Love of Nature
I grew up in a small village in the English countryside surrounded by nature. I developed a love for the natural world and the environment and spent much of my time outside — horse riding, camping, and hill walking were favourite pastimes.
My connection to the environment became a big part of who I was. I soon realised that nature needs balance and care to thrive, so I found conservation projects to be involved with early in my life. I remember being on Cader Idris, removing non-native rhododendrons to help native species thrive, and at lakes in Norfolk, pulling out weeds to help the wildlife come through. I have always felt a strong need to protect the environment to this day.
As a busy adult, it can be hard to find the time to stay connected with nature, though I crave that same closeness of my childhood. So, I often take early morning walks to connect with wildlife and appreciate the beauty of untouched nature.
Being Vegan and Chasing Flavours
My connection to the environment shaped my values and eventually extended to my food choices.
I constantly challenge myself to consider the balance of nature and the sustainability of what we put on our plates — becoming a vegan seemed like a natural decision when I looked at the environmental benefits a plant-based diet could offer. Veganism opened up new vistas of learning and a path to self-discovery. This wasn’t just food; it was an alignment of self. I was eating in a way that was in tune with the environment and my own body.
I thrived on learning about the flavours, ingredients and cooking techniques from other cuisines where vegetables and legumes form the base of many dishes. I discovered that Eastern recipes rely on the heavy use of pulses, grains and spices; this type of cuisine tied in perfectly with my new way of eating. My body loved the fresh whole foods, and my taste buds were excited by the array of flavours.
My cooking skills transformed to suit my new normal, though I’m still learning how to adapt recipes that rely on animal products while preserving the essence of the dish. I find that this learning is an ongoing journey on the road to healthy living.
While my way of eating and my inner values began to align, my career was on a different path.
After working in finance for years, I began to feel that this was not my life’s purpose, and I felt as though I was drifting away from my core beliefs. My nature loving-self craved connection with the environment and wildlife, though I was constantly boxed in an office. I had the strong desire to live a more purposeful life, to do something that made a difference and honoured my core values.
Then, Subha and I crossed paths in the corporate world. Subha always talked about her childhood memories, of the food and flavours that she missed. I had one of those ‘aha’ moments when Subha brought back vegan sweets from India — it triggered a conversation about how great it would be to introduce some of these flavours to the UK.
We developed a joint dream and, since then, I haven’t looked back at my old corporate life.
Creating Bodha has been an exciting journey — discovering new flavours, new ingredients and creating all-natural, unique drinks is my new journey.
It’s been liberating to incorporate the things that are important to me as a co-founder of Bodha. Making sustainable decisions as we build our business, and using natural, authentic, vegan ingredients in our soft drink range.
I remember walking along the shoreline of the Bay of Bengal every Sunday evening at dusk, holding my mom’s hand, browsing food stalls selling local delicacies and fresh produce. We always stopped at three places — the first was a corn on the cob cart, the second a raw mango salad stall, and the third was a hawker selling fresh, tender coconut water.
The corn had to be picked without opening the outer shell, which meant you had to feel the corn with your hands to make sure it was juicy and tender. To pick the right ones, you had to have a surgeon’s skilled touch. The hawker cooked it in an open coal fire, then coated it with lemon, biting chilli, and salt. It was smoky, spicy, tangy, salty with a kick of chilli, a food memory for life.
Stop two - it took me a few years to be able to pick the right mango; my mom’s careful selection process was hard to master. Tender coconut water was in its own league. You had to knock it with your knuckle, shake it and listen to the sounds, then pick the coconut with the right outer colour based on the season. It was a perfect wash-down drink with the right level of sweetness and goodness of pure natural flavours.
My mom taught me to how to pick the best fruits, how to cut vegetables, and even how to fillet a fish! My mom’s a genius with understanding ingredients, flavour profiles and food pairings. She has always cooked with her heart and soul. She took no shortcuts – food, flavours, and cooking itself was a journey that had to be enjoyed.
I learnt from her that if you cook with love, you can taste it in the dish — I tasted her love in every smell and every bite of her food. Her teachings on the art of culinary expression made me hungry to learn more about the world of food and flavours. I joined a culinary school in India.
Much like the love for my mother’s food, I was enchanted by every bite of London when I moved there to study. The sights, the sounds, the style — London was love at first sight.
The London square mile schooled me in the world of business. I had multiple gigs in banking and finance and met some amazing people, including my hubby who is also a foodie. I became a Londoner for love.
Hubby and I entertained and shared our love for food with friends and family. Sumptuous biryanis, Indian BBQs, authentic, tangy fish curries and crispy dosas are just a few of the delights from my mother’s kitchen that I recreated in my home.
Nostalgia of home
I yearned for some of the authentic flavours of my childhood, perhaps it was just nostalgia.
Every trip I made back to Madras brought up childhood memories of walking to the local fishmonger or the Sunday vegetable market hand in hand with my mom and returning home with bags of fresh produce. The trek on hot, sunny days always had us sweating and exhausted. My mom and I would stop at the corner shop to quench our thirst with freshly squeezed sugarcane juice with a hint of ginger and lemon. Fresh and sweet with a ginger hit, calmed by the sharpness of lemon. Burst of flavours and food memories.
I missed those glorious days spent with my mom. She shared her knowledge and brought the joy and love of food and flavour into my life. I wanted to share the joy of flavours and love of food to the world. I just wasn’t sure how, yet.
Bodha – An Awakening
Meeting Ros at work changed everything. She was an inspiration, someone I looked up to, and the timing seemed like good providence: it couldn’t have been more perfect.
We were both at crossroads in our corporate careers. We had a spark of an idea that became a shared dream — to bring authentic eastern flavours to the UK soft drink market, inspired by nostalgia.
I had no experience in creating a new soft drink. This was brand new to me, which in many ways was a blessing. I couldn’t see boundaries or hurdles. I could only see Bodha and our dream coming to life. We were in this together.
It’s the real story of Bodha.