A popular quote goes,
“Nothing is quite as beautiful as someone who has survived losing everything and still has a tender heart”.
Our #WonderWomen segment in the #FridayFeature today will talk about the journey of a warm-hearted Doctor cum baker, Dr Sonal Shah, whose every step towards both the professions has been nothing less than a milestone. How did she become a healer and a chef? Let’s find out what she had to say about that.
“It was my father’s dream and desire to see me donning a stethoscope and lab coat. My mother on the contrary, wanted me to choose a lesser hectic and time-consuming profession. I guess I’m a true by-product of their DNAs because I’m fulfilling both their visions for me. The only regret I have is that none of them are by my side to see me do it.
My father was the first to go. I was only 8, not old enough to understand the world, but old enough to understand that my world had changed, forever. My mom became my friend and my strength from then on. We learnt to survive without a man by our side, two strong women standing by each other, and protecting each other, us against the world it was to be, or at least I thought so. But God had different plans.
She was diagnosed with cancer when I was 13. Despite all hopes, prayers and medical treatments, she lost her battle within a year, right before my board exams. Overnight, I was left with an empty house, with nobody to call family. But its not always blood ties that connect you with people. I was lucky to have friends who stood by me then and are with me, even today.
The mysteries of the human body always intrigued me as a child. Losing both my parents to medical illnesses added to my surety about choosing a career that would help people heal and help me get answers about why I lost my parents. Becoming a doctor, was no less than a challenge, especially because I was on my own since my teenage. It is a myth that once you become a doctor you start minting money. The reality is that you study and slog until you are almost 35. Financial (and emotional) constraints were a part of my growing up years. Once I completed my MBBS and got a job, I was determined to go ahead on my own, so I took tuition classes for school kids in order to pave and pay my way ahead for a postgraduation. Struggling, juggling and working for almost 14 hours a day for three years, I aced the entrance and got into a postgraduation course of my choice.
My mother was a single mom raising a child on her own in the 90s. I can only imagine how tough it must have been because she made it appear easy to me. But she was an independent woman; an entrepreneur and an excellent chef. Seeing her running around the kitchen all day didn’t inspire me much back then. In fact, I disliked the very idea of entering the kitchen. Over the years somehow, I guess the baker in my genes kicked in and my mom’s recipes drew me to whip some magic. It was literally out of boredom that the professional baker’s journey for me began. In 2016, a friend randomly asked me to bake a cake and because I had time on my hand, I did it.
After that, I started baking as a hobby, regularly. Slowly, as more and more friends and colleagues started loving and appreciating my bakes, they inspired me to take it up to the next level. Bakers Den By Sona was hence born and the orders have since been pouring in.
My biggest motivation is and always have been my friends and my need to be financially independent. Being a doctor and a baker has been tough, and it does take a lot of time, patience and perseverance. But baking has now become my stress buster after a long day (and even night) at work. I feel immensely humbled when my confectioneries are loved by one and all in a market which is brimming with big bakeries and brands. A sense of being self-sufficient and the belief that we cannot restrict ourselves to just one profession is what keeps me going, both as a doctor and a baker. Also, I now live by the motto of, “Do more of what makes you happy” and would even advice others on doing the same.
Today, I can proudly say that I am living and fulfilling the dream of both my parents, and I’m loving every bit of it. “
You can follow Sonal’s works (as a professional baker) here: