Meet Aama (“Mother” in native language), who has been sharing her love through her delicious Baaras for the last 49 years and still going strong at 74 years of age!
“Happiness is only for a mere span of time, sadness lasts forever”
This is what we young people in today’s life with busy schedules have felt. In the hustle of life, we often have no time to explore the happiness that lies within the small things floating unknowingly around us. Hidden are the gallis and alleys in the nooks and corners of our beautiful country where the essence of purity and happiness are concealed behind the curtains of a busy lifestyle.
Walking in the narrow gallis of Nyatapola in Bhaktapur, the scent of Baara from the small dingy shop drifts through the noses of each passerby inviting them to savour the taste of the Newari dish. It was a sweet astonishment to find the laughter of a grandmother sitting and creating an art of her own in the big pan in the midst of the narrow lanes. She cooks “Baara”, an authentic Newari dish similar to local pancakes.
Patriarchal society vs Passion
“Love yourself, do what you love and love what you do”
That’s what the enthusiastic grandmother smiled and told. While munching the yummy dish made with love and skills, she shares the hardships she encountered to get the shop working as a bittersweet experience after she got married at the age of 13.
At a youthful age today, the youngsters thrive for opportunities to come and knock at their doorstep but back then it was the quite opposite, recalls Aama. She has been running the shop for the last 49 years and delighting her customers following a strict daily routine of discipline and consistency. She, definitely, is a role model for the new entrepreneurs, who are often impatient and give up too easily. The earlier days were filled with hardships, says Aama and explains passionately how at a young age, she had to sit beside the cooking pan and make baaras all day long. Entangled in the chains of patriarchal society and the constant fear of being judged upon, she had to face all sorts of remarks. She shares as to how people would say that it was not the food but her looks that helped the business customers.
“People have eyes so they will look, it doesn’t mean you necessarily have to follow their look. Just focus on your own work and make people tired of judging you” she quotes.
Despite all the hurdles, she has been able to maintain a fine balance between her passion for the work, her personal integrity and the mutual love and respect for her family. With each baara she passes, she not only transfers the taste but also the euphoria of getting to relish the delicacy, an absolute piece of art that carries a long history of hard work, passion and persistence. She proudly says,
“The delighted eyes of the customers are my rewards of hard work”
She is a living example of the following quote by Mahatma Gandhi:
“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”
She feels she has lived her life to the fullest and has no regrets at all. And her beaming face clearly tells more than what she wants to.
Family as a support system
At the age of 74, she feels she has achieved the best in life and expects the best may be yet to come. She proudly recalls how her husband helped her set up the shop in the earlier days and how he was instrumental in building the business bit by bit. She still counts her family as her support system. She is proud of her decision to continue the business despite the obstacles along the way and how it has rewarded her. The baara shop itself provided a means of livelihood and also helped her in bringing up of her 6 children to their capabilities who now stand able and happy. Though her daughters are married she quotes,
” God sent me a daughter in the form of my youngest daughter-in-law who is my right hand and has been almost like my walking stick, always supporting me.”
Aama on entrepreneurship
She describes herself as a bold passionpreneur who successfully took up her passion for cooking into a successful venture. A venture initiated by her and her husband decades ago as the result of her passion ignited by the mutual love, respect and trust for each other. This is also an important reason why an entrepreneur needs a co-founder to compliment his expertise and how being with a right person can do wonders not only in business but also in your life. She is a living example of a doer who fought for her passion rather than being plagued by excuses and blaming the society and its set up for not being able to do something in life. Despite the hardships that a woman has to face juggling with the manifold roles of a daughter in law, wife and a mother in a strict patriarchal society, she has come a long way. She believes that her passion for cooking and sharing the taste has made her stand out from the vigorous competition and knock offs that have mushroomed in the in the market. It is tough to replicate the years of hard work, passion and persistence.
” You do not need any huge investment or a large team to be an entrepreneur. All you need is the passion to do something. No matter how simple or small it is, just do it rather than waiting for ‘the right day’. Everyday is your day, so seize it and make it worthwhile. Looking back the first day was the most crucial because that’s what has led me here. So make the move and you will achieve everything not just in business but in real life.”
In the older days of her life, her home is the cosy place behind the cooking pan. Cooking baara has become a habit if not an addiction to her. Though her health and body has not been the best, she feels that cooking delicious baara and watching her customers happy with the taste has become a spiritual experience.
We are proud of Aama, Mrs Bikumaya Bajracharya, who has followed her passion against all ups and downs and has redefined ‘Age is just a number’ and still going strong. At a time, when distraction is easy and getting bored easily is a norm, Aama’s story of persistence and creating a successful venture out of a passion towards something should be an eyeopener to not only the restless aspiring entrepreneurs but everyone. Wishing her all the best and thanking her for all her hard work that she puts to cook the baara of happiness. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or feedback.