Breaking taboos: Nasreena, Baramulla’s first woman restaurateur

Now she runs Al Kareem with the help of six employees and besides traditional wazwan serves different varieties in Chinese as well as continental cuisines as per demand of the customers.

MALIK NISAR
Srinagar, Publish Date: Feb 13 2018 12:08AM | Updated Date: Feb 13 2018 12:08AM
Breaking taboos: Nasreena, Baramulla’s first woman restaurateurGK Photo

Breaking the tradition, 35-year-old Nasreena Firdous of Sopore has become the first woman in the Baramulla district to open a restaurant.

A woman managing a restaurant is not a usual thing to do in Kashmir. Except for a café in Srinagar city, no other example of a woman running a food business could be seen in entire Kashmir. And for a woman like Nasreena, who comes from a humble background in a small town, it becomes a more challenging job to tread into a path, which does not have a social sanction.

Taking all the challenges head on, Nasreena opened Al Kareem Restaurant, a month ago at Sangrama Chowk, a centre point between Sopore and Baramulla towns.

Nasreen has a master’s degree in Englsih with B.Ed and M.Ed, that was an ‘obvious’ reason for her parents that she will choose teaching as her profession. “But, I was not interested in teaching and always wanted to do something different,” says Nasreena.   

“I had never thought that one day I would become a businesswoman and run my own restaurant. The attitude changed when my husband suddenly fell ill. I had to manage all the affairs of the school he was running,” she adds.  

The journey so far has not been easy for Nasreena because of her husband’s long illness, who remained bed-ridden for almost two years due to an attack of paralysis. She had to take care of all family as well as school matters, which was a daunting task but she not only managed it well and learned lot of things, which prepared her mentally and armed her with skills for opening her own restaurant.  

“It has been an uphill road for me. Nobody accepts you as a businesswoman. When I decided to start Al Kareem, back in mind was the fear of people’s taunts and wanted to give in to this social stigma,” says Nasreen.

However, she says, it was her husband, who backed her decision and stood behind during the thick and thin.    

“Without his support, I don’t think, I would have been here, talking to you about my work. He provided me full support for opening the restaurant,” she says.

“When I was growing up, women were considered a liability. I never liked that and want to change it,” said Nasreena, sitting in her newly opened restaurant, greeting customers with warm wishes.

To open the restaurant, Nasreena had applied for a loan at Khadi and Village Industries Board (KVIB), but that was never sanctioned. She had personal savings of Rs 2 lakh and her husband also provided her some capital to start the venture.

Now she runs Al Kareem with the help of six employees and besides traditional wazwan serves different varieties in Chinese as well as continental cuisines as per demand of the customers.

The best part about Al Kareem is that it offers authentic Kashmiri food in a traditional way.

Despite being busy with the business, her family is still here first priority. Besides taking care of her three children, two daughters and a son, she likes to read and write, when she has some spare time. She has written many articles.

She signs off saying that a woman has to create her own identity by dedication and hard work only, otherwise there is no scope for a businesswomen in our society.  

Box: To open the restaurant, Nasreena had applied for a loan at Khadi and Village Industries Board (KVIB), but that was never sanctioned. She had personal savings of Rs 2 lakh and her husband also provided her some capital to start the venture.

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