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A Pune Girl Finds Her Purpose in Meghalaya

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A Pune Girl Finds Her Purpose in Meghalaya

A Pune Girl Finds Her Purpose in Meghalaya

I am Mrunmayi, originally from Pune and now living in Shillong, Meghalaya.

If you are a Zizira customer, there is a chance that you have already talked to me over a phone call, Facebook chat or through emails.

If you are a Maharashtrian, I am sure you have wondered how a girl named Mrunmayi is working in Meghalaya. (Haha… you are not alone to think so! ??)

Moving to Shillong was the best thing we did.

Me and my husband came to Shillong for his post-graduation. We decided to opt for Shillong out of various options like Siliguri, Kolkata and some other cities in the southern part of India. Moving to this beautiful city has turned out to be the best decision in our lives so far.

I always thought I would never like any other place to live in but Meghalaya proved me wrong.

My First Day in Meghalaya

It was in June, 2018 that we first came here. And I vividly remember the day I set foot in the North-East.  We had a flight from Pune to Guwahati with one stop in Kolkata.

We reached Guwahati around noon. The city was hot and humid which was surprising for me at that moment. For some reason, I believed Meghalaya and Assam will have similar climate.

We booked a cab from Guwahati airport to Shillong which is roughly a 3-4 hours journey with moderate traffic on the road.

We started our journey and a few minutes later - I felt a cool breeze on my face and I quickly felt fresh. I could see that we were going through the shades of trees lining the road.  There was something in that air which took all my travel and layover fatigue away.  At this point, I curiously opened my window to get the full view of the outside.

As I was sliding down the window, I heard our driver saying- "Welcome to Meghalaya'.

 

My first look at the scenic beauty will remain etched in my memory

I was looking at mountains covered in dense forests, clouds hovering over the hilltops and cute little treehouses tucked in the corners of the hills.

That's it! That was my first moment in Meghalaya.

Immediately after we crossed the Assam border, I experienced the cold climate, and I found out the reason why this place is called the "abode of the clouds." My first memory of Meghalaya is still fresh as if it happened a few minutes back. That was the moment I knew I was in the right place.

I believed that only good things can happen in a place that looks and feels so pure.

 

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I truly believe this state is blessed and God has put some extra efforts in creating this treasure chest.

I am discovering the Inner Beauty of the State

In no time, I planned for treks, long drives and trips to famous tourist locations. After my first 4-day trip exploring Meghalaya with my friends, it was impossible to stop me. My entire year went by fast exploring this amazing state. I have a long list of favourite places in Meghalaya. Shnongpdeng, Nongriat, Laitlum, Wei sawdong waterfalls, and Golf link are on top of this list.

 

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Serenity! #NorthEastIndia #Meghalaya #MeghalayaTourism #IncredibleIndia

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The rains in Shillong are truly memorable with misty mornings and the magical fog everywhere. To a girl who grew up in Pune, fog is much more mesmerizing than it is to people of Meghalaya. After 2 years in Shillong, I still spring from my chair and run outside when there is fog.

 

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Misty mornings ! ?

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Life is too short to ignore such priceless treasures nature throws at us ? #ShotOnOnePlus6t #Nature #NorthEastIndia

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I was already mesmerized with the uniqueness of Shillong weather, culture and food, when, a year later, I was introduced to Zizira.

I am living the purpose of Zizira

I joined Chillibreeze Solutions Pvt. Ltd. in April 2019 in Human Resource function. My first-day orientation was at Zizira and I was briefly introduced to Zizira's vision and products.

I went home and read more about Zizira and the story behind this unique initiative of Chillibreeze. What intrigued me the most was the vision of Zizira – “Making Meghalaya Farmers Famous”

Zizira has focused on the farmer community to release their potential by giving them a bigger and better market for their valuable produce.

I have had the opportunities to work with many SMEs in my professional life of almost 9 years. Chillibreeze and Zizira are my most unique experiences so far. When I say unique, I mean the Culture and commitment to the vision and mission of the organization.

Zizira inherits Chillibreeze’s vision of “Releasing the potential of North East India” and focuses on the potential of the farmer community.

After working for a few months in Chillibreeze, I moved to Zizira. Now I am working closely with the Zizira team and living the purpose of this company. Zizira is a team of dynamic, local and young people plus me. ?

It is a team of explorers who are courageous to do things no one else is willing to do. Zizira team is finding out the challenges of farmers in Meghalaya and trying to overcome them.

“Epic trips” are a perfect example of the challenges Zizira is willingly accepting. Zizira team often goes for the exploration trips in the remote villages. Most of these villages are 4-5 hours of a trek away from main roads. Our young team and our young at heart CEO (69-yrs old) go for these treks with a determination to find new herbs, spices and new farmer partners.

Many remote villages are poorly connected to markets. There are no proper roads or means of transportation and the farmers have to invest a lot of time and money just to reach the markets.

Zizira is playing a part in making the lives of these farmers easier.

I consider myself fortunate to be part of this effort. The effort for releasing the potential of the people. Working at Zizira has made me grateful for the comforts of my life. I saw how the farmers live in the remote parts and how hard they have to work to make their living.

I Discovered My Potential

When I started working with the Zizira team, I spent most of my time talking to people. I spoke to a lot of Zizira customers, some farmers and Zizira team members. Talking directly with customers helped me learn about Zizira faster than any kind of orientation.

This is how we learn in Zizira, by actually doing something rather than attending training or courses. We challenge ourselves to do more and get better by reading, exploring, trying and experimenting. If we succeed, there is joy and if we fail, there is learning. ?

I spent the first 2 months in handling customer support and sales. I came to realize; this role is really important for any E-commerce start-up. You need to listen to customers carefully and learn from their needs, problems, experiences, and feedback.

I learnt a lot through customer interactions

Just by talking to customers, I was able to give inputs for website content, social media posts, product labels, product information, recipes and so on.

I have learned so much from our customers too. I had the opportunity to speak to a 'Mumbai Hero', Dr. Lalit Anande who is a famous TB Specialist in Mumbai. He has appeared on a famous talk show “Satyamev Jayate” for his contribution in spreading awareness about Tuberculosis. I got to learn more about Turmeric and Honey from him. He was so nice to us and he also shared some research papers which support the effectiveness of turmeric in the prevention and cure of many health problems.

I had a chance to speak to a talented actress Tillotama Shome who is remembered for her great performance in “Monsoon Wedding”. I will always remember talking to her about natural farming and sustainable living. We all were so glad when she posted a picture of Zizira gift basket on her social media profile.

I almost became friends with some of our customers and learned their stories. People who were passionate about their morning ‘Bulletproof Coffee”, people who were obsessed with their “Balanced diet and exercise” and those who are crazy about “Unique Food”. There were some who were passionate about 'Sustainable living'. The list of such interesting personalities goes on and on.

Many other times, I had a chance to speak to people who were buying something for their children, grandchildren and loved ones. I always enjoyed talking to Moms, I could feel the care and concern in their voices and questions. I was happy to answer their caring doubts as if I were talking to my own family. ?

I don’t think that I was always perfect doing these things. I have faced challenges and failed at times. Every time I failed to provide the information a customer needed or lacked in giving them good service, I learned something new and worked on myself.

Zizira team is fanatical about customer experience. We really go the extra mile to make our customers happy and it hurts the entire team when we hear even a single customer unhappy with us.

Although I never met any of our customers, I have always enjoyed these talks I have had. I really hope I left them feeling the same way too. ?

I picked up the courage to take on bigger challenges

After learning well about Zizira’s vision, customers and farmers, I wanted to do more and try my skills at research and product development. Soon, I got an opportunity to do that too.

I had observed that people mostly drink red tea in Meghalaya. It is called Sha-saw. Most of the population is unaware of the craze of ‘chai’ in the rest of the country.  Coming from Pune's 'Amrutatulya' culture, I could not have missed this fact. It really bothered me that Zizira was not having any ‘Chai’ products and then I decided to develop it.

Zizira was already sourcing the tea, bay leaf, lemongrass, ginger from different farmers. We already had all the ingredients required to make a perfect “Masala Chai” blend. I just had to figure out the right spices, right proportions to make a product and the details of manufacturing it on a bigger scale.

A month of research, experiments, testing and sourcing – We finally had our “Classic Masala Chai” live on our website. I can never forget that feeling of creating a product for people to enjoy every day. I remember the day when we got the first sale for Chai blend. I also remember the day we got amazing feedback for “Classic Masala Chai”

This feeling of serving our customers with something they will value and enjoy is just priceless.

After a confidence boost by “Chai”, I kept on struggling with the product development for a while. Finally, I had my breakthrough with “Infused Honey”.

With a lot of research and experiments with the team, we launched “Turmeric Twist Honey” and “Spicy Twist Honey”

 

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#chai

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I started to write

Within a short span of 3-4 months, I had lots of information in my head and in my study folder. I wanted to make use of all the things I learnt from customers as well as from my own research. This urge to share the information unknowingly led me to write blogs and social media posts.

I have discovered I love doing this! I love to learn about things and then I love to share my learnings with others. I wrote blogs about the spices of North East. Then I wrote some more about my favourite Bhut Jolokia.

Writing social media posts and blogs really helped me improve my writing skills. I am still learning this new skill and trying to get better.

 

Taking more responsibilities helped me grow

Everything I just described, I never thought I would do or experience. Working with small teams is an amazing experience. I got to wear many hats and I had to be responsible in each role. I was responsible because I knew my work affects many lives, lives of farmers and customers. The more responsibilities I accepted, it helped me grow and be a better person.

I was glad to work with the team who had exactly the same mindset and dedication towards work.

I have made some great friends in Chillibreeze and in Zizira. We all work with dedication and pour our hearts into our work. Our sincerity towards the vision reflects in our work and it binds us together.

Khasi Food I Love

Working at Zizira wasn’t only good for my brain but for my foodie soul too. Thanks to my friends in Zizira, I have discovered my love for the local khasi food, specially Jadoh and Phan-Tungtap.

Ja-doh is Rice with the meat of your choice. It is served with salad, pickles or chutneys. There are many places in Shillong serving tasty Jadoh such as ‘Trattoria’ in Policebazar. However, I found the small breakfast joints run by elderly Khasi ladies whom we call ‘kong’ (respectful prefix for women) much better than any restaurants.

 

 

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You have asked for a local recipe, so here is one. Jadoh! ? . It is a favorite dish of Khasis, and my personal favorite too. None can resist Jadoh, especially when it's served hot, straight from the fire. ? . Today I'm gonna share with you the secret recipe of this dish that can win hearts. Try it! ❤ . Jadoh: Serves 3 food lovers . Ingredients: ✔ 2 cups of hill rice/joha rice or any short-grained rice, washed and drained ✔ 300 gms of pork (with fat)-cut into small 1/2inch cubes ✔ 1 medium-size onion, chopped ✔ 1tbsp ginger paste ✔ 1/2 tsp of turmeric ✔ 1 tsp of ground black pepper ✔ salt-to taste ✔ 2 bay leaves ✔ 2 tbsp of vegetable oil ✔ fresh cilantro for garnishing . Method: Use a medium heat throughout. ◼ Firstly, heat the oil in a pot. Add the onions, ginger paste, turmeric, and black pepper and fry till the oil separates. ◼ Burn the tip of the bay leaves and immediately drop in the pan. Add the pork pieces and fry for some time till light brown. ◼ Add the washed rice and fry for 2-3 minutes. Add some salt to taste. ◼ Add 4 cups of water and simmer till cooked. ◼ Garnish with cilantro and serve. . Voila! There you have our most coveted Jadoh. ? Serve hot! ?? . Just a tip, Jadoh goes well with Doh Sniang Neiiong (pieces of pork cooked with grounded sesame seeds), Phan Sdieh (Khasi fried potatoes with vegetables), and Tungtap (hot dried fish chutney). You can have Jadoh along with your choice of meat or side vegetables you can get from the stall. ?? . Invite your guests, and try this local Khasi recipe. ? Let us know how you find it. ?? . . . P.C.: @rohitm31 , @children_of_gluttony #localfood #localfoods #localfoodie #localfoodmovement #localfoodfest #localfoodforlife #localfoodfirst #localfoodies #localfoodmatters #localfoodsystems #localfoodtruck #localfoodconnectsnm #localfoodz #localfoodfun #localfoodmarket #localfoodmich #localfoodguide #localfoodsg #localfoodbritain #localfoodshouston #localfoodschicago #localfoodsurrey #localfoodthailand #localfoodlocalpratt #localfoodlove #localfoodrocks #localfoodphuket #localfoodeconomy #localfooddelivery #localfoodsystem

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Phan-Tungtap is a dish to be enjoyed with your favourite people, preferably around a bonfire on a chilly winter night. I have not had a chance to do that yet, but I tried it in ‘You & I - Arts Café’.

Phan-Tungtap is a basket full of boiled potatoes (phan) served with salt, chilli, Tungtap (Dry fish chutney) and local raw herbs. I will never forget this meal I had with my friends, peeling the steaming potatoes for our hunger and deep conversations for our souls.

My breakfast time in office is incomplete without a Pukhlein (Rice cake) and sha saw (Red tea).

My foodie friends here introduced me to traditional dishes such as Tungtap and Tungrymbai (Fermented soyabeans chutney). These are the notorious dishes with a pungent smell and we really need to acquire the taste. After you have had it for 2-3 times, its smell actually becomes an aroma that triggers your hunger.

It is not just traditional recipes that amazed me. Every single vegetable, herb, spice or fruit I saw in Shillong markets were unique in their looks and  taste. Thanks to my time in Zizira, I learned about their significance for our health too.

 

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Sometimes our mornings are busy. We don’t have time for breakfast. . But at Zizira, we are lucky to have Beth, from a local shop, who comes to our office every morning to sell her breakfast of the day. ? . She will carry a basket full of traditional food items ?. Some food will be wrapped, cooked, and served in a banana leaf. ? . Here are a few traditional snacks of the Khasis: . 'Shriew' or Yam which is boiled or steamed. . 'Phan karo' or Sweet potato which is boiled or steamed. . 'Pu-doh' or Steamed rice cake made of ground khasi red rice and pork strips. . 'Pu-maloi' or Steamed rice cake made of ground khasi red rice. . 'Pu-khleiñ' or Fried rice cake. Ground Khasi red rice and fried in oil and dipped in jaggery syrup. . 'Phan Dieng' or Tapioca which is boiled or steamed. . 'Ja Pnah' or Khasi sticky rice that we normally have it with sugar. . 'Ja doh' or Black Sesame rice with chicken. . All these are incomplete without 'Sha Saw' or hot red tea and yes it is served in a china tea cup. . What's your morning rush hour breakfast? Tell us about it. . #khasi #traditionalfood #meghalaya #shillong #meghalayafooddiaries #meghalayafood #northeastfood #northeastfoodies #ethnicfood #khasifood #khasifoods

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I Found my purpose

My 2 years in Meghalaya flew by fast, but I like to believe that I really lived here.

I was close to nature all the time, and I was working on myself at work. I learned to accept the challenges without complaining and pushed myself to overcome them.

I remember meeting kong Elvira, Beekeeper from Mawsynram village near Cherrapunji. She approached Zizira and told us she has raw honey which she is not able to sell. We found her honey to be pure and of unique taste. We started sourcing honey from her when she had 40 beehives. Now a few months later, she has built more than 100 beehives. Thanks to Zizira, she does not have to roam to other villages and markets. Now, she can concentrate on expanding her beekeeping business and taking care of the bees.

I remember meeting her for the first time, and then there was our recent meeting.

Kong Elvira had a twinkle of happiness in her eyes, she radiated confidence thanks to having seen a growth in her own business and she had a grateful smile for Zizira.

There it was! My purpose was sitting in front of me- Smiling and grateful.

I thought this is what I want to do in my life. Make a difference in the lives of people and leave them feeling happy, confident and grateful for life.

I wish to stay here forever

I have loved my almost 2 years in Shillong and I have discovered such wonderful treasures in Meghalaya. It was everything, the nature, the food, the uniqueness of this land and not to forget, the amazing people of Meghalaya. ?

I am so much in love with this state that I wish to stay here forever. Being here and working with Zizira has made me a better person and I am forever grateful.

 

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? #Nature #NorthEastIndia #CherryBlossom #Amusing #WinterMorning #Meghalaya

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4 Responses

UMESH RAJANIKANT SHAH
UMESH RAJANIKANT SHAH

July 08, 2020

Hello,
In December 2019 we a group of 4 CAs visited Meghalaya with spouses. We were tipped by our good friend Malav Nawab to visit Zizira without fail. And so we did. We were greeted by Ms. Mrunmayi! And from the word go we knew we were with a good friend. She arranged to display the products, helped us with choosing the products as per our likings and helped with good packing et al. All these with a smiling and friendly face. Later on also she helped me with buying few more products to be delivered to me at Ahmedabad. So Zizira has team of really dedicated and passionate people. No wonder Zizira will accomplish its mission soon.

Mrunmayi
Mrunmayi

July 08, 2020

Hello Prabhakar,

You can order any of Meghalaya’s unique spices and herbs from our website. You can see all our products here- www.zizira.com/collections/all
Please connect with us on 8119840256 (WhatsApp or Call) so we can help you with any information you need.

Usually, it takes around a week for products to reach you, However, due to lockdown and government restrictions in many regions, it might take a little longer right now.
Don’t worry, our customer support team is always there to help you with updates and we will make sure you receive all the products you need. ??

You can go ahead and place the order!

-Regards,
Mrunmayi, Zizira team

Mrunmayi
Mrunmayi

July 08, 2020

Hello Umesh ji,

Thank you so much for sharing your experience at Zizira. ??
I remember that cheerful and curious group of yours. I had a great time talking to you all ?

Visit Zizira again or send your other friends to meet us in Shillong.

Regards,
Mrunmayi, Zizira team

Prabhakar Bhosale
Prabhakar Bhosale

July 08, 2020

I am staying in Mumbai. How can I order some spice items ?
How much time to get the delivery ?

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