I have known Dipal Khabaria Parikh for more than two decades; she was my senior at the Taj Mahal Hotel Palace and Tower, Mumbai. We have kept in touch through various media though we didn’t really meet in these two decades. I have observed her inspirational journey very closely. It is an honour to feature the dynamic and inspirational lady; who has been a hospitality professional with a diverse career graph. Doing her best in whatever she took up. She has had a fabulous career growth across sectors and has balanced her personal and professional life with élan, creating benchmarks for many to follow. She is a mentor to many professionals. IWH in conversation with Ms. Dipal Parikh, Bowtech Therapist and Assistant to the National Coordinator for Bowen Therapy Association of India
IWH: Tell us something about you, your growing up years, life through school, college etc.
Dipal Parikh: I have had a very grounded upbringing in a joint family with my grandparents, parents, an elder sister and a younger brother. Coming from a family of Teachers, my Grandmaa was a teacher for 40 years and my mom retired as a Principal from the Municipal Corporation after serving for 30 plus years, education was of utmost importance in our family. My schooling years were full of fun, reading, dancing and complaints from teachers about my talkative, mischievous, playful nature at the Mary Immaculate Girls High School – Borivali, Mumbai, India. In retrospect my entire attitude is based on my childhood, being a girl’s only school we had carefree attitude but the teachers and nuns always insisted that we, ‘Walk like ladies and talk like ladies’. We were encouraged to participate in sports as well as to be polite, speak the right English and be humble.
College was selected on the basis of the fact that though good in Mathematics I did not find Commerce interesting (knew enough thanks to my elder Sister who went ahead to be a Chartered Accountant). Science and Arts were ruled out and I ended up taking Home Science at the S.V.T. College 0f Home Science –Juhu, Mumbai; again a girl’s only institute.
We could specialize in any of the eight options available to us, I choose Family Resource Management, through which I specialized in Hospitality Management. The reason was simple – it had more practicals and offered internship at a Hotel. During internship though, more than the glamour of a five-star hotel, what interested and intrigued me was how things worked in a chaotic yet systematic way behind the scenes. By God’s grace the internship that I did at The Taj Mahal Hotel Mumbai, sealed my future in the form of my first job right out of college in 1995.
IWH: What made you select a career in hospitality and wellness? Was it easy making that decision?
Dipal Parikh: The first job at The Taj Mahal ensured all dreams of further studies remained just that – dreams. Everyone that I knew or who knew me would suddenly speak with respect, amazement and wonder only because I was going to work at The Taj Mahal, all this even before I turned 20 years old.
I had enjoyed the internship and equally enjoyed working there later despite the long hours, shift duties, early hours, nothing felt more perfect in life. It was a dream I was living, best friends, best environment, best coworkers. It was just awesome as to how everybody, right from the Room boy to up the ladder everyone knew what they had to do and they did it with dedication and love for The Taj. I have worked in many places thereafter but never found that love for the Institute ever. The Taj gave me the opportunity to study with the AHMA and specialize in Housekeeping further. After marriage working in shifts was becoming difficult. I agreed to take up my first job as the Executive Housekeeper at The Shalimar Hotel – Kemps Corner, a three-star property when I was all of 25 years only.
It was amusing for the staff there to see a young HOD who would check all the rooms, all the public areas and banquets and still make the reports and handle the Linen Room daily. Eventually boredom set in and I decided to take a break.
I was introduced to computers at the Taj, so empowering myself by taking up short courses at NIIT was the sensible thing. In no time I was offered a job at The Lilavati Hospital as HOD Housekeeping and Laundry. The decision to join healthcare industry was easier to make due to my love of challenges. Also, they wanted someone with a Hotel background, but as soon as I joined, the first thing, I realized was I had no understanding of Healthcare Housekeeping, forget laundry operations. We were to go for our ISO Certification for the first time and here a new, naïve and amateur HOD was trusted with the herculean task of making SOP’s for all areas. No one knew where to start and what to do. Everyday for the next whole year was like going to school, I was a student, a teacher and the Principal all at the same time. Would learn from the consultants that were hired, teach the supervisory staff and ultimately check on the training they imparted to the actual work force. Don’t remember how many hours were put in to make the final SOP. Which was the Holy book for Housekeeping in a Five Star Hospital.
IWH: What is your current role? Tell us something about your company/ organization.
Dipal Parikh: My last posting was at The Raheja Hospital, Fortis as Dy. Manager Support Services that included Housekeeping, Laundry, F&B, Dietetics, Pest Control, Security, Drivers, Ward staff etc. around 8 years back. While I was doing really well professionally, time spent with my children was reducing gradually. I quit the industry and decided to be a full-time mother to my lovely boys. But it was not to be… The therapy that had saved my son from years of agony that he faced at a tender age, which was due to constipation and enema was calling me. Our trainer was in town and I decided to learn this wonderful technique with the sole aim to help those in need without using conventional medicine.
Currently away from the hospitality industry I am a Bowtech Therapist and Assistant to the National Coordinator for Bowen Therapy Association of India. It is an Amazing Australian therapy that I was fortunate to experience the benefits of and later learn and now practice it at my own clinic at Santacruz. It is a unique, non-intrusive complimentary, state of the art therapy practised in over 40 countries now. It was developed by the late Tom Bowen from Geelong, Australia in the 1950’s.Tom Bowen invited Oswald Rentsch (Osteopath) and his wife Elaine (Homeopaths) to study with him and document his work. Honoring their promise to Bowen, they began to teach the technique in 1986 and established THE BOWEN THERAPY ACADEMY OF AUSTRALIA. Our Trainer Ms. Farida Irani comes to India twice every year to ensure we stay tuned in to the latest developments as well as new trainings are carried out. We are striving to keep the technique pure with no dilution, as it works very effectively on its own, in its original format. BOWEN is a gentle HOLISTIC technique of soft tissue manipulation. The Bowtech moves enable results by activating the body’s own ability to heal itself thereby stimulating an immediate healing process.We work on the fascia, which is an underlying sheath or connective network in the body. In the past 7 years since I started practicing, have had the privilege to treat patients right from new born babies to 99-year olds and the results have been profound and I am only humbled and in gratitude for the blessings I get, having treated patients from mild body aches and pains to severe depression, hormonal imbalance, pregnancy to even assisting in the delivery of a baby. Each day at the clinic is a challenge and each night a reason to thank God for the opportunity that he gives me to serve mankind in my own little way.
IWH: How has your professional journey been so far? Pros, cons etc?
Dipal Parikh: My journey from hospitality to healthcare support services to natural healthcare has been amazing. Don’t want to change a single day.
Hospitality is full of glamour and class where I got to see people in their finest best Avatar, the same people were vulnerable, sad, anxious for their own health or that of their loved ones similar to how any human being would feel and react.There has been learning only, no cons as I how I would like to put. My initial meetings with the Infection control department at the Lilavati Hospital was an eye opener.
While there are many reputed institutes teaching Housekeeping for the Hospitality Industry, there is non for the healthcare industry. The difference is vast, like we want to use fresh flowers in a Hotel, they are a Big No in the Hospital. Aesthetics v/s hygiene, cleanliness v/s infection control, the list is endless.
The SOP to clean a standard or a deluxe room in any hotel remains the same but the SOP for a patient room, ICU, NICU,OT, ICCU or Renal ICU all vary. We need a system and trained staff for garbage disposal in a hospital. Extensive training in soft skills is a must in a Hotel, but for a hospital staff he needs to learn Cleaning procedure of the area he is allotted along with garbage disposal method, infection control protocol and personal care gears and methods to be used which are at times area pacific.
The training of any staff who joins a hospital in which ever capacity starts with half a day training on training ‘how to wash hands?’ SOP, hygiene and self-care.
The Hospitality institutes should be sensationalized that there is tremendous scope to grow in the healthcare industry as well. May be a similar course like AHMA should be introduced for Healthcare Hospitality. I leave that as a thought for you dear Laxmi.
IWH: Who has been your mentor or a role model? In what way has that person helped you?
Dipal Parikh: Every person I came in touch with or observed during my journey was my teacher or role model, the college gives you book knowledge and the certificate to get a job, but the room boy is my teacher, like Prem Singh at The Taj taught me to make bed within 3 minutes, and how carrying all the amenities in a departure room will not only save time but also ensure we do not forget a thing, then the florist, the horticulturist, the infection control nurse or the Garbage Disposal Inspector from MPCB have all been my gurus. The biggest Mentor has been the Mortuary staff who is sad with every Body they care for, how precious life is. As a Bowen Therapist my mentor and guide are Farida Irani, Freny Palia and Tejal Bhagat. They have taught me to be humble and in gratitude of all the good that happens to you.
While the others helped me grow professionally, after practicing Bowtech I have grown as a Human Being due to the talks and experiences of my patients. Accepting the fact ‘That no one is above the law of nature’ has been the Guru Mantra since I entered the Healthcare Industry.
IWH: What have been the high points of your career? Highlight at least 3.
Dipal Parikh: There were many high points, will mention thesethree:-
When I became the EHK at The Shalimar Hotel, my job profile was by and large the same as that at The Taj Mahal. The first HOD meeting was a high point, when finances, strategies, events, food festivals started being discussed, I felt lost. It was then that the whole responsibility of this post and position dawned upon me. Talking to other heads gave me the insight that though it is good to do every thing on your own, delegation of job and responsibility is necessary for personal, staff and department growth.
The process of making an SOP was extremely exhaustive. No two people from the department were on the same page as to how a particular area is cleaned. I made every supervisor write down about the cleaning procedure of an ICU cubicle. Then the same thing was written by the 3 permanent staff also. Everyone had their own version. Then we went to the floor, made them do it practically, took swab tests. Made changes according to the test results. The stroke of cleaning had to be from top to bottom only. This process was repeated in each and every area along with the supervisors and staff. There came a time when the supervisors were fed-up and I too wanted to quit, that’s when a young room attendant gave me the cleaning procedure of his area and very proudly said, ‘ same will be followed in all three shifts, I have taught the others too, don’t send temporary staff in my area on our holidays, we will train one more person, we four will take care of my area, or do overtime also’. This was the turning point for me, we made teams of ward staff and the training became fun, manageable and easy to impart. So proud to know that these boys are working as Housekeeping Executives today, while the supervisors have become Head of Departments.
As a Bowtech Practitioner, every patient was a challenge, but treating a young boy in his twenties who was suffering from severe depression was a turning point in my career as a therapist. Till then I would treat patients as per the rule book. With him the sessions were totally different. Usually the patient would tell their problems or areas of concern and I would treat them accordingly, but he said nothing, when I asked, he did not like it. I started the session with faith in the therapy praying constantly. Few moves later he got off the bed and started talking, and Ihad a marathon listening session. Listened to him for almost 45 minutes. Before leaving, confirmed his appointment for the next week, opened the door, came back to me and hugged me. That was the first time in 3 months that his mother had seen him smile. His behavior was an eye opener. It was clear that sometimes only listening is the therapy. It taught me to be patient with everyone.
IWH: What challenges have you faced as a woman in the industry? How did you deal with them?
Dipal Parikh: This is one of those industries where your gender does not matter, agree to work for 24 hours and you are set. But as a woman is that really possible? While all the male colleagues agreed to travel, that was a major set back for me. When I was working for a chain of restaurants in the capacity of HOD HK in their corporate HQ, while I too worked for 10 to 12 hours daily from 9 am to 9 pm, it was not enough, for this business starts from lunch time and ends post dinner. The first time in my career I quit within 6 months and the chain never hired a lady in this position ever.
In the Healthcare industry we as women have an advantage, we are approachable, can empathize with the patient relatives and the job timings are best. Also, I was more cautious about health hazards that any of my staff faced. Little things like wearing PPE or the cautions to be taken while in the Radiology department etc. As a trainer giving personal life examples comes naturally and we can give marathon talks as well. The Annual Day celebrations can not be organized without us. And all the staff whether from the all dominating Kitchen or F&B just love us.
IWH: If there was anything that you could change about your life or career what would that be?
Dipal Parikh: I have said it earlier also I loved this twist and turns in my career, don’t want to change anything. When I read all the interviews in IWH, I wished the career had been more elongated, could have been more instrumental in improving HK in Healthcare in a better manner.
IWH: What do you think of IWH?
Dipal Parikh: Kudos to your thinking Laxmi, I simply loved reading about the stalwarts of the industry like Ms. Shirin Batliwala, Ms. Thangam Philip, Ms. Priya Paul and many more. This platform that you made, gives us a sense of belongingness even after quitting the industry. By sharing life experiences of fellow beings in the same profession, sailing in the same boat, this platform tells us how can I react to the same situation in a better or different way.
IWH: Your advice to the young professionals and students.
Dipal Parikh: Hard work everyone does, clear your vision, work smart. Your simplicity, dedication and being true to your choice of field will take you places and help you succeed. Success is not measured by the post you hold but the Satisfaction you get at the end of each day. Thrive to succeed daily.
IWH: Anything else you wish to share with our readers?
Dipal Parikh: Since Bowtech, the Bowen therapy that I practice is not so know, I would just like all the lovely people in our group to find time to go through the website and also experience the therapy for a stress-free living without medicines. www.bowentherapyindia.com
I am eager to give presentations at any level so that maximum people can benefit from this noninvasive technique. More power to women, more power to IWH.
What a delightful conversation we had with Ms. Parikh, we take with us her diehard attitude and the will power to create ‘something great’ from whatever is thrown at us – creating castles from the pebbles!