An Australian with Indian roots, Nilima Parker has worked for IBM round the world, taught Catechism at her local public school and cooked up a storm wherever she goes. Here she tells us about her passion for travel, cooking, charity work and where to get a really good curry in town.
- You left Mumbai aged 19 to get married and settle in Australia. How did you first adjust to life in Sydney?
For me coming to Australia was a bit of a culture shock, we moved from a high rise apartment in bustling Mumbai to a house in a sleepy Sydney suburb. It was wintertime and I wasn’t sweating, I could finally drink water out of a tap and I could easily buy pretty shoes for my oversized Indian feet. It felt like a win-win all around, despite missing my family and friends.
- In 2008 you moved to Bangalore, India, with your husband and daughter, 20 years after having left Mumbai as a student. How did it feel to return to your homeland after so long away?
For me it felt like a homecoming, I may have left India many years ago but India never left me. However, it was more challenging for my husband and daughter until they looked beyond the heat, dirt and the crowds and discovered India’s wondrous beauty, ancient heritage, ever-changing delicious cuisine and warmly welcoming people.
- What does cooking mean to you and how did you start out in that field?
My parents were foodies and my mum an amazing cook and at a young age we were exposed to cuisines from different countries but my real romance with food began in Tokyo. Here the visual aspect was just as important as the taste. Then moving to Bangalore brought me in touch with an amazing bunch of expat women, all with a passion for cooking and giving. We got together and created Foodforcause, a not-for-profit, that conducted cooking demonstrations from around the world for charity.
- How have you managed to fit walking and running into your busy life?
As a family we love running together and living in such a convenient location such as Madrid means we can take walking tours to fascinating places around Spain and Europe, meet interesting people, eat and keep fit, all at the same time.
- Which are your favourite Indian restaurants here in Madrid?
We love Tandoori Station and Swagat for wholesome Indian food and Benares for modern Indian cuisine with a Spanish twist.
Fortunately I can find all my Indian spices in Lavapies in shops such as Cosmo Cash and Carry.
- What is your secret Madrid?
We love the vibe of Madrid and walking through Chueca and Malasaña in search of our next amazing restaurant, is a regular family pastime. One of our firm favorites is Federal, a café where the owner, an ex-Sydney resident serves “flat whites” and “Lamingtons”.
- How do you think your overseas assignments have shaped your family?
With every move the scenery changes outside your window along with everything and everyone you once knew. The goodbyes are hard though not necessarily final. It’s important to remember that a real home is “where the heart is” We are lucky that all three of us have itchy feet and each assignment gives us a chance to start afresh, to own less and do more, to learn new things and be inspired but most of all, it has changed our whole perspective on life for the better.