Kitchen Katha

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About the Play:

Welcome to the kitchen of Chand Kaur as granddaughter Tara relates a deliciously intimate tale of love that defies societal norms. Tara, the granddaughter of Chand Kaur, unravels the story of her grandmother for the benefit of ‘The Writer’ who is in search of a story. Chand Kaur was so sensitive to onions from the time she was in her mother’s womb, that she was born in a great tide of tears on the kitchen floor. Condemned to look after her tyrannical aunt, Chand Kaur finds her destiny in the kitchen.

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When her aunt forces her true love, Mangai, to marry her own daughter, Chand Kaur learns to sustain and nurture their love with her cooking. This is a culinary romance where food, and images of food, are used as metaphors of life and love. Told in a story-telling format, the play unfolds through the garden of memory; where varied smells and tastes lead to an association that evoke thoughts and feelings of sensuality, pain, happiness and rejection – through the medium of food. Written by Surjit Patar, the material for the play is based on Laura Esquivel’s Like Water for Chocolate and Isabel Allende’s Aphrodite. The food that is cooked and served: Pakoras (fried vegetable fritters), roti (unleavened bread), with chutney, jalebis (pretzels dipped in oodles of sweetness) and popcorn.

Director’s Note:

My favorite haunt has always been the vegetable mundi (market). The array of colours, textures, and the shape and feel of different vegetables has always fascinated my tactile and olfactory sensibility. The chopping, cutting and cooking of vegetables has always played a therapeutic role as it involves discipline, precision and imagination. My early childhood had me spending a lot of time cooking in our family gurdwara’s langar. The flying atta, the hundreds of little dough balls, the sound of hands while making chappatis, the slapping of the rotis on the tawa bound by the spirit of community eating and sharing – the vegetable world conjures up images in my mind and heart that seem to connect with my larger world. A papaya being cut into equal halves seems to suggest the whole birth of man. The aniseeds of life. The sensuality of the aubergine. The sense of touch while kneading dough – the magic of transformation of grain into atta (dough) into a hot chappati – nurtures the spirit and renews our sense of life by sweeping away with one stroke the fatigue of all the disappointments gathered along the road of life. This breaking of bread, this sharing of food, bonds and connects us to the earth from where it is produced.

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