‘I always wanted to be a restaurateur’ • Last Updated: May 13. 2008 7:28PM UAE / May 13. 2008 3:28PM GMTSeema Shetty, Executive Director of Bite Rite in Abu Dhabi. Jaime Puebla / The NationalI was born in the Corniche Hospital in 1982. My parents are from Mangalore in Karnataka,India. My father came to Abu Dhabi in 1973 as a pharmacist. He married my mother in 1975 andshe came here in 1976. First my mother helped my father in his business and now she is themedical director for all the NMC hospitals in Abu Dhabi.I went to private primary and secondary schools in Abu Dhabi. I liked the fact that peoplewere from different nationalities. It meant that right from the beginning we were able tounderstand the differences between people – differences of traditions and culture. I studiedmarketing and entrepreneurship at Boston University. There, it was a lot easier to acceptdifferent people and make them comfortable. I wish I had learnt more about finance but it’s OK,I’ll marry someone who is good at that. My marriage will be arranged, but one of my my criteriato my parents is that I want someone from a finance background.It’s very tough to say what I like about Abu Dhabi. It’s my home and I’m very comfortablehere. Even while I was in Boston, in the back of my head I was always ready to come back.What’s nice about it is that the families who are here have been here for a very long time. In a lotof other countries people go abroad and try to get citizenship. But for us it wasn’t even aquestion – our whole life is built here. We have family in India and my parents go back often –it’s only three hours away – but our bread and butter is here in the UAE.I get up at 8am. Breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as snacks come directly to me because I’mon the Bite Rite plan. I used to be obese, but even now I have the worst habits in the world. Idon’t like any physical exercise apart from dancing. I’m involved in four companies, Bite Rite,Zari Zardozi (an Indian restaurant/club/shisha restaurant at the Royal Meridien hotel), ajewellery business called Dancing Bird and I am also planning to start a chain of fitness clubs. Iam into preventive medicine. While I was starting Zari Zardosi I became obese. I put on 15 or 18kilos trying out all the food. My parents kept me in the clinic in the department of nutrition, but Iended up cursing the doctors. I didn’t like their prescriptions about how I should live. When Icomplained, my mum said I should do something about it. We try to take a holistic approach. We
try to make sure that balanced healthy food is available everywhere and anywhere, that it’seconomical and that our cafe looks good, because otherwise people won’t make the switch.I always wanted to be a restaurateur. In business one has to understand they never knoweverything. I am always learning from everyone – my subordinates, colleagues and superiors.You also need patience for everything you do. Things take time and you can’t expect success tohappen overnight. There are problems when people let their egos get in the way ofunderstanding. Any decision that needs to be made needs to be made today and never left forlater. I’ve seen that when I am frustrated things get delayed much more than usual. You have tounderstand a person’s capability and ask yourself if that person is someone who is benefitingyour initiatives. If the person is someone who is benefiting you, give them all the time they need.But if that person has nothing significant to offer and can be replaced, then you replace them.I am extremely lazy but if I am passionate about something I’ll go all the way. I only do thingsI’m passionate about but I’m happy as long as I’m doing something that’s different andworthwhile where I am contributing. I have no regrets. Every regret I work out to my advantage.My parents are the most important people in my life. I can’t bear death. I recently lost two peopleclose to me. I have no idea if there is a heaven, it’s too far ahead. But I know I will be buried inUdupi in India, where our family comes from. We cremate the body and mix the ash with mud.A plant grows from it.