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I’m A Pastry Baker Who Worked In SG For Better Work-Life Balance. But I Returned To M’sia As It’s My Home

She defied scoliosis to pursue her passion in baking.
Karishma Raj’s journey is nothing short of inspiring, blending ambition with a hearty dose of realism.

Born and raised in Malaysia, the 28-year-old lass faced a challenging start due to scoliosis, a condition that made everyday tasks difficult. 

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But Karishma refused to let it hold her back. Instead, she focused on her passion for baking, dreaming of becoming a pastry chef despite the obstacles in her path.

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Karishma raj
Photo provided to WeirdKaya

Diagnosis with Scoliosis

At just 14 years old, Karishma’s life took an unexpected turn when she received a diagnosis that would change her life forever. Adolescence Idiopathic Scoliosis – a condition where the spine abnormally curves sideways.

“It was hard for my mother to believe at first. She thought I was just simply complaining about my back pain until the doctors confirmed it,” Karishma recalled.

She faced her condition head-on, undergoing major surgery while still in high school. The road to recovery was long and arduous, but Karishma’s resilience shone through as she refused to let her condition define her.

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Msian woman receiving treatment at hospital
Photo provided to WeirdKaya

Found love in baking

When she was young, she used to watch many baking shows on TV, which inspired her to bake cakes for her family.

Msian woman decorating cake
Photo provided to WeirdKaya

“When I had to decide on my future path, considering my love for both arts and baking, I chose the food and beverage (F&B) line,” she said.

“I thought, by being a baker, I could do baking and art at the same time,” Karishma said during the interview.

Opting for this path was the best choice as it allowed her to blend both of her passions.

The first step into the baking world

After completing her course and graduating, Karishma worked as a baker at several establishments before moving to Singapore.

Msian chef graduates standing at teh kitchen
Photo provided to WeirdKaya

As she delved deeper into the baking world, she learned a lot about how things really work. However, Karishma couldn’t ignore the subtle pressure she felt at her working place.

“It’s not outright bullying, but more like being underestimated simply because we’re women,” she remarked, highlighting the physical demands of the job, particularly the need for strength to handle heavy loads.

Msian girl cutting bread
Photo provided to WeirdKaya

Despite being a petite woman, Karishma faced judgment from her colleagues solely based on her gender and appearance. However, she chose to brush off these perceptions, refusing to let them affect her confidence or passion for her craft.

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A call for better opportunity

One day, she scrolled through her college’s alumni page and saw something exciting that they needed bakers in Singapore. Karishma didn’t hesitate. She applied right away, feeling like this could be her big break.

Things moved fast after that. She aced the interviews and got the job offer. Without waiting, she quit her job in Malaysia and booked a flight to Singapore – all in just a month.

In addition to baking pastries, Karishma also served as an instructor in Singapore, leading baking classes for both children and adults.

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Children showing their pikachu cake they did with the guidance of baker
Photo provided to WeirdKaya

Stuck in SG for 2 years

But life in Singapore wasn’t without its challenges, especially when the COVID-19 pandemic struck. It happened just a few days after she entered Singapore.

Msian gilr at singapore
Photo provided to WeirdKaya

Border closures and travel restrictions left Karishma stranded in a foreign land, far from her loved ones in Malaysia.

It was a difficult time, but she found solace in the kindness of her ex-boyfriend and his family, who stood by her side and provided the support she needed during those uncertain times.

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‘I had a better work-life balance in SG’

Reflecting on her experience, Karishma emphasised the significant difference in work-life balance between Malaysia and Singapore. In Malaysia, she found herself toiling long hours without respite, struggling to find time for herself amidst the demands of her job.

Msian chefs eating at store room
Photo provided to WeirdKaya

However, in Singapore, the situation was markedly different.

“In Singapore, I had a better work-life balance compared to what I experienced in Malaysia,” Karishma explained. “In Malaysia, I had to work long hours without rest, but in Singapore, it’s the opposite.”

In Malaysia, Karishma had to travel four hours every day from her home to the bakery where she worked. It was a long and tiring journey that took up a lot of her time and energy.

But when she moved to Singapore, things got much easier. Her new home was just a short walk away from her workplace.

The improved balance between work and personal life allowed her to indulge in leisure activities and spend quality time with friends, a luxury she rarely had in Malaysia.

Msian gril before bungee jumping
Photo provided to WeirdKaya

Chose to return home

After finding success in Singapore, Karishma felt a tug at her heartstrings, yearning for the familiarity of home. Despite three years of thriving abroad, she made a bold choice – to return to Malaysia and care for her mother.

Msian girl woth her mother on a moving boat
Photo provided to WeirdKaya

Leaving behind her job and the comforts of Singapore wasn’t easy, but family always came first for Karishma.

‘I have no regret’

Looking back on her almost 3 years journey, Karishma has no regrets. Currently, she is working at a bakery at Petaling Jaya as a chef de partie.

Though she may not earn as much as she did in Singapore, she finds happiness and fulfillment in her work, creating pastries and cakes that bring joy to others.

“I don’t have anything to complain about regarding my work hours and salary because I truly love my job,” Karishma affirmed.

For her, success isn’t just about money – it’s all about continuing her passion and learning new things in the world of pastries.

Equally important is her commitment to being there for her loved ones when they need her most.

Nothing can stop her

Karishma’s story is a reminder that with determination and perseverance, anything is possible. Despite the challenges she faced, she never gave up on her dreams.

Gilr showing a desert that she made at a culinary class
Photo provided to WeirdKaya

Today, she serves as an inspiration to others, showing that with hard work and a positive attitude, obstacles can be overcome, and dreams can be achieved, no matter where life takes you.

Exclusive Story by WeirdKaya – Reproduction requires proper crediting and backlink to us. Kindly acknowledge the efforts of our editors in sourcing and conducting interviews.


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