By Anna Jordan

From a rejected student visa to Hungary from India, Nithin Bansilal’s life demonstrates that perseverance and positivity are critical when you are relentlessly pursuing your dreams. Nithin, a determined man I met in Hungary this summer, carries his dream of opening an Indian restaurant with him wherever he goes.

In 1999, Nithin first moved to Tuscaloosa, Alabama, for three years to go to school. Following graduation, Nithin was offered a scholarship to attend the University of Wisconsin, but his visa expired. When he applied for an extension, he was rejected.

“[The embassy staffer] faced me and said, ‘no we can’t give you a student visa because one, you’re single,’ two, she said she can read me and that tells her that I won’t come back to India again,” he said.

Nithin applied again three months later only to be turned down again by the same woman.

“That’s the time I said OK, bye-bye, U.S., I love my country,” said Nithin and he returned to India.

In India, he ran his own distribution business until 2016, when he relinquished it to his younger brother.

“In 2016, I thought ‘OK let me do something that will satisfy me,'” said Nithin. “Despite putting in 11-12 hours, seven days a week, I was not happy at all with what I was doing. So, I said ‘let’s do something which will excite me.’”

Sixteen years after returning to India, he left again. New obstacles surfaced for the first time in Frankfurt, Germany, after finances didn’t come together and his cooks weren’t accepted to work in Germany. So, he packed up his life and his dream, and he brought them to Budapest.

In Budapest, Nithin’s proposal for an Indian restaurant was rejected because he couldn’t get permission to open a hot kitchen in his location. So, he opened a Salad Box franchise.

“Healthy foods are the new way of eating habits people are going to get accustomed to,” he said. “I actually like the concept. Fresh food but in a fast way. Everything is ready, you just have to serve the guest. But, it takes a lot of work behind the scenes.”

His day starts at 6 a.m. when he wakes up and ends around 11 p.m. when he gets to go home. During the day, his time is committed to bettering his restaurant. He buys fresh produce, prepares the homemade juices, dressings, desserts and more.

His passion and hard work translate to the way he serves his customers. In Hungary, good, friendly customer service is rare. Nithin runs his restaurant differently. An immediate warmth is felt when you walk through the door — when you are looked at with a smile and generously served.

“It all depends on how you treat a guest,” he said. “How you passionately make a salad for him is what matters. No matter what, we try to smile with each guest — no matter what our problems are, no matter what we’re going through. Having a smile on your face when you’re with a guest means a lot.”

His dream of opening his long-awaited Indian restaurant is becoming a reality as he rebuilds the basement of Salad Box to house The Royal Indian Kitchen — which he has conceptualized in full, from wall color to menu.

“India has 5 million-plus different kinds of food. You name it, you have it. I want to give people things which are so very healthy, so very delicious — tasty. I want to give them something different. You give someone an authentic Indian dish, they will love it, they will remember it for life.”