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Daily Inspiration: Meet Hetal Desai

Today we’d like to introduce you to Hetal Desai.

Hetal, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
My name is Hetal, a girl from India. I grew up in a small city in Gujarat called Surat in India. Surat is known for its delicious food! I was not a trouble-making child growing up, never gave my parents hard time. At least I like to think that! I was always very good at academics but there was something inside me that was always attracted to cooking. I grew up watching my mother and both grandmothers cooking regularly. I naturally learned how to cook by just watching them I guess. I never took special training for it.

Though I was unconsciously so much into cooking, I never paid so much attention to it while growing up besides cooking every day due to having working parents. I was always focused on getting a good education and making a great career. I earned a bachelor’s and master’s of Science majoring in Mathematics. I was so close to pursuing my Ph.D., but my parents introduced me to this guy from the USA as my parents were looking for someone to marry me, and on the other side, the guy’s parents were trying the same. I was not interested in leaving India at all but my mom suggested that I at least make an effort to know this guy and if it does not work out then no worries.

Guess what happened?!?! I am happily married to THAT guy. It is crazy how it happened though. He came to India, we met one day, the next day we got engaged and in 10 days we got married! We have been married for over 15 years now! He is my biggest support system. We have two beautiful girls and living happy healthy lives!

Yes, I married my prince and moved across the world. It was all like a fairy tale until I came to the states. Oh boy, was it rough?!?! Whole new country, new language, new family. I left everything behind. 24 years of my life, family, friends, and the list goes on and on. Life is tough, but you know what? We are tougher! I knew I had to start somewhere, do something meaningful with my life and capabilities. So I decided to go for more academics LOL. Yes, I earned another master of science degree majoring in Computer Science and have been working engineering job for over a decade now!

All this time, I was still having fun with my hidden skills in cooking. Back in India, all I knew was how to cook all the delicious Indian Food. Being in the states for over a decade now, I have had the fortune to try so many other types of cuisine and that encouraged me to experiment with different recipes which are outside my comfort zone, especially being a vegetarian I like to reproduce many dishes without any meat! But you know what, I truly enjoy it and I finally decided to document my experience with the world back in 2019! My Vegetarian Roots is an outcome of my love of cooking and engineering skills.

I am here to share my food creations which are a great combination of my Indian roots and the food diversity I experienced in America! I brought this incredible culture from India with me which I want to share with the world! And the best way to share that is through food! I am a proud vegetarian food blogger, spreading Indian culture through food as well well vegetarianism to help us and mother nature, and the environment! I am a proud vegetarian food blogger trying my tiny effort to spread culture and awareness through food!

On My Vegetarian Roots, you’ll find some healthy delicious vegetarian recipes, that I make with the proud Indian roots I inherited from my mom, mom-in-law, and grandmothers with a touch of my creativity! You can also find more than just food on my Instagram, how I juggle everything as a working mother with a full-on career having this side hustle of mine!!

Thank you for being part of my roots, I am so glad to share my story with you all!

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Yes, I married my prince and moved across the world. It might all sound like a fairy tale. But life is not that easy, is it?!?! I had to experience a whole new country, a new language, and a new family. I left everything behind. 24 years of my life, family, friends, and the list goes on and on. I still remember having my husband sit through the whole first summer semester when I started pursuing a computer science degree. The language barrier and whole new technical skills were extremely hard for me to adapt to.

Not only that, but being a wife & a daughter-in-law, I had to fulfill those responsibilities as well. There were days I had thought why did I move, why did I do this to myself? But guess what, quitting is not an option. Life is tough, but you know what? We are tougher! I knew I had to start somewhere, do something meaningful with my life and capabilities. I earned yet another master of science degree majoring in Computer Science and have been working engineering jobs for over a decade now with lots of success and confidence!!

Not only that, today I am a proud vegetarian food blogger, spreading Indian culture through food as well well vegetarianism to help us and mother nature, the environment! I am a proud vegetarian food blogger trying my tiny effort to spread culture and awareness through food! Being a working mother with a full career, having family responsibilities, and having this side hustle of mine while still maintaining to take care of myself!!

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I work for 3M HIS as a Product Owner of a technical team. The same team I was working with as a software engineer for 6ish years before I took on Product Owner responsibilities for the whole team and multiple products to support the firm! I have been working in the IT/engineering field for over a decade now after I finished my Masters of Science majoring in Computer Science.

I also have a Bachelor’s and master of Science majoring in Mathematics from India. Back home, I used to do team Math, now only kids but also high schoolers and university students!

I am a proud vegetarian food blogger trying my tiny effort to spread culture and awareness through food! I created my own website using my technical skills, all the recipes, pictures, videos, and everything you see on my blog, Instagram, Tiktok, Facebook, Pinterest, and Youtube is ALL ME, DONE BY ME!! Yes, I had to emphasize my part, because it is a significant achievement after a lot of learning and time spent on it, and I am so proud of myself for it!!

Being a colored woman in this country is not easy, and also the culture I come from sees women as more of a homemaker vs. having a full-on career (it varies based on many factors). When I came here, I expected to full fill all my daughter-in-law’s responsibilities while I personally felt like I was capable of much more than that. My family has never stopped me from pursuing my dreams but also at the same time expectations are there of being a good mother, good wife, good daughter, and daughter-in-law.

I mean the list can go on and on! I have no complaints about those expectations, because deep down there, I personally want to have it all, family, career, dreams!! The reason I am mentioning all this is leading me to say that I am capable of handling all this which can be taken as my proud achievement!

Some of the skills that set me apart from others are, that I do not give up easily, I fight through and make it work. Balancing my personal life and a demanding career while still being able to work on my passion. Taking time out for myself to focus on my mind, body, and soul!! They say you cannot have it, well I say you absolutely can have it all if you are being smart about and work towards it!!

Can you talk to us a bit about the role of luck?
Well, I think it’s hard work over luck! I have worked very very hard and continue to do so to make my personal life, career, and side hustle work the way I want them to work. Yes, I do have tremendous support and help from my lovely husband and the rest of the family, and I am beyond grateful for it!!

My husband has helped me and supported me from the moment I landed in this country back in 2007, whether it is family-related or career-related. I can proudly say that I would not have made it through if his support and encouragement were not there!!

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