Now wholly and truly Pakistani, Sunita Achrai was born and raised in India and moved to this country after getting married to a Pakistani. With her face lit up by a constant smile, this mother and grandmother is running a business of eateries. “My first restaurant is The Patio where the food is fusion and made with a lot of love. I do it myself and most of the recipes are my own. The second one is a new venture, again fusion, but dhaba style. It’s called KPK which stands for khao, piyo, khisko.” Sunita is shy, but radiant and very devoted to her family.
As life takes it course, one has to go through various ups and downs. Of course, moving from India to Pakistan, leaving her friends and family behind, at the time of her marriage was difficult for her. “I came here when Zia ul Haq was in power. I was a college student when I moved and saw that life for young girls was very different in Pakistan as compared to India. I could not even hold my husband’s hand while walking in a park. “Once I did, and people passed comments,” says Sunita. But her main challenge came when her husband fell ill and she had to take over the reins of the family’s finances. “I had to run the ship and manage the funds. That’s when I decided to start a restaurant. Food has always been my passion and I thought it would also help me with my survival,” says Sunita. Certainly, cooking food for the family in the home kitchen is much different from running a restaurant. “You have to be a people’s person also. I didn’t realize that. I thought I would just be in the kitchen but I had to come out of my comfort zone. What is most difficult is dealing with unhappy customers and doing that was tough. For me to come out in front and talk to people was a big deal. Sitting here today giving this interview is also tough,” explains Sunita.
Sunita started working when she moved to Pakistan and continued to do so even after becoming a mother. It was during the teen years of her children when she felt the need to take a break and concentrate on them and her home. That is when she had to pause and make a choice between motherhood and work. Once they began college, she went back to her career. Life has taught her how to prioritize and juggle various things simultaneously very well. “A woman’s job is to be a juggler I think. It’s not easy but depends on what is needed more at what time, for example, when my husband needed me in the house, I was running the restaurant from the house. Nowadays, with modern technology and cameras, it has become somewhat easier.” She also believes that financial and emotional independence are of paramount importance for any woman to have self-esteem. But while managing to master so many things, a woman must also take out some time just for herself and Sunita has finally come to realize that. “I thought it’s time I took care of myself. I have started yoga and I go for a walk daily. I take out an hour or so just for myself when I play Sudoku or something like that to release the tension and stresses of the day,” proclaims Sunita.
For Sunita Achrai, her Miracle Moment came about when she saw her granddaughter for the first time. “The first cry I heard in the hospital, that was my miracle moment,” she relates. Sunita’s journey has made her realize that to be a better giver, it is important for a woman to take care of herself. Indeed, tomorrow is a better day but it is just as better as you make it. And for tomorrow to be happy, every woman must invest in her physical and mental health today.