Hi it’s me Sunita! Author and creator of The Jai Jais. I thought I would come out from behind the books and tell you a little more about…simply “me”.
I was born in Macclesfield, Cheshire U.K. I grew up in a small town which was not very diverse at the time, things have certainly changed over forty years on. I have an elder brother who is my rock! Growing up we were the only South Asians in school. Having children myself I can truly say how much I admire my parents for balancing and mixing the two cultures, and religion.
I went to a Catholic school, attended Sunday School, went to mass at school, visited churches to pray. I even knew the Lord’s main prayers the “Our Father” and “Hail Mary” which I have taught my children. I wasn’t a Christian but the environment I was exposed to we integrated well as a family. Holding my rosary beads in one hand and my Japa Mala in another!!. I thank my parents for their flexibility making us a part of the community, which we grew up. Sure we had boundaries and I would often hear my parents say, “…but you are Indian remember that”. I loved when we were learning about Hinduism or India at school, and was always so proud to talk about my culture and religion. Making Diyas at school, colouring rangoli’s and talking about the intriguing monkey and elephant gods. Mum would even come in and share food and put sari’s on the girls in my class. They would love the Bindi’s and Henna.
Our nearest temple was over and hour away in Manchester, and we had our temple at home. Still not a day goes by where the Diya in not lit and the incense burnt. We would visit the temple on large festivals and always dance all nine nights away during Navratri. Precious moments from being a young girl which I appreciate so much more now.
Food has also been a big part of our family. My dad and I are HUGE foodie’s. Our nearest South Asian shops were an hour away so when we went shopping it was definitely about stocking up and freezing fresh Indian vegetables. We are Gujarati and my mother has passed down her skill sin the kitchen. I just love cooking for family and friends all cuisines and definitely have my own version of fusion dishes! I even set up a food group on Facebook called “What’s for Dinner Tonight mum?”, I never knew how the group would grow. We have nearly 80k members in over 55 countries. It’s a wonderful community of budding home chefs and the dominance is South Asian food. It’s amazing to see how food has its own universal language and how it brings people together.
I trained to become as Speech and Language Therapist in Leeds and had the most memorable three years, which so much fun. I met the most amazing people. Friendships that will last life time. In fact that is where I met my husband, and we have been married for 17 years. I worked in the NHS for 20 years. Initially in a mixed post with adults who had suffered stroke, road traffic accidents and neurological diseases. I then focused on working with paediatrics. It’s been such magical moments hearing a child say their first words in my clinic room, and the look on the parents faces. I have had the pleasure of working with thousands of children and their families with communication difficulties such as Autism, Down’s Syndrome, Cleft lip and plate, Stammering, and Language Disorders to name a few. Even though I have taken on management roles my passion is still helping and working with the children and families, supporting them with the magical gift of communication.
I started my own Practice in 2008 called Together Let’s Communicate Limited. I have been blessed to build on my skills and foundations and truly specialise intervention to support families. I also have a training practice and have specialised in Bilingual Language development. Supporting NHS departments and educational settings nationally, to identify bilingual children with communication difficulties, and delivering a culturally competent service. I was the Chair of the London Clinicals Excellence Network for 10 years and currently I am of the advisors for the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapy in Bilingualism. I think bilingualism is such a fundamental skills which has a multitude of benefits.
I got married in 2003, and have two wonderful boys Syon aged 8 and Dhiyan aged 4. I am not shy to announce both my children were conceived by IVF. I still think this is such a taboo subject within South Asian community. I had a very positive journey with my treatment and feel there should be more support for women dispelling myths and attitudes.
Life in general certainly does throw you curve balls, and after the birth of my second son I nearly lost my life. The first time I was even string enough to hold him he is 8 weeks hold… that’s a story for another time, none the less, as the saying goes what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger and it did! During that period there was a lot of self-reflection and change. There is no force more powerful than a woman decided to rise!
My mum is a Reiki master, she trained later in life so I did not grow up with Reiki, but as a family we have embraced the energy, power and vibrations into our daily life. Even when my little one cannot sleep he asks his Nani for Reiki. Our house is filled with crystals, and not a day goes by that I don’t speak to my guardian angel, or ask for hep from my arc angels. They are a wonderful influence in my world.
My son have been the inspiration behind my beloved Jai Jais, this year we will be celebrating our 5th Birthday. I often get asked how the pandemic life has treated me… well after what I have been through in the past…. It’s been a unique journey. Treasuring family time, giving my time to The Jai Jais, time for me to write, and realise what truly is important in life. I lived in London for 16 years and 18 months ago swapped my silhouettes for wellies and have never looked back-I love the country life, the fresh air, the country walks and picnics by the lakes. I feel now that now I am a “mindful mum”. I love my children grow up in an environment they can play in the street, being the mummy to pick them up daily from school. I truly have found my happy place, my balance. There is never a day I wake up in the morning and dread my working day. Each day is filled with love from my boys and the amazing support of family and friends, and the gift of knowledge learning from every day.
The most amazing part of the journey and messages I hear from teachers, parents and children themselves are:
“It’s amazing to see all the culture for the childhood education. There is hope now to see culture and religion will carry on with your books, you are not only educating children but a generation. So much of what I am learning from you through my children I never knew” B.L
I told my son Syon that I was writing a blog, and asked him what I should put in… He said mummy do a “quick fire round”, and he gave me these ten questions:
- What is your favourite colour? Fifty shades of green!
- What is your favourite animal? Whales and elephants
- What is naughty but nice? Eating Biscoff from a jar!
- What is the best place you visited? Apart for my love of India Bahamas
- What is your favourite word? Serendipity
- What is one of the best books you have read? ‘Shantaram’ by Gregory Roberts and The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris.
- Favourite chill out music? Jazz
- Favourite food: Pani Puri
- Favourite book as a child: ‘The Lion and the Witch and the Wardrobe’ by C.S. Lewis
- Favourite season: Summer and summer vibes when we get sun in U.K
I wanted to finally say thanks to all my family and friends for their support. For all of you believing in me and bringing the Jai Jais into your hearts and home.