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Delivery from Hyderabad House: Love, family and resilience

To describe it as just a restaurant would be a great disservice to my family’s history in Australia

Mum describes ‘Hyderabad House’ as “Dad’s dream”, and I couldn’t agree more. But when I ask Dad what our restaurant means to him, he simply says, “I’ve always wanted to be independent.” Much of my childhood and its stories revolve around my time at, and the blessings received from ‘Hyderabad House’. 

‘Hyderabad House’, as Dad maintains, “filled a gap in the market” because that’s what a good business does. So when COVID-19 hit in March 2020, the uncertainty and the fear of not knowing whether the family business would survive the next however many years of isolation, lockdown and the mass spread of disease was daunting.  

We opened our doors in Harris Park, NSW, in March 2007. I had started Year 2, and my younger brother, who was five at the time, had only just begun kindergarten. Between 2007 and today, my family has called three different buildings ‘Hyderabad House’. 

To describe ‘Hyderabad House’ as just a restaurant would be a great disservice to its place in my family’s history in Australia. For my father, ‘Hyderabad House’ (or, as my father lovingly refers to it, ‘HH’) is his heart and soul, a dream of owning a business come to life. For my mother, it is in equal parts a source of trial but also a place where she spends time cultivating meaningful relationships with my younger sister and brother. 

Our first place was 21 Hassall Street, Harris Park. From 2007 to 2014, ‘Hyderabad House’ was a double-storey off-white brick building.  We had our own parking space, and plenty was available in the opposite car park (this was a time before Parramatta became the busy CBD it is now). 

Our second spot was 17-19 Hassall Street, Harris Park - we literally just moved one building down. This time, ‘Hyderabad House’ was an elongated space with walls lined with pretty gold wallpaper. The interior blended dull gold, deep maroon and bark brown. We were there from 2014 to 2019. 

Now ‘Hyderabad House’ is a palace of white gold and petite chandeliers hanging from its ceiling on 73 Wigram Street, Harris Park. Over the past 15 years, I have seen my Dad work tirelessly inventing new items for the Hyderabadi experience and branching out into food processing. If someone were to ask me, “How many kids does your father have?” I think ‘four’ would be the most appropriate answer. But his success would not be possible without the equal dedication shown by my mother. Like most nuclear families that have migrated from the Global South, Mum stayed home and raised us, kept the house clean and always had a hot plate of khichri or biryani or pulao ready when the four of us bundled in through the door. 


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Having a hospitality business as your only and main source of family income is a double-edged sword. One thing you learn growing up in a family business is that stress is part of the game. If you want to taste the sweetness of a successful business, you must be prepared to endure the rotten stench of failed ideas and bad decisions. But nothing could have prepared us for COVID-19. 

The most profound impact we felt was the shortage of service staff, who were just as scared as we were of contracting COVID. Most people underestimate how crucial hospitality service staff are - they are the crux of ensuring a smooth and high-quality working environment. From the moment someone places an order, the order, ingredients for the food, and the food itself pass through multiple pairs of hands. Having the luxury of an efficient system pulled from beneath us meant that Dad went from being the owner of ‘Hyderabad House’ to being its owner, service staff, cook and delivery driver. Mum and Dad both explain that transition as being “one of the most difficult times in their life”. Even though we weren’t servicing people in person (which should have meant reduced work and effort), Dad’s and Mum’s responsibilities of ensuring not only the survival of their business but also the comfort of their family increased tenfold. 

My younger sister and brother described the impact of COVID as “a constant mental stress of not knowing what was happening next and what would we do if one of us got COVID”. Seeing the worry etched into the frown lines on Dad’s face while being acutely aware that he and Mum were only getting older with no end to this pandemic made for a tense cohabitation during the lockdown. Every single member of the Ali family longed for a bustling restaurant whose high ceilings echoed the clanking of silverware and blanched at the silence that suffocated its walls from 2020-2021. 

So when we religiously sat down to watch the daily 11 am news update and saw residents of Bondi and the eastern suburbs milling about happily without any adherence to COVID safety rules, it felt like someone had spat in our faces. The lack of care shown by the eastern suburbs and the racial profiling employed by the NSW government towards Western Sydney meant that no matter how hard my parents worked to maintain COVID safety regulations, no matter how hard they sanitised ‘Hyderabad House’ and no matter how strictly everyone wore their face masks and kept a distance of 1.5 metres, our restaurant was going to remain empty. Ultimately, the burden of curbing the spread of COVID landed on Western Sydney. This meant that we had to take out more loans to ensure food was on the table, the bills were paid, and we could adequately look after the small number of remaining ‘Hyderabad House’ staff. 

But I’m proud to say and am extremely grateful to Allah that ‘Hyderabad House’ is still standing. While I don’t think my family is alone when we say that there is now a small voice that lives in the back of our minds and questions whether we’d survive another round of lockdown and isolation, my parents do acknowledge that there is always some light in moments of darkness. Mum says, “The restaurant was empty, and it hurt, but our home was full, and it made everything a little better.” Her favourite thing about the COVID lockdown was that Dad came home a little earlier than usual. Outside of COVID-19, Dad typically came home after running the restaurant no earlier than 11.30 pm, but during the lockdown, he was home by 9.30 pm, which meant a considerable increase in family time. 

Another great thing to come out of lockdown was a reminder for Dad: his family was there for him to lean on, and we could all take turns being the Superman of Ali-Ville.  The staff shortage was exhausting and nerve-wracking for ‘Hyderabad House’, but it also allowed my siblings and Mum to learn the business. Mum had spent her 30s and early 40s making sure everything was running smoothly in the background so my Dad could succeed as a businessman. And while this dynamic had worked for my parents since 2007, COVID-19 pushed them to utilise ‘Hyderabad House’ as a learning space and a reminder about how well they work together and complement each other. 

I have grown up hearing about the resilience of South Asian families. I saw that resilience in all its might as Mum and Dad struggled and succeeded in not only caring for their business and their family but coming out stronger than we were before 2020.

Editor-at-large: Dilpreet Kaur Taggar

Co-Editor: Yohaan Prem Sharma

Graphic Designer: Jess Harwood

'Coping with COVID' is a multimedia series funded by the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing. Through this project, we aim to highlight the mental, physical, social and financial recovery of South Asians in Australia post-lockdowns. Follow the hashtag #CopingWithCOVID below for more.

About the author

Lina Ali is a Muslim Indian-Australian emerging writer from Parramatta. Lina was a Highly Commended recipient of the 2022 All About Women of Colour Mentorship Program. Her short story Shaking Hands Suffocate was published on the Sydney Opera House Website. Lina also received an internship to work as an SBS Diversity and Inclusion Research Assistant and as a Voices writer through the 2022 Createability Internship program,



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