A cheesy country song comes to mind. Shania Twain’s.
They said, “I bet they’ll never make it.”
But look at us holding on.
....., still going strong.
Defiance comes to mind. As does pride. And joy and hope and many, many plans for the years ahead. Like how a grand love affair that flashes past a full year can only be acknowledged by a toast to a clichéd celebratory party – a year is only a beginning, for the scent of these affairs last a lifetime – I take recourse in a cliché now. This is a first anniversary letter, and that calls for a round of congratulations, pats on the back, clinks of glasses that hold good whiskey.
It has been a grand love affair, this magazine. With the expectant highs, lows, excitement, stress, stimulation, tears and the proverbial blood that is demanded of anything of passion. What started in the study rooms and studios of a rather eclectic mix of creativists has, in this past year, grown to surround an audience in over a hundred countries. Sometimes it has been sheer stubbornness not to give up that got us here. But mostly, it has been the immense support from just about everyone, friends and family of course, but also complete strangers. A heartfelt thank you, to each of you.
Every issue, sans a pre-determined theme, is a surprise as much for you, dear reader, as it is for the editors. As always, we have a smorgasbord of issues that are addressed here. Gloria Kiconco risks a gross anomaly in her poignant essay about being that woman who cannot cook, though she does enough to feed herself. With this admission, she questions the very notion of what is required of a woman, an African woman, a Ugandan woman. In the face of a beef ban in India, imposed by an increasingly fundamental, intolerant far right-wing government, Bijoy Venugopal, for whose family beef is just another meat, without any religious connotations, writes about how asking for “one kilo beef” is nothing less than a war cry.
War cries, war changes something in those that are even breezily touched by it. Milan Susak lived through two of them in the then Yugoslavia. The tendency of humanity to immerse itself in the quotidian, in the pedestrian when faced with trauma, that desperate clutching on to strands of perceived normalcy is what Susak writes about when he writes about a simple cake – an indulgence - from the wartime. War is, at its most simplistic function, about control. The control wielded over the victims of war, via the control over how much, and what they will eat at every meal, is at the base of Daniel Fernández Pascual and Alon Schwabe’s work Dietary Confinement. Through their work, they talk about how food became a crucial prison-building method when constructing an incarceration system in the Gaza Strip. Aditya Kamath’s essay continues in this vein; he examines how throughout history, laws have tried, and dangerously, often succeeded in controlling how and what people eat.
Do those of us who live in the polluted metropolises of the world really have a choice of ingredients that go into the making of our meal? Artists from The Centre for Genomic Gastronomy set about trying to understand what the smog and the poisons that are emanated into a city’s air tasted like. Their smog chamber creates many different smogs using recipes with readily available precursor ingredients. In a globalized world where world cuisines populate even the most humble dinner table, Omair Ahmad mulls over what a ‘national dish’ means in a country like Bhutan. The effects of globalization, and its dubious bedfellow, capitalism reduces living to consumerist lifestyle choices at the cost of ecological concerns. In an atmosphere of such precarity, Abhishek Hazra’s Little Ditty for Piketty makes a reference to French economist Thomas Piketty’s 2014 book ‘Capital in the Twenty-First Century’ where he critiques contemporary capitalism’s inexorable march towards greater income inequality.
So there. A delectable thali with all kinds of articles. We thought about fanfare and balloons and fireworks exploding on screen for the one year issue. And decided against them all, in favour of just another day at the Forager Collective office. (Not too quiet anymore, for the resident dog, Kobri, who makes an appearance in Art Editor Sunoj D’s illustration, demanding frequent attention.) That does not mean we aren’t super thrilled about this past year and those to come or very grateful to you for all your support. Do continue doing so. Meanwhile, enjoy reading the magazine.
Deepa Bhasthi is a writer living and working in Bengaluru, India. Her works are available at http://dbhasthi.blogspot.in
She is the Editor at The Forager.