Tuesday, 26 October 2021

Table Talk with Sonia Jabbar

 The flyer has a portrait of Sonia Jabbar over the logo Table Talk, which flows into their name. The text: Headline: ‘Brewing Revolutions’ Subhead: ‘Legacies, elephants, and tea’ Below, ‘Sunday, 31 October, 8 p.m. IST’

Table Talk with Sonia Jabbar
Date: October 31, 2021
Time: 20:00 IST*

I knew Sonia via online networks and mutual friends over the years, and followed some of her work as an essayist, travel writer and photographer before I first met her at a party and promptly gushed ar her (I had just been blown away by an essay she had written that was in Elsewhere: Unusual Takes on India, a collection from the no-longer-among-the-living India Magazine) and she took several steps backwards, understandably alarmed. She did not, fortunately for me, block me from all social media after that, and I got to witness her metamorphosis into a plantation owner — when her mother passed away in 2011, Sonia took over the nurturing of Nuxalbari Tea in north Bengal, which her family has owned since 1884 — deeply involved not just with the growing of fine tea, but with the issues of the women who worked there and with conservation. In 2019, the Indian government recognised her work, giving her a Nari Shakti Puraskar.

We will talk about her various lives, about the nuances of tea, the elephants who pass through the estate and her w8ork to give them safe passage, the reforestation work.

We’ll chat for a couple of hours, including questions from and discussion with the audience. We won’t go much beyond 10 p.m., because Sonia has to be up with the sun.

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.

Sonia’s choice is Haathi Saathi Foundation, on organisation she founded, which works on creating awareness of conservation issues with children, and other community outreach, creating elephant corridors, and reforestation. Asdie form making a donation, you could also choose to volunteer to spend time at the plantation, planting trees, recording elephant movement, building environmental and conservation leadership among rural kids. More here.

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

* Please note, we start an hour ealier than the usual time, at 8:00 p.m. IST.

Friday, 15 October 2021

Table Talk with Nandita Iyer

The flyer has a portrait of Nandita Iyer over the logo Table Talk, which flows into their name. The text: Headline: ‘What the doctor ordered’ Subhead: ‘Superfoods and healthy scepticism’ Below, ‘Sunday, 17 October, 9 p.m. IST’

Table Talk with Nandita Iyer
Date: October 7, 2021
Time: 21:00 IST

Nandita is a qualified medical doctor, giving a lazy headline writer an option for basic wordplay (sorry, not sorry). But she is best known as an early food blogger (she started her blog in 2006) who is now a columnist, author, YouTube star, and consultant.

We will talk about her journey as a writer, of course, and then we will spend some time chatting about food fads and trends and how to take the long view on them, and of course the subject of her last book, superfoods.

We’ll chat for a couple of hours, including questions from and discussion with the audience, and if Nandita, who is an early riser, is amenable, we may talk a little 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. Nandita’s choice is a campaign that is buying school uniforms for underprivileged children in the Whitefield area of Bangalore. We’re requesting folks in the audience to thank Nandita for her time with a donation to the campaign.

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
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Thursday, 30 September 2021

What are the correct terms for referring to disabilities?



I get asked this often, perhaps because I’ve written about disability a little, and don’t have any visible disabilities myself, so it’s not embarrassing to ask me. So I thought it might be even less awkward to just leave this out here.

With this caveat. I AM NOT AN AUTHORITY ON THIS TOPIC. I’m just sharing what I’ve learnt, and it’s entirely possible that I get some things wrong. As a general guide, ask yourself this. How can I be more inclusive in my communication? How can I not be hurtful or exclude other people?*

Still with me? Okay then.

What are the correct terms for referring to disabilities?

First, ditch the euphemisms (like ‘specially abled,’ and ‘differently abled,’ ‘-challenged,’ ‘divyang’) or indications that a disability makes one less of a person (‘impaired’).

‘Specially-abled’ and its cousin, ‘differently abled’ rile many disabled people; it’s not, they say, that the ones without vision gain the ability to fly or that a spinal injury results in spidey sense.

The suffix ‘-challenged’ is as condescending, implying that all it takes to function in a world not designed for you is a bit of effort.

And what about ‘divyang,’ coined by our prime minister himself? A letter to the PM in January 2016 signed by 71 organisations and individuals asked that the term not be used. In that letter, and again in an open letter later that year, they said, “Invoking divinity will not lessen the stigma and discrimination that persons with disabilities have been historically subjected to and continue to encounter in their daily lives. […] We would like to reiterate that disability is not a divine gift. And the use of phrases like ‘divyang’ in no way ensures de-stigmatisation or an end to discrimination on grounds of disability.” (My friend Divyanshu, who among many other things, is a qualified paragliding pilot and runs a foundation that promotes inclusive adventure, says, “You call me divyang and I’ll SHOW you my divine body parts.”)

So, what CAN you say?

The general guideline is, put the personhood first, then, acknowledge the disability. For example, “People with visual disabilities” rather than “the visually impaired” or “visually challenged.” And it's generally a good idea to avoid “wheelchair-bound” which is a judgement, and go with “wheelchair user,” a statement of fact.

When it comes to public writing, most media house’s style guides will tell you to go with “person with disability” or “persons [or people] with disabilities.” Some also use the abbreviation PWDs if the term is being used repeatedly, but I don't like that, because it feels like another avoidance of acknowledging disability, though mild.

If it’s a stage event or a live online event, like say, introducing a person or a topic, go with person with disability, but best to ask the person. (And really, mentioning the disability is only relevant when the actual topic is disability or when the person’s disability clarifies something in your narrative.)

Yes, it may feel awkward, but ask. Think about how you like to be introduced formally; wouldn’t you prefer to be introduced on your terms? And those of you who have your names mispronounced often, isn’t it much nicer when an event host takes the time to check with you on how to say it right?

And there are other viewpoints too. Some people with hearing disabilities much prefer the term “Deaf” with a capital D. Divyanshu is perfectly fine with being called blind. Several friends who disabilities have no problems with the “-challenged” suffix.

So, ask.

One more. Tread very carefully when you want to say you find a disabled person inspirational. Many disabled people are totally fed up with that. “Inspiration porn,” they call it.


* On this last part, I wrote a piece in The Hindu a couple of years ago that focussed a bit more on the words we use when referring to mental illness and learning and intellectual disabilities.

And I’m adding here a comment from my friend Shilpa, which is about the terminology many neurodivergent people prefer, something I have only recently begun to educate myself on.


An important word on person-first language.

Agree with all of this, but many disabled people with genetic conditions see “put the person first” coming from an ableist perspective wherein a person with a disability or a difference is necessarily seen as “wrong” — where the benchmark is being “normal” or “right” — and the disability or difference pathologised.

Most autistic and neurodivergent people prefer identity-first language, in fact, since neurodivergence isn’t a piece of clothing that you can “take off,” so to speak, or “fix.” It very much makes you who you are: one is born neurodivergent, one will die neurodivergent. Which may or may not be the same as certain other disabilities, like someone who loses a limb in an accident, say. It’s similar to calling a LGBTQ person “person with gayness” or “person with homosexuality”; sounds incongruous, because it is.

That said, it’s always best to ask rather than to assume what language the disabled person prefers: identity-first, or person-first. There are no blanket rules here.

Monday, 27 September 2021

Table Talk with Vikram Doctor

The flyer has a portrait of Vikram Doctor over the logo Table Talk, which flows into their name. The text: Headline: 'Fast food' Subhead: 'Understanding Gandhi through what he ate' Below, 'Sunday, 3 October, 8 p.m. IST'

Table Talk with Vikram Doctor
Date: October 3, 2021
Time: 20:00* IST

You all know vikdoc, through his columns or his podcasts, or maybe, more recently, his Instagram (or perhaps, and I know this is unlikely, from his earlier appearance on Table Talk), the chap who finds fascinating connections that help us understand our world and where it came from.

This session was his idea, and when I say he does his homework, I do not say so lightly: Doc read all 96 volumes of Gandhi’s Collected Works, “finding references to Gandhi's interest in food all the way through.” We will chat about Gandhi’s dietary choices and how they shaped his life. For instance, when he first went to London, he was not a particularly political person, but his decision to stay vegetarian led him to explore the vegetarian movement in the UK, one that was part of a number of challenges to the British way of life, and began going to meetings of the local Vegetarian Society. And when he went to South Africa, he identified himself as a barrister and a member of the Vegetarian Society of the UK, whose aims he wanted to propagate there. There is more, of course, and I'm looking forward to it.

So, long story short, we'll chat for a couple of hours, including questions from and discussion with the audience, and if we can, we’ll persuade Doc to stay 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.

Friday, 24 September 2021

See through

Aside from school, I've never studied art formally. (One one-day clay workshop in the early 90s, and one short course in clay a couple of years ago, were the closest.) I had a few booklets from correspondence courses my aunts had done way before I was born, which had been left behind in my grandparents' home, and I would do the exercises, and I learnt more from those than I did in the art classes in school. (My school art teachers weren't really very good. One teacher I remember with dislike also doubled up as a Marathi teacher, and he was, one, a cruel bastard, would whack boys' knuckles with the edge of a ruler, throw wooden blackboard dusters across the room, that kind of thing, and, two, he favoured kids who copied his style, which was a bit advanced for school kids; he took the joy out of art for me. Later, my parents actually encouraged me to go to art school if I wanted, which is rare for folks of that generation who had no art background themselves, but I decided against it, partly because of what this arsehole had made me feel about studying art, and partly because there was very little career counselling available. I mean, I thought one went to art school only to become an artist or an art teacher. Sigh.)

Anyway.

When I began sculpting again, a few years ago, I found that my informal study of art, from poring over classic paintings — which began when I would download images of these for an ex who was a pretty good artist — and before that, just being in the same workspace as very skilled art directors, had rubbed off on me, and my sensibilities had changed. Often I find myself struggling to create what I can see in my mind but I haven't trained enough to make.

So I went back to informal study, following artists on Instagram, immersing myself in archives, you know.

And, to get the point of this ramble, zooming into pictures of dancers — who have always fascinated me, maybe because I wanted to be one, once upon a when — and athletes, to learn about bodies in motion, looking up anatomy drawings and renderings to understand muscles and bones, that kind of thing. I like creating shapes and figures of women more than I do men, which we'll leave for some future therapist to analyse.

This last bit has had a weird consequence.

Now, when I see a pretty woman, a beautiful face, a lithe body, rather than just saying thank you to the heavens, like any sensible heterosexual man, ever so often I find my mind stripping away their skin to imagine the muscles, the bones, the sinews.

Not always, thank goodness, but often. And even more thanks to providence that in this time I'm only seeing people virtually, or I would probably be arrested for, I don't know, unauthorised anatomy study?

I don't know how to feel about this.

Wednesday, 22 September 2021

Random

When a woman friend says to me, “I hate men,” or something similar, one part of me cringes for all men and, I confess, instantly examines every interaction I’ve ever had with this specific woman if not all women. Another assumes, likely for my own sense of self-worth, that in this statement is an implicit “Not all men,” or that it isn’t about specific men but about a system in which men are the beneficiaries and in which I, as a man, benefit whether I choose to or not, or that for the moment, at least, my own maleness is not germane to what she is saying, or even, perhaps, for the purpose of this discussion, that I am an honorary woman.

That’s all right, then.

Monday, 20 September 2021

Early

Given that all my closest friends know the way my body clock works, and given they also know my medical history, I have to be very cautious about calling friends early in the day.

(Called one such friend the other day just after noon. I usually message people before I call them, but this time I was excited about something I‘d seen that friend was involved with, so I just picked up the phone to call and congratulate immediately. Friend is very senior person in friend’s company. Friend was in a meeting. Friend answered anyway. Later tells me, “Call from you when the sun is still up? I froke; thought it was an emergency.”)

Rear-view

When you’re friends on social media with people you’ve been in romantic relationships with in the past, or nurtured significant romantic feelings for, you come across their posts, their pictures — landmark events or daily stuff, it doesn’t matter — and there flashes across your mind’s eye snapshots of a ghost life in a branch of time that never happened in your reality.

Or is that just me?

Wednesday, 15 September 2021

Table Talk with Rushina Munshaw-Ghildiyal

The flyer has a portrait of Rushina Munshaw-Ghildiyal over the logotype Table Talk, which flows into their name. The text: Headline: 'Bytes and bites' Subhead: 'Chronicling India’s  vast culinary legacy, online and off' Below, 'Sunday, 19 September, 9 p.m. IST'

Table Talk with Rushina Munshaw-Ghildiyal
Date: 19 September, 2021
Time: 21:00 IST

I've known Rushina from back when the term ‘social media’ wasn’t a thing and she and I were were part of a small community of early bloggers. Even then, she was carving out her space as a specialist, a food blogger, and in the years since, she has just grow’d and grow’d. In her words, “I describe myself as a Culinary Chronicler, but switch hats between being a teacher, a Corporate Food Consultant, and Curator of Food experiences.” She now runs her own consulting firm, A Perfect Bite, and APB Cook Studio, a food incubator lab, test kitchen and studio, and among other things, she authors Godrej’s annual Food Trends Report, runs conferences, and much more I hope to catch up on in our chat. And of course she continues to blog and is very active on Instagram, where I tease her about being an infuencer.

Our chat will be about her evolution from those blogging days and what she has learnt over the years about writing and making content about food, and in particular her work documenting this country's many cuisines, including her current project that focusses on spices, and much else. (If you have attended Table Talk sessions before, you know that tangents and digressions from the a̶l̶i̶b̶i̶ topic are a feature, not a bug.)

Giving back

Table Talk will stay free to attend, and when I get down to uploading past episodes, 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. Rushina’s pick is the Verushka Foundation, a small non-profit working to provide sustainable livelihood opportunities for young individuals with developmental disabilities by training them and placing them in the culinary space. If you would like to say thank you to Rushina for the session, please donate via Gpay or NEFT to
Account Name: Veruschka Foundation
Account Number: 013100101010946
IFSC Code: SRCB0000013
Name of Bank: The Saraswat Co-operative Bank Ltd.
Bank Branch: Marol

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

More about Table talk here.

Thursday, 2 September 2021

Table Talk with Anita Roy

The flyer has a portrait of Anita Roy over the logotype Table Talk, which flows into their name. The text: Headline: 'Sourdough adventures' Subhead: 'Cultures, inheritances and stepping lightly on the planet' Below, 'Sunday, 5 September, 9 p.m. IST'

Table Talk with Anita Roy
Date: 5 September, 2021
Time: 21:00 IST

Anita is a writer and editor who has worked across genres. But the reason she is our guest for this edition is that she is also an environmentalist who lives her principles. And she bakes a mean loaf.

Our chat will be anchored in sourdough and what the simple act of making your own bread teaches you, but we’ll also talk about writing, especially for children and young adults, teaching, foraging, preserving for winter and future generations, and how these things converge in her life. And, erm, lots else. (If you have attended Table Talk sessions before, you know that tangents and digressions from the alibi topic are a feature, not a bug.)

Giving back

Table Talk will stay free to attend, and when I get down to uploading past episodes, 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. Anita’s pick is The Community Library Project, a movement I share her respect and love for. The nice part, she says, is anyone “can donate books as well as money, and anything that keeps dem stories circulating and not just gathering dust on some forgotten bookshelf has gotta be good.” If you would like to say thank you to Anita for the session, please go to the CLP’s donation page for details.

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

More about Table talk here.

Monday, 30 August 2021

How to get groceries delivered in 10 minutes or less

1. Get to know your local grocers.
In most Indian cities, there’s at least two mom-and-pop kind of kirana stores within a 10-minute walk away. I don’t necessarily mean your deepest-fears-and-guiltiest-pleasures kind of get to know (though that’s okay); I mean, chat, spend a few pleasant moments, ask how they’re doing, ask after their families. Basically, do not treat them like a transaction.

2. This means, of course, that you must physically visit these shops.
Yes, even if you are a Busy, Important Person. A 20-minute walk is good for you. (Masked, natch.) Plus a little weight-training on the way back. (If you’d rather not carry it all back, most of these places will send a lad with a cycle after you.) This takes care of most of your regular groceries needs.

3. You have their phone numbers now. And even if you’re reasonably organised, you’ll sometimes use up some things a bit faster between grocery runs. But you will know you’re running out of rice a couple of days before you actually do. Call them. They will deliver. Mostly fairly quickly, unless you’re in a very congested area, certainly before the rice runs out.

4. But if you’re like my level organised — and I am to planning what certain governments are to, well, Planning — you will forget something sometime and need it quickly. Or like maybe you have unexpected guests — hahahahah remember guests? sob — or the people you share your home express cravings for out-of-syllabus items. Call your friend, the grocer.
At 9:45 p.m, I boiled milk. It split. I had no more milk. My corner store had closed for the night. I called my kirana shop, a bigger place, which is 10 minutes’ walk away and which usually begins shutting around 9:30. Explained I needed milk. After a cursory ‘anything else’ kind of query — but with not a trace of insistence on a minimum order size — the shop-keeper put the phone down, and five minutes later, a lad who had cycled here rang my doorbell bearing 1 (one) 500 ml milk packet and wearing a smile peeping out from the sides of his mask.

I should say that this is not unusual. And no, I’m not one of those gregarious life-of-the-party types who can — gasp — just talk to anyone. Also, I’m not one of those people who has lived in one place all my life and now on the way to becoming a venerable local landmark. I’ve lived in five cities, 12 houses. In the last 25-odd years, my family lived in several nearby neighbourhoods and we got to know all the local shop people on at least a smile-and-nod-happy-diwali kind of basis. (That’s me, with my poor memory for names; Mum and Dad knew them by their names, and often knew their family members’ names as well.) When I pass through those areas now, I often stop by and say hello. They remember me. They remember my folks. I always get a smile.

Support local businesses, folks. If for nothing else, just because it makes life nicer.

Thursday, 19 August 2021

Table Talk with Ananya Kabir & Ari Gautier

The flyer has a portrait of Ananya Kabir and Ari Gautier over the logotype Table Talk, which flows into their names. The text: Headline: 'The mixing pot' Subhead: 'How creole recipes enrich our cuisine and culture' And below, 'Sunday, 22 August, 9 p.m. IST'

Table Talk with Ananya Kabir and Ari Gautier
Date: 22 August, 2021
Time: 21:00 IST

Ananya is an academic and researcher, and Ari is a writer and poet. Together, they founded and run Le thinnai Kreyol (on Facebook, YouTube, Medium, and Instagram), which has been discussing and showcasing various aspects of creole cultures

We’ll talk about creole cultures all over the world — and of course specifically in India — and the cuisines and foods that they have birthed, but we’re very likely to talk about lots else. (If you have attended Table Talk sessions before, you know that tangents and digressions from the alibi topic are a feature, not a bug.)

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. Ananya and Ari have chosen Unicef’s Afghan appeal, “as I’m sure we all agree that there’s no one on this earth more needy of protection than vulnerable children.” If you would like to say thank you to Ananya and Ari for the session, please donate what you can at Unicef‘s campaign.

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

Tuesday, 3 August 2021

Table Talk with Nilanjana Roy

The flyer has a black-and-white portrait of Nilanjana Roy over the logotype 'Table Talk,' which flows into their name. Alongside the photo, against a pink background, the headline 'By the book' and Subhead 'Reading food.' Then, below, the information, 'Sunday, 8 August, 9 p.m. IST'

Table Talk with Nilanjana Roy
Date: 8 August, 2021
Time: 21:00 IST

Nilanjana is an author, critic, columnist, and editor. In A Matter of Taste (2004) an anthology of writing on food and its place in our lives, she collects some of the most significant Indian voices over the last century. She also did time in journalism and publishing, and for several years wrote the popular blog Kitabkhana. You can also follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

Some two decades ago, she became one of my closest friends, and she and her partner and their cats have frequently been my home away from home in Delhi, where have I spent many happy hours in their bookshelves, pausing only to attempt to eat them out of said house and home or be taken out and fed.

We’ll talk about the intersection of books and food, yes, but being old buddies, we’re very likely to talk about lots else. (If you have attended Table Talk sessions before, you know that tangents and digressions from the alibi topic are a feature, not a bug.)

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. Nilanjana has chosen  Goonj, especially for their work on Covid-19 relief. Many of you would have heard of Goonj as the organisation that collects used clothes, bed linen and the like, but they are so much more. If you would like to say thank you to Nilanjana for the session, please donate what you can 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

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.

Friday, 9 April 2021

Table Talk

If you’re on Facebook, chances are I have invited you to join Simple recipes for complicated times, a group I run. If you’re in the group, skip the next two paragraphs.

It was a sort of reaction to lockdown, a way for people like me, unaccustomed to cooking or managing their kitchens to get some simple recipe ideas, tips on how to work with whatever was available, and so on, from more experienced folks. It took off rather rapidly, thanks to folks like you who saw usefulness in it and invited friends in and helped spread the word. Membership grew rapidly, until we began moderating join requests as a way of cutting clutter. It’s now at around 6,800. (The group even got a bit of kind press coverage, finding mentions in these pieces by Paromitra Vohra, Priya Ramani, Ranjini Rao, and Manjula Padmanabhan.)

On March 19th, we completed a year. As a way or marking the date, (‘celebration’ seems like the wrong word to use for something born of a crisis), I hosted a couple of video chats on the group, which were fun.

Going ahead, I plan to host a fortnightly chat, each time with a different guest (or guests, max three people). It’s called Table Talk and will be live once a fortnight, on Sundays, 9 p.m. IST. I'll also archive these to YouTube or similar for those who couldn’t be there for the live webcast.

The idea is to have my guests tell stories — which could be in many kinds of media — or do a lecture or a tutorial or a demonstration, or have a debate or chat with two or three people, maybe even things like quizzes. All connected to recipes, cooking and food, of course. This would be for around an hour, maybe more (who am I kidding; definitely more). And then we’d throw it open to the audience to join in, with questions, discussion, debate, because the purpose is to involve the community, for another half-hour or more.

Topics for the first few sessions include: what it takes to actually give up the city and live the farm life, with asides on what kitchen ingredients you may want to carry with you if you’re spending a short stint in another country; summer foods and beverages and also food and literature; tales from one of the group’s most popular story-tellers; what a food reviewer looks for and also why not to be constrained by recipes; writing food for kids, with a reading; a peek into an artist’s travel diaries and a bit about food and art; culinary anthropology and what we know about what ancient Indians ate; creole foods and exploring creole cultures. And more to come.

That lovely logo? Hand-lettered by my talented friend the designer, artist, calligrapher and storyteller Kriti Monga, who was a founding member of the group and frequent contributor.

Gratitude to my friend Shubha Sharma who brainstormed the idea with me and came up with many of the possible subjects we'll be exploring, and Nilanjana S Roy, Manjula Padmanabhan, Rimi N, Venkat Krishnan N, Sameera Khan, Prem Panicker, Kurush F Dalal, Rashmi Dhanwani, Richa Dubey, Anita Vasudeva, Anita Roy, who all took time to critique the idea and offer me their thoughts and suggestions.

If you’d like advance notice of shows, and links to recordings, please subscribe to the Google Group and/or the Telegram Channel. Both are one-way: only admins, i.e., me, can post, so you won’t get any clutter on your inbox. There will be, at most, three messages a week: advance notice of the next live show, and links to recordings of shows just gone by.

Want to be on the show? Get in touch.

p.s. You’ll notice, if you’ve been nice and subscribed to the Google Group and/or the Telegram Channel, that they also reference ‘For Pete's Sake.’ That’s another project I’m developing, about which more soon.