The post marks the completion of the first two weeks at Khoj- days abuzz with getting to know the place and one another, all in the midst of tons of activity, talks and stating the obvious- the omnipresent food!
Along with the smells of Mona’s ‘rawsome’ cooking wafting in the air, the other buzzword that has been doing the rounds is ‘mindfulness’ – in the way we consume, the way we connect to what we consume and subsequently the way we live. Kudos to Mona for bringing the word, in all of its essence and power, to our attention!
There’s much to write home about in terms of our increasing understanding of food and ecology as subjects of investigation. As the days breeze past, the many facets get exposed, each more provocative than the other. Days spent talking about the politics of food in which it continues to be inextricably embroiled; its role as a medium of artistic discourse, notions of raw, cooked and organic, our long-standing relationships with eating, the mind-body connect to what we consume, the works, has served as excellent food for thought! What we had started with has fluidly evolved to a newer chain of thought. And will continue to do so, as we probe and begin to create (soon enough!).
The walk through the alleyways and galis of Old Delhi was revelatory in its showcase of the sheer variety of commodities and objects up for grabs. We walked wide-eyed, feasting on the sights and sounds of the historic streets, occasionally breaking for the customary chole bhature, paan and legendary Daulat ki chat. That is a hub for delicious street food, and unearths snippets of history at every nook and cranny has long since been established. What was different about the visit this time was that it opened our eyes to the place as a vast storehouse of materials and resources, especially in the current context of the residency, which could be of ample use during production.
The Khirki festival was another experience of sorts- a lovely afternoon spent with people, some known to each other, others not, but who got together in the spirit of camaraderie and celebration of the multi-cultural milieu that constitutes Khirki. The energies all around the venue were vibrant and contagious, to say the least!
The Khoj team geared up under the direction of an ill but stoic Leaonne and an excited Mona to make momos and serve a salad tossed with much love! The salad was a blockbuster hit with the crowds eager to sample some healthy food even as they were faced with the choice of creamy cupcakes and meaty bakes! Some of them were seen approaching with caution, but warmed up to Mona’s welcoming smiles and eventually the flavourful and wholesome salads, only to ask for more! Simultaneously the momo act was in full swing! Guided by Lekmon and Leonne, we got down to fixing momos of myriad shapes, sizes, and contours, getting less sloppy and more efficient with time! As the afternoon quickly turned to evening, more and more people actively poured in, curious and enthusiastic to exhibit their momo- making skills! The stall initially intended as a serving counter had turned into a participatory DIY ‘learn as you go’ space where conversations were flowing just as fluidly as the flour was being knead and the dumplings crafted.
A day well spent indeed!
To sum up, as we step into the third week, nearly midway, it’s a tad bit unnerving that the work is nowhere close to completion! Ahem! But what’s promising are these daily experiences, flavours, interactions and exchanges at Khoj that will all, in the end, collectively pour into the brew that we shall call the open day.