A few months ago, I read Eating Women, Eating Lives on a flight to Bangalore. It was a strange kind of book with strange kind of stories about strange kind of people. A bunch of women were preparing and cooking food for a funeral in a kitchen. Each, someone's aunt and someone's mum and someone's aunt's friend, someone's sister's sister-in-law. They were thinking, dreaming and telling each other stories about the family, rumours and secrets and desires barely hidden.
I wonder what walls Anish was talking about when he asked Ponni about the kitchen and recipes. What walls was Ponni talking about? For years, I've been kept out of the kitchen. Ma doesn't like anyone around when she's cooking. But she always complains once done, " Girls are supposed to learn cooking at an early age. It's time both of you help me out in the kitchen. It'd be so nice to have dinner ready by the time I come home." Despite wanting to help her out, I'd stay out of the kitchen - because she doesn't let me in and because I refused to go in as a girl.
The walls of the kitchen was filled with delicious smells, but the air was also often heavy with bitterness and fumes.
I was ravenous in the flight, reading Eating Women. I knew I wouldn't actually like any of the recipes so beautifully described, but they made me hungry nevertheless. The strangeness of the stories is a strangeness that I find strangely appealing. It's there in very few books, at least very few books that I have read. These are also the only books that flow seamlessly into my writing, so much so that I may be accused of plagiarism. The writing I know by instinct is particularly female. Not feminine, no. Female. Syntax and semantics rebuilds in meaning to appeal to a very different sensibility in me.
We've spoken in passing about gender in our research for Unreserved. Staggered references in interviews as well. The performer-facilitators might appease the representational politics of gender. But I wonder where we see the politics of resistance lies when we speak of gender. Would it automatically design a journey that is female because of the women in it or would resistance mean something entirely different if this journey was written in a language of resistance? Because that might be a different language than what it is now.
Meanwhile, we might be looking for flavour in a bowl of Kellogg's.