Javid Parsa | CEO | Parsa Foods & Beverages, Srinagar, Kashmir | Part 2
A drifter who does not miss a chance to click a selfie with people visiting his venture comes from a small village located within the boundaries of Bandipore district in Kashmir. Javid may be taking strides as far as business is concerned, but as an individual, he remains grounded and a Kashmiri.
Excerpts from an interaction with Rajesh Prothi
Q. The business bug, are you the first one in the family to have this, or is there family history, and what was the reaction of your family?
I come from a very humble family in a small village, Papchan in Bandipora district. My father is a government employee. I am the first ‘risk-taker’ in the family.
Initially, there were doubts within my family too about my decision to be back home and start a business. You can well understand how we Kashmiris think. Be happy and satisfied with what you have. But I wanted more; it was hard to convince them, that too at a time when I too was drifting in a pool of doubts. But the fact is that they stood by me and ensured that I always had a helping hand and someone to fall back on in times of need.
Q. What did your parents want you to become when you grew up?
Like every other Kashmiri parent, they wanted me to be an engineer. It was their dream and the rationale behind this was that this profession would ensure a satisfactory life in Kashmir even if it was torn by turmoil. You know how a Kashmiri thought process works, doctors and engineers are always given utmost importance!
And there I was, young and reckless. I took it up as yet another adventure at a point when I had no dreams of my own. I did what I felt was appropriate to fulfill my duties as a son. But soon I realized that it was not my calling and left the course in the fourth semester. It was kind of wasting two precious years of my life. I knew I could not go back in time and rectify my mistakes, so I left to my destiny and opted to chase my dreams. My next calling was to be an interior designer from Lovely Professional University, Punjab (bachelor’s Degree)
While I listened to my inner voice, my brother
But yeah, now my brother fulfilled our parents’ dream. He became one while I listened to my heart.
Q. While away from home, what was that one thing that kept you reminded of Kashmir?
I have been away from home for the most part of my life. It was never too hard for me to carry Kashmir along with me in my heart and in my memories. There were nice people here and good people back home. Every place that I lived in gave me so much love that the distance from home did not seem much.
But yes, many a time it was the food back home that always lingered on my mind. I missed Kashmir the most when we were served rajma chawal (kidney beans & rice)! I mean come on, who can beat our Kashmiris rajma chawal. We have the best rajmas, those small kidney-shaped glistening beans, you simply cannot find them anywhere, anywhere! I remember getting frustrated and sad when I had rajma chawal outside Kashmir, it was never up to the mark!
Other than that, I was happy. People around me were good and loved me so much. Being away from home was not a very big deal. However, my love for Kashmir was so deep that I decided on leaving a luxurious life and come back home.
Q. Do you believe that with time and technology, Kashmir is losing what it always stood for?
The old Kashmir that was there was all about mystic scholars, practices of Sufism, and a serene peaceful scholarly order. But with time Kashmir has certainly lost a part of what it always stood for. This degradation took place partly due to the course of time and partly with ignorance on the part of society.
As the age of technology ushered in, we focused more on the development that happened around us and tended to forget our roots. I think we have been overwhelmed by so many things that were happening around us that we have and each day are easily let go of what our legacy had given us.
But the good news is that many of our generations have realized the importance of what we had and are making serious efforts to retrieve it back.
I certainly believe that technology is great, and it will help us to revive our identity if utilized properly.
Q. What efforts do you make to preserve the culture of Kashmir alive?
I am a true Kashmiri at heart and I love music. So at Kathi Junction, we play Kashmiri music and we speak in the Kashmiri language. We only switch to other languages if there is a need.
To me, Kashmir is about the beauty in its people, its language, its food, its trees, snow-clad mountains, its lakes & rivers!
Unfortunately, off late modernization means speaking in English or in Hindustani (an amalgamation of Hindi and Urdu)! My opinion is that if we Kashmiris stop using our language, it will eventually die!
Thus, this food joint will always welcome you with a hearty Kashmiri greeting and a warm Koshur atmosphere!
Q. What is your vision for the future and your message for the young generation?
I envision a bright future not only for myself but for my society. I want a hundred more outlets all across not just owned by me, but by many women and men entrepreneurs.
It would be great to have more and more women taking up businesses across the valley. I think they have more potential and creative abilities than any of us and must be encouraged to venture into this field.
On a very regular basis, young people come up to me with queries and doubts regarding their start-ups, and I try my best to support and encourage them so that they not only realize their dreams but create employment for others also. This is my way of contributing to the economy of Kashmir.
Q. Kashmir always had composite culture, a mix of Muslims and pundits. What is your take on this?
Kashmir, from the beginning, has been about its Muslims and its pundits, and not to forget the Kashmiri Sikhs! They together make Kashmir truly special. We belong to the same land; share the same culture, just religious differences cannot tear us apart! We are incomplete without each other, and efforts have to be put in to rekindle that harmony once again.
I would love to mention that we celebrated this Diwali at Kathi Junction with much fervor and it was appreciated by many people including Muslim friends from Kashmir!
Life is about loving people and choosing to ignore differences! Walking forward hand in hand, we can build a better world!