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Community Highlights: Meet Shilpa Tiku

Today we’d like to introduce you to Shilpa Tiku.

Shilpa, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
I was born and raised in Mumbai, India. I have a bachelor’s degree in engineering and an MBA in marketing. I am also a former model and have modeled for over 100 leading brands in India. When I was pursuing my MBA, I realized that modeling has always been one of my passions. While I always knew I was going to find a career path to pursue with my degree, I also knew that if I choose to follow my passion, I can begin to truly enjoy what I do. So even though I continued to focus on my MBA degree and a corporate job after, I pursued modeling as a hobby. Some brands that I have modeled for include Vicks, Akai TV, Clinic Plus Shampoo, Big Bazar, Asian Paints, Citibank, Bournivta, Nescafe, Taj Mahal Tea, Knorr Soups, Unilever, and several others. I continued to model back in India until I moved to the DFW area in 2007. After I moved to Dallas, I worked for a market research and consulting company. However, after a few years, I joined Verify Markets as a consultant and then officially became a partner. Verify Markets works with leading global companies in several verticals, but our primary focus is in the environment, power, and building technologies verticals.

Other than that, I run a food blog with a friend and its called fastcurries.com.

We all face challenges, but looking back, would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Everything in life is uncovered through hard work. I work tirelessly, sometimes for over 18 hours a day. Back in India, I would attend college for 8 hours and go for auditions after. There were times I would shoot all night and go to work in the morning. I distinctly remember one instance when I was shooting all night and had an exam in my MBA program the next morning. I ended up studying during shooting breaks and then went from the shooting location to take my exam after working all night. I truly believe that passion and persistence are what matter. Hard work, passion, and grit take you way up North.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
So I am a Chief Research Officer and Partner at a consulting and market research company, called Verify Markets. We provide growth strategies to companies across geographies.

The story behind the formation of www.fastcurries.com is very close to my heart. In 1990, Kashmiri Pandits witnessed genocide and were asked to flee Kashmir, convert or die. Away from their homes in Kashmir and living in different parts of the world, Kashmiri Hindus are striving to keep their language and culture alive. After migration from Kashmir in India, Kashmiri Pandits lost touch with their roots and got exposed to different cultures. Although I grew up in Mumbai, three months of summer break was always in Kashmir. As children, my brother and I would look forward to going to my grandparents’ home in Srinagar. Unfortunately, my children will never see that home because it was burned down by terrorists.

Most Kashmiri Pandits, who lived in Kashmir for generations, wanted to keep their legacy but had to leave their home with one suitcase to rebuild their lives. If we distance ourselves from our own roots, our culture, our food, we will lose our identity. Unfortunately, migration did just that for Kashmiri Pandits. We have unknowingly distanced ourselves from our roots. My children will never know the culture, will never see our ancestral home. Pandits are a very small population and migration diluted our population even more. After I moved to the U.S, I realized that the fortification of tradition is much more complex than we can imagine. Our lives and our culture were disrupted by ethnic cleansing. That’s when it dawned on me that it is important to preserve Kashmiri culture in the form of food, bypassing our knowledge to our kids and grandkids. It’s important that they start learning very young. Food has always been an important part of one’s identity. The initial idea was to document the recipes so that my children could have them. However, I realized that If I document Kashmiri recipes somewhere, I could save the Kashmiri food culture for generations to come.

Can you talk to us a bit about happiness and what makes you happy?
For me happiness is spending time with my family and close friends. I also love giving back to my community. It truly helps me stay connected with people. I have people from all over the world reach out to me, telling me how they love the recipes on my website and are so thankful that I have documented them. I even had a woman reach out to me saying how my blog helped her daughter in college cook easy and healthy food. So for me, the biggest and sole reward is the realization that I’ve made a change in someone’s life.

Contact Info:


Image Credits

Sejal Patel – Email: snpatel84@gmail.com

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