Monday, 19 July 2021

Table Talk with Krish Ashok


 

Table Talk with Krish Ashok
Date: Jul 25, 2021
Time: 21:00 IST

I've known Ashok as a popular personality on Twitter, and as a musician, regularly putting out his compositions (he plays multiple instruments) for his followers. Along the way, I discovered he's also an artist, and last year we found out he is also an author (his book, Masala Lab, came out late last year, to popular acclaim). All this, mind you, while holding down a very demanding day job and cooking for his family.

We'll talk about these multiple facets of him, with an attempt every little while to stay on topic (I am easily sidetracked, and so, with Table Talk, I cannily call this a feature, not a bug) and chat about food and science and the book.  We'll chat for around a couple of hours, which includes time for questions from the audience.

You can buy Masala Lab here, and read Ashok's column at Mint here.

Giving back

Table Talk will stay free to attend and free to listen to or watch later, for as long as I can afford to keep it that way. But we would like to use our privilege to help others, so we’re asking our guests to choose a cause. Ashok has chosen Railway Children, a non-profit organisation under Section 8 of The Companies Act, which works to ‘create and enable sustainable changes in the lives of children living on the streets.’ If you would like to say thank you for this session, and if you can afford to, please donate at their donation page.

Attending

You will need to go to the Zoom link and register with a valid email address, after which you will get the link to join the event.

To get notifications of new episodes and links to past episodes, please subscribe to:
- this Google Group: https://groups.google.com/d/forum/ttandfps
- and / or this Telegram Channel: https://t.me/TTandFPS

Thursday, 8 July 2021

Poetry & me


Poetry & me is an online talk show, a web series, if you will. It is deep, thoughtful conversations with practising poets about their relationship with poetry, interspersed with readings from their work and time set aside for audience questions. These conversations will later be archived online as a free public resource.

This is part of a longer project I’ve been planning towards for years — life kept getting in the way — which seeks to create a large archive of poetry in India. I can do a substantial chunk of it now via Zoom, because generous friends who wish to remain anonymous paid for a Zoom webinar package, which lets me do these as events with audiences.

I plan to start this with poets writing in English, for no other reason that that it’s the only language I’m competent in. Once I have a body of work to show, I hope to raise some funds to bring in other people who can join me and conduct interviews in other Indian languages.

Poetry & me will not be on a fixed schedule (i.e., not a fixed day of the week or time of day) because the people I want to talk to have different time tables and schedules. If you’d like to attend the recordings, I’ll be posting updates on my social media (links alongside), and, easier for you, via this Google Group and this Telegram Channel. Please subscribe to one of both of them. These will be one-way, i.e., only I can post to them, and I will only post to let subscribers know when a session is happening — you’ll get at least a couple of days notice — and when recordings are available online.

Folks who have agreed to be interviewed (so far) include: Aditi Rao, Arundhathi Subramaniam, Aruni Kashyap, Ayesha Chatterjee, Bina Ellias, Jerry Pinto, Keki Daruwalla, Maitreyee Bhattacharjee Chowdhury, Michael Creighton, Monica Mody, Mustansir Dalvi, Ranjit Hoskote, Rochelle D’silva, Rochelle Potkar, Sampurna Chattarji, Sharanya Manivannan, Shikha Malaviya, Srilata K, Suhit Kelkar, Vinita Agrawal.

How you can help

• Come to the shows, of course. 

• Bring friends. Help spread the word, if you can, of the show, of the recordings when they’re up.

• Tell me which poets you would like the series to cover. Across languages, but in India or with an India connection only (for now).

• If you, or folks you know, would like to support this effort financially, get in touch.

Monday, 5 July 2021

Table Talk with Vikram Doctor

The flyer has a portrait of Vikram Doctor over the logotype Table Talk, which flows into their name. The text: Headline: 'A PLATE THAT’S ALWAYS FULL' Subhead: 'How food helps us learn about culture' Then, below, 'Sunday, 11 July, 8 p.m. IST'

Table Talk with Vikram Doctor
Date: Jul 11, 2021
Time: 20:00* IST

Vikram, vikdoc to many who know him on the very few online forums he inhabits (he has, over the years, firmly resisted any efforts to persuade him to get on to social media — I was shocked, shocked, I tell you, to find out he was on Instagram — is always Doccy for me.

We started our advertising careers together us trainees, he in client servicing, me in creative, in Lintas in the 90s. We shared laughs and music, books and woes, and many late nights in Express Towers before we went our different professional ways, and eventually out of advertising. We've kept in touch over the years, talking and meeting infrequently, but when we do, we are able to pick up the threads easily. As he put it once, "one of those semi-work friendships, when you can get close but don't really keep in touch after your workplaces diverge, and yet that basic connection isn't lost and you can always catch up every couple of years or so."

The world, of course, knows him as the food columnist with a cult following, the writer and podcaster who finds fascinating connections that help us understand our world and where it came from.

To steal another sentence from Doccy, it's time we had one of those once-in-two-years coffees.

We will chat mainly about the history of food writing, how to go about food research, stuff like that. You do know, of course, that when old friends meet and chat, the conversation can go all over the place. That's a feature, not a bug. :)

We'll chat for at least an hour, and have questions and discussion for 15 to 30 minutes, though I suspect we'll go on longer.

Giving back

Table Talk will stay free to attend and free to listen to or watch later, for as long as I can afford to keep it that way. But we would like to use our privilege to help others, so we’re asking our guests to choose a cause. Doc has chosen All Creatures Great and Small Sanctuary, which is a registered charitable trust. If you would like to say thank you for this session, and if you can afford to, please donate on their donation page, or via their campaign on Milaap.

Attending

You will need to go to the Zoom link and register with a valid email address, after which you will get the link to join the event.

To get notifications of new episodes and links to past episodes, please subscribe to:
- this Google Group: https://groups.google.com/d/forum/ttandfps
- and / or this Telegram Channel: https://t.me/TTandFPS

* If you've attended a Table Talk session before, please note the change in timing. This one will be at 8 p.m., not 9, since Sheru, the canine member of Doc's household, demands an early morning start to his day.

Wednesday, 23 June 2021

Table Talk with Kriti Monga

 


Kriti is a designer, artist, calligrapher, teacher, writer, and many other things. In her designer avatar, she has worked on restaurants; when she backpacks, she chronicles her travels with paintings in her journals. We will chat about how all these things intersect in her life, and she will show us some of her diaries.

Kriti, by the way, designed the logotype for Table Talk and the flyers, and also the logotype for the Simple recipes for complicated times group.

Table Talk is currently free to attend, but we’re asking all our guests to name covid-19-related fund-raisers they support, and asking attendees to make donations to these causes. Kriti has asked for support for TheWire.in. Please see this page for how you can do that. (The Wire is a non-profit under Indian laws. This means that The Wire's commercial income must remain under 20% of its total income, and donations are how they keep running.)

We’ll chat for at least an hour, and have questions and discussion for 15 to 30 minutes, though I suspect we’ll go on longer.

Register at this Zoom link with an email address linked to a Zoom account (signing up for Zoom is free); this is a security precaution. Registration is open up to the time of the event. After you register, you'll get a confirmation email with your meeting link and password.

To get notifications of new episodes and links to past episodes, please subscribe to this Google Group
and / or this Telegram Channel.

Thursday, 3 June 2021

Table Talk with Ranjini Rao

 

The flyer has a portrait of Ranjini Rao over the logotype Table Talk, which flows into their name. The text. Headline: "R FOR RECEIPES" Subhead: "Writing about food for kids" Then, below, "Sunday, 13 June, 9 p.m. IST"

Ranjini is a teacher, columnist and author. She wrote the memoir Lessons From My Mother’s Kitchen and, with Ruchira Ramanujam, has written Mango Masala, Book Worms & Jelly Bellies, and History Dishtory, the last two for children. We’ll discuss the craft of writing, food, and writing about food, with some focus on writing for kids, and we’ll hear Ranjini reading from her books.

Table Talk is currently free to attend, but we’re asking all our guests to name covid-19-related fund-raisers they support, and asking attendees to make donations to these causes. Ronj has chosen Mercy Mission, a coalition of 25 NGOs working in Bangalore. Please go to their Milaap page to donate.

We’ll chat for at least an hour, and have questions and discussion for 15 to 30 minutes, though I suspect we’ll go on longer.

Register at this Zoom link with an email address linked to a Zoom account (signing up for Zoom is free); this is a security precaution. Registration is open up to the time of the event. After you register, you'll get a confirmation email with your meeting link and password.

To get notifications of new episodes and links to past episodes, please subscribe to this Google Group
and / or this Telegram Channel.

Friday, 21 May 2021

Table Talk with Kurush Dalal

Our guest for the fourth edition of Table Talk is Dr Kurush Dalal.

Kurush is an archaeologist and anthropologist, an educator, and an inheritor of a culinary legacy (his mother was a legendary caterer (and an archaeologist)). We’ll talk about all these facets of him, and hopefully remember — he’s an entertaining storyteller, so it’s easy to get distracted — our main topic: what the people of the subcontinent ate based on the evidence he and others have literally dug up.

We’ll chat for at least an hour, and have questions and discussion for 15 to 30 minutes, though I suspect we’ll go on longer.

Please join us?

May 30, 2021 21:00 IST.

Register here with an email address linked to a Zoom account (signing up for Zoom is free). This is a security precaution. Registration is open up to the time of the event. After you register, you'll get a confirmation email with your meeting link and password.

Tuesday, 4 May 2021

Table Talk with Saba Mahjoor

Our guest for the third edition of Table Talk is Saba Mahjoor.

Saba's stories of her phuphee have captivated the Simple recipes for complicated times group. In this Table Talk, we'll listen to a few of these tales live. We'll also chat: about recipes and learning to cook, about growing up in Kashmir and about feminism.

We'll chat for 45 minutes to an hour, and have questions and discussion for 15 to 30 minutes.

When: May 2, 2021 21:00 IST. Register here.

Thursday, 29 April 2021

Table Talk with Antoine Lewis

This Sunday, our guest will be pal Antoine Lewis, food writer, culinary experimenter, and, he insists, not an influencer. 

We will talk about this whole authenticity thing, how cuisines influence each other, travel, morph, have descendants, change. Antoine has also been a literary curator, so we will perhaps also talk about food and books.

 We'll chat for 45 minutes to an hour, and have questions for 15 to 30 minutes. So, like an hour to a maximum of ninety minutes. 

You will need to go to this link on Zoom and register with a valid email address, after which you will get the link to join the event.

Please join us?


Monday, 26 April 2021

Field notes for disaster relief (suggestions for those wanting to help on social media)

You want to help, you’re limited to being able to offer only your time online or on the phone, but you don’t know how to get started. Here are some tips from Dina, Bala, Neha, and me, based on our own experience long ago running tsunamihelp.blogspot.com and allied and subsequent efforts.

YMMV and all that.

Collaborate.

We believe in the power of one. But we would also strongly recommend collaboration. (Which, if you come to think of it, does require that one person to make the first move.

Many like-minded folks working together make for a whole greater than the sum of its parts. Even if members each have modest followings in the social medium you choose, you can reinforce each other’s posts and increase reach by each one amplifying to their own audiences.

A collaborative effort can also be the foundation of life-long friendships. Trust us at least on this.

Most of the rest of this is about such collaborative work.

So, what next?

Step 0.

Look around for people who have already formed groups to do things like collect and sort information. Volunteer to join them. There are many already out there. Follow their methods and ignore the rest of this post. (Folks who are running groups like this, please leave a comment so others can find you.)

If that doesn’t work out, for whatever reason, perhaps you could start a group of your own. In which case you might want to read these tips.

What do you want to do? Will you list fundraisers? (What kind? Help for individuals? Organisations raising money?) Help people find home medical help? (Source oxygen tanks + ventilators etc? Medicines?) Source medicines? Hospital help? Help people who are quarantined?

It makes sense to look around and see what is needed.

There are three broad types of info needs we see right now: emergency, persistent, and clarity.
• ‘Emergency’ would be all the cries for help we see where people require oxygen or hospital beds NOW or they will die.
• ‘Persistent’ or longer-term needs would be reliable (and current) sources for O2, medicines, lists of beds available, medical help at home, meal services, and similar.
• ‘Clarity’ is needed because there are many, many questionable and troubling rumours and superstitions being passed around as facts, which need debunking, and many good sources of sound info and can-apply-right-now tips that need amplification.
Each requires slightly different skill-sets.

Decide: Which type will your group handle?

(It may make sense to focus on one and do it well rather than flounder as you try to do it all. Of course, if you have a large group, you may be able to pull off many things at once. We did, that time, with TsunamiHelp, because we had several hundred people in the effort.)

A collaborative blog would probably work better for the ‘Persistent’ type of need. Your effort could be a constantly updated repository or aggregator.

‘Emergency’ needs could prob be done with a blog, but may be more efficiently done by working as individuals but coordinating.

‘Clarity’ needs could be met by individuals supporting the efforts of fact-checking sites and healthcare professionals; donate to the, re-share their posts.

So, step 1.

Decide exactly what you want to do.

Then put it into words.

A clear ‘mission statement’ helps everyone focus. (Mission statements are for internal use, meant to inspire your team and give it direction. It isn’t necessarily the name of your effort or your hashtag.)

Step 2.

Think through the various tasks that will need to be done, and then divide you team accordingly.

For instance (with titles, some of which we used):
• Collect information: ‘Seekers’
• Sort info: ‘Sifters’
• Verify info: ‘Checkers’
• Clean up and format info: ‘editors’
• Make it accessible in multiple ways (including to people with disabilities) and on different platforms: ‘Translators’; ‘Specialists’
• Delete info that is outdated or sensitive: ‘Cleaner-uppers’ (This is important. Someone required a hospital bed and shared a phone number; the bed is got (or worse, is not needed any more), but the person who asked is still getting calls at a time when they have other needs. Or a supplier is out of stock, but still getting besieged by requests. And we’ve seen women who posted numbers getting dickpicks and lewd calls. Never post private numbers in public if you can help it.)
• Answer requests: ‘Call Centre’; ‘Helpline’
• Onboard new volunteers: ‘HR’; ‘Trainers’
• Solve tech issues: ‘IT’; “Fixers’
• Coordinate all this (no mean task): ‘Managers’
• Your effort is very popular and the media wants to chat? Have ‘spokespersons’ with agreed talking points.

Step 3.

Put people in charge of each of these functions; we suggest working in shifts with handover protocols.

Bring new volunteers in quickly (a shared document with goals, methods etc would be great) but ensure that they're on board with your central goals AND methods. If you can hear out people who disagree with your goals/methods, fine, but it's cool to shrug, thank them for their time and wish them godspeed elsewhere.

How do you run this?

Some thoughts.
• You’ll need an HQ, a ‘war room’ or ‘conference room’ which could be something like WhatsApp, Telegram, Signal, or a Google Group.
• Keep a private page updated with what one finds / verifies etc for the group’s internal use. You could use Google Groups, which lets you have stuff in threads, or a private Facebook group with posts under which new info is added as comments. A platform that doesn’t let you easily go just to the threads that matter will became a morass in no time.
• And of course maintain a public page / site / social media handle updated for your target audience. This could be a blog, a Google Drive (or similar) page, Google Sites, a Twitter or Instagram or whatever is most comfortable and hospitable for your team and your audience.
• Use whatever social media you’re comfortable with, and see how you can use (or repurpose) the new tools you have, like Zoom, Google Meet, and similar, Whatsapp, Signal, Telegram, and similar.
Repurpose?
For example, we used a blog as a collaborative publishing platform, supplemented that with things like using Yahoo Chat (R.I.P.) as a war-room, Skype (you remember, Zoom people?) as a call centre, Flickr (THE photo-sharing site of that time) as a missing persons album, and so on. None of these were designed with those uses in mind, but they worked for us.

• Whatever you use, it’s important that not everyone should post to the public page — could lead to duplication — so systematic process and defined roles are important.

A word on self-care.

The work you’re doing is important, but you won’t be able to continue to do it if your body or mind get too tired, too stressed. You won’t be doing anyone any good if your mind of body break down.

DON’T TRY AND DO THIS ALL YOUR WAKING HOURS. Take breaks. Cut out completely for some time. Chat with the folks you live with, or loved ones further away. Cuddle you pets or talk to your plants. Eat properly. Listen to music. Watch a movie. Go down internet rabbit holes as you pursue your other interests. SLEEP.

A word on conflict.

Resolve conflict early. Any group of people will have conflicts. In a world in which so much is going to hell in a jet-propelled hand-basket, people will be tense. It’s important to solve disagreements quickly, without rancour. Maybe someone in the team is good at calming people down? Put that person in charge of conflict resolution.

 

p.s. For other ways you can help, this post might give you some ideas. This kind of action can have huge value, as Anshumani Ruddra has shown with this tweet, and the very many folks emulating him (see the quote tweets).

Update: Some of us are doing Dhan Daan again. More here.

Saturday, 17 April 2021

Table Talk with Kirtana Kumar

Our guest for the first episode is Kirtana Kumar, theatre practitioner.

During lockdown, Kirtana and her family moved base to their farm. We'll talk about how that has worked out, the unromanticised view of what farm life actually is from an urban person's point of view, its effect on her theatre practice, food and politics and what she's learned about it in these months (including a project she is working on), and other things that take our fancy.

We'll also make time for questions from the audience.