Reading : Travel through South Indian Kitchens


Drawings  can be neutral or can be supported by a narrative or can be the narrative itself. I came across book this wonderful book from Tara Books (look at this publisher for more amazing books). This book falls under the third format. The books falls under all the three categories : travel, cooking and architecture.

The author of the book Nao Satio travels around the south Indian kitchens and captures its atmosphere in these pages. She is an architect, so the emphasis on the drawing. But she transforms the usual approach. She mixes text, drawing, photos. The text is of her experience in the kitchen and being in the house with the person cooking. It has also the recipe of the dish which was made during her visit. The photos are sort of a collage of the event of cooking. Then these beautiful drawings capture the mood of the place.  Like the plan below captures  idiosyncracies : smells,monkey,drying,etc.  The drawings more than as a means to represent space transforms as a lens to observe place and its making. The author notes that in India the activities of the kitchen is not contained only within the kitchen but spills over to the other part of the house too. Like cutting vegetable in the living room, drying grains in the balcony, fridge kept in the corridor. So the attempt is to capture this shifting boundary of the kitchen. In her own words ” the description explores the way in which a particular space influences what we do – at the same time, it created by how people use it.. I’ve tried to capture the air i breathed during that time, but through a particular lens : the kitchen” . This way of approaching through a focussed ‘lens’ is also what attracted me towards this book. This format allows to make an oblique enquiry to the study from a simple starting point. It can be repeated, and the results will be different and varying. I could just the use same ‘lens’ if i visit Japan. It will bring a focussed perspective to look at any culture.

I am amazed on how architecture is treated as the background of life (an urgent and  much needed reminder). The book uses the drawings as an integral part of the narrative. Almost tactile like the cover has the feel and texture of a banana leaf!

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