One More Byte Please


“A journey full of determination and willpower is just as empowering as getting to the goal itself.”

Tanay Shah’s journey is filled completely with unusual determination and willpower, his thoughts are expressed best in the delicacies he churns out rather than the words he does not speak. Owner of a small home catering business, called 1MB (One More Byte), Tanay has grown by leaps & bounds, thanks to his passion for cooking. The support he receives from family & friends is heartening.


Tanay, who is twenty-three, is the oldest amongst his siblings. Born chubby & fair, he spent his early years in Israel. With his skin color and long brown hair up to his nape, he was often mistaken to be a foreigner. As he grew and remained unaffected by the happenings around him, his parents did not realize the underlying conditions, but thought him to be an easy-going child. They noticed that he was hyperactive, but the doctors convinced them that those were the basic traits of toddler boys.

Upon relocation to India, when he was unable to adjust well in his Nursery school, everyone assumed it to be a language barrier. With repeated incidents when Tanay did not respond to noises around him, they decided to get his hearing tests done. He was further evaluated for his medical condition and his parents were shocked with his diagnosis, PDD NOS, (Pervasive Development Disorders- not otherwise specified).

They were unable to cope with the news, and were recommended speech therapy and occupational therapy for him. They researched extensively on the internet, but the solutions were limited. Apart from his diagnosis, they had to deal with the trauma the family and extended families were going through. Prayers, healings, and superstitions took over his beloved grandparents. Regular visits to astrologers and saints could not reverse his diagnosis. But his parents had undeterred faith in medical sciences. Gradually when they came to terms with it, they began to get support from the near & dear ones in every way possible.

At the time, Aanal, Tanay’s mother was expecting her second child. She began living with the fear that the yet-to-be born could also have a similar diagnosis. Their world seemed to have fallen apart in a year’s time. They completely stopped socializing and their life revolved around Tanay, research work and his various therapies. Gradually, Tanay started speaking in monosyllables but fluency in speech never came. Their biggest challenge as parents was to keep holding onto him when they stepped out, otherwise he would just disappear.

Food is something that can solve many problems. Being a foodie, Tanay did not seem to relish simple homemade food. He loved everything fancy, spicy and tangy. He had some sensory issues which gradually got sorted with regular occupational therapy but remained sensitive to texture. Another thing that he showed keen interest in was photographs and pictures. He spent hours flipping pages of photo albums and naming people or things in the pictures. A typical boy, he loved anything to do with cars, roads, mountains endlessly. The parents encashed upon this interest. They did a lot of sight reading with him and made use of Pecs in speech therapy sessions. Though there were sincere efforts, they did not find much progress in Tanay. They had reached a plateau. They sought support from a family with similar challenges, and this was the turning point in Tanay’s life.

The parents decided to visit the US to learn and understand the program called DAN (Defeat Autism Now). This was not approved medically, herein they followed many different diets and a lot of biomedical supplementations which was mostly against normal medicine practice. It showed results! There were so many success stories. Aanal attended the seminar with much interest and decided to take the plunge. Along with an extremely strict GFCF diet (gluten free & Casein free), 10-12 different supplements in a day and strict ABA therapy (Applied behavioral analysis), they set off on a new journey. Every summer they were in the US, following up with the doctors in DAN and his therapies. Fortunately, her brother who lived there came to her rescue. Financially, it was depleting but they did not mind the sacrifice seeing the positive difference it brought about in Tanay.

Back in India, Tanay’s diet had to be completely changed as there were not too many vegan and gluten free options two decades back. He resisted the diet food offered to him, it was tough, but they did not give up. Gradually, Tanay got used to the life-changing diet and the results were truly inspiring. This motivated his parents to continue this path and eventually, they saw him making eye contact, responding to his name and they also noticed overall calmness in him. Their persistent hard work was paying off.

Tanay never had interest in cartoons or movies like kids his age. His all-time favorite was Jungle book which he watched every time. Then his interest switched to cookery shows and he watched Sanjeev Kapoor’s Khana Khazana. To Aanal’s surprise, Tanay was deeply engrossed, and he watched the same episode repeatedly. This I guess was his first step towards taking up cooking seriously.

When Tanay was twelve, they relocated to Dubai with the hope of finding better opportunities for him. Gradually they weaned him off his special diet under the supervision of the doctors, and stopped all supplements and medications. Tanay joined Baseball, and started playing sports, swimming and other activities which kept him busy and tired him out. Things only got better from here and his sleep too improved.

Being aware of his interest and expertise in cooking, they got Tanay to do some cooking classes at a well-known hotel at the Palm in Dubai. Unfortunately, this was around the same time that the world saw the pandemic Covid. But Aanal continued to work with him at home, trying new recipes, enhancing the finishing of a dish. They used these adversities as opportunities. Since everyone was stuck in their homes, Romil, Tanay’s dad, began exploring in the kitchen and churned out some interesting dishes along with Tanay & Aanal. Romil captured the same in his camera and shared it with a few friends who were left awestruck and began placing orders for the same.


Their dishes became quite popular, and word spread like wildfire. Soon they were flooded with calls and messages and the orders just kept increasing. Since Tanay was working from within the comfort of his home and kitchen, they decided to adopt a professional approach. For the next two years, every Saturday, they sent out meals to about 20 to 30 families. Tanay would help with cutting, grating, packing, delivering, everything. It was a wonderful experience for them as a family which became the genesis of their home catering business, called 1MB (One More Byte) with the support and encouragement from Romil. Today, Tanay can cook many dishes independently, and can surely be a chef’s assistant. With a decent understanding of condiments, he can adjust the spice levels and flavors in a dish as desired.

Aanal knows this is not the perfect scenario but also not the end of the road. They are content as a family as they stand at the threshold of a bigger milestone for him. There are newer challenges each day, he understands basic instructions better but then there are bad days when he is disturbed, especially when routines change abruptly, or a plan gets cancelled. As a family, they have learnt to deal with his mood swings and calm him down. They have come a long way and are reasonably content with the milestones they have managed to achieve.

Today, Tanay is engaged in more activities than most adults his age. He is multi-faceted as he swims, regularly pursues athletics, fitness, sailing, surfing, and takes part in stage shows, where he displays live painting, assists in food orders, and confidently walks the ramp in Fashion shows across Dubai. The pride of the family, Tanay is a perfectionist who just needs an opportunity to prove himself.

Nisha Tandon

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  1. Beautiful article! Motivational and Inspiring. An ode to our handsome young man, Tanay!! He has grown from strength to strength and is accomplished and independent! Tanay, cannot wait to see you (and be a part of) managing and whipping up yummies for your own independent space!! Restaurant? Cafe? What is in the cards?

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