St and Battery Place in New York for the 10th anniversary of 9/11. He was a little nervous about doing FTX because of the high security, but the event went off without a hitch! For a more in-depth interview with Shyam, go to storyofmylife.com