Mina Banstala works behind the cash register at the Indian grocery on 22nd St. Photo by Eleni Balakrishnan

Mina Banstala and her husband are employees at Indian Spices and Groceries on 22nd Street. Mina just started 15 days ago after getting her youngest child in school, but her husband has been working there for years. 

“He applied for [a visa] for us, and then I came here with my first kid,” Banstala said. She and her husband were apart for three years before she and her now-9-year-old could come to the United States. Once they settled in San Francisco, Mina had a second child, who is now three. 

“I like to decorate and organize here,” Banstala says, pointing to hundreds of imported spices arranged on the shelves of the small store. So far, she says living and working in the Mission is “not bad.” She likes meeting her customers, most of whom are Indian. 

“No friends, only customers,” Banstala laughs. As of yet, there hasn’t been enough time for friendship, as she’s had her hands full with her two children at home for the past year. 

Banstala immigrated to the U.S. from Pokhara, Nepal, the second biggest city in the country, and popular for its access to the Himalayan mountains. Even back home, she never got around to visiting the mountains in her backyard. 

In Pokhara, Banstala worked as a manager of a bank. “Now, I’m a housewife, housewife, housewife,” she says, even though she’s newly employed at the grocery. In her eyes, her primary occupation is still caring for the kids. 

Though there were undoubtedly difficult times during the process of having her family separated and immigrating to San Francisco, Banstala is happy with the outcome, and doesn’t want to dwell on any hardships. “We struggled, but it is good,” she says. 

In her free time, she takes her kids to the neighborhood park, where they like to play tag. 

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REPORTER. Eleni is our reporter focused on policing in San Francisco. She first moved to the city on a whim over eight years ago, and the Mission has become her home. Follow her on Twitter @miss_elenius.

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