Interview with Deepa, blogger from India

05/11/19 | Recept

Deepa is not only a blogger, but also a mother and a researcher. She came to the Czech Republic by chance when she met her Czech husband during her studies in Scotland. After 10 years break from Microbiology and in household with Children for the past few years, she returned to her degree and began working at the University of Liberec as a four-year doctoral degree. On top of that, she runs a blog with her Indian recipes and cooks for her family, friends, but also planning to cook for the general public for some events and festivals. She and her husband are currently making video recipes that are going to be posted on the My India blog on an ongoing basis.

Deepa Bartak started cooking from necessity when she moved from India to study in Great Britain. At that time she couldn't even make coffee, at home in India only  her mother cooked. However, Deepa soon learned to cook under the direction of her mother. But nothing is free, her culinary art cost her hours and hours with her mom on the phone and skype when her mother showed her how to cook.

In Cardiff, Scotland, young Deepa studied microbiology and earned a living in the KFC chain, where in 2006 she met a Czech Aleš Barták. They fell in love with each other, and Deepa reconsidered her plans to return to India after finishing studies. They decided to move to the Czech Republic.

At first Deepa cooked her mother's recipes only for her family. Soon, however, she found out that her cooking was very popular, so she set up an online blog Together with her husband, she regularly fills up their blog with Indian recipes.

Read the interview we prepared for you as part of the project Crossing Borders among Praguers.

You have been in the Czech Republic for a while, how do you live here?

I have been great, I have found a good job and I am also studying Microbiology - something what I love. And, more importantly my husband, his family and my work colleagues are very supportive which has made me feel like home.  I can just simplify it by saying India is my 'Motherland' and Czech is definitely my 'Fatherland'. Finding the right balance has helped me to live here happily.

How do you combine work and study at university, family life and editing your MyIndia blog?

I have a great boss who gave me great flexibility because she knows I have children. Also everything is in English, which is a big advantage for me. And more, my husband's family helps a lot.

You mentioned earlier that you speak mainly English at a university, but in everyday life you need Czech to communicate. Do you have any tips on how to improve your Czech?

I improve my Czech by speaking to my Czech mother-in-law a lot. She is the person who taught me Czech. I think that I and my mother-in-law both like to speak a lot about my husband (her son), of course when he is not at home, which has made us bond our relationship and learn Czech at the same time. And also, I try to communicate in Czech whenever it's possible with my husband's family, with teachers at kids kindergarden, shops, at work etc. Google translator has also been my best friend since we moved to Czech Republic. 

You seem to be in contact with Czechs very often. What helps you to integrate into Czech society?

I think the most important thing that has helped me to be a part of Czech society is to learn and try to speak Czech language even if it’s very difficult. People are very happy when I am trying to speak in Czech even if I make million mistakes. We celebrate festivals like Christmas, Easter etc. according to the Czech tradition. I also love to eat and cook Czech food. So, I believe all these have made it easy to integrate into the Czech Society.

Have you encountered any obstacles to integration? For example, any cultural differences projected into relationships in everyday life? Do people around you perceive you differently because you are Indian?

Yes, these differences have made life a bit difficult sometimes. But, as a person, I deeply respect and have adapted to Czech people and culture. I always try my best to blend with Czech people, culture and be a part of the community. Having said that, of course when some people see me for the first time - they see me differently, I think the brown colour of my skin gives away that I am Indian and definitely there is little inhibition to accept me at first instance but once they get to know me as a person, they have always been kind, supportive and have accepted me full heartedly. 

Was that why you decided to start a blog with Indian food? To bring the Czech culture closer to the Czechs and so they could get to know you better?

I think my blog will definitely bring Czech people closer to Indian culture or at least the food. My recipes on the blog is mainly dedicated to Czech people. Since I have been married to Czech man for more than 10 years now, I can definitely understand Czech palate and I make sure to use only the ingredients that are easily available in the Czech republic in local supermarkets like Kaufland, Penny Market, Albert, Lidl or Billa etc. They don't need struggle to find Indian spice shop or go online to buy spices. They can just buy these Ingredients in their regular grocery shops.

Do you plan to continue writing your blog or expand it somewhere further?

Yes, definitely. However, for some time now I have been very busy with exams/studies and work so I didn’t add any new recipes on the blog for a while but I am definitely planning to post some Indian Christmas recipes soon. Also, my husband started a new cooking video channel so we will incorporate these videos in the blog too. We are planning to do more of these cooking videos and of course will continue to write recipes on the blog as well. Here is the link for one of my husband’s cooking video for Indian masala chai

Do you plan to start a restaurant or is cooking just your hobby?

Cooking is my passion and a hobby. I am definitely not planning to start a restaurant and I am not a professional chef. I learn cooking every day from my mother, mother-in-law, sisters, family and friends. And, my husband and children love to eat whatever I cook, so that is a bonus. It makes me motivated and happier to cook. 

You said that you love cooking, what is your favourite food?

My favourite Indian dish is biryani. It is a simple meal that is prepared in India from everything possible. It can be cooked with vegetables, lamb or chicken.

Deepa also allowed us to use one of her recipes, for puri pancakes. Thank you very much for the recipe and interview.

Článek vznikl v rámci projektu Mluvme spolu II, realizovaného Sdružením pro integraci a migraci o.p.s., za finanční podpory Magistrátu hl.m. Praha.


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