Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Creative Trail #5


The Times Square, New York from the 1920s


Every time I see a black and white image, it becomes a very synesthetic experience.  I slip back into that era through my very own rabbit hole. Into my version of the fantasy world. When I see an image, I want to know more than what I can see. I want to know the people, the time, the sounds, the smells, everything. 

And Emily Thompson succeeds in bringing to us the oh-so-lovely sounds of the vendors and the streets of New York from the 20s. The closest I have been to that period is with 'Mr. Smith Goes to Washington'. And then this project which has preserved the original sounds like they were. Fascinating. Absolutely. Take a look.

Photographs © AB

Monday, November 25, 2013

The tale teller



A quick introduction to someone who's recently joined the Chicory Chai family. You guys must have seen her around often lately in most of our news or updates. And ofcourse wondered where she'd come from. 

At Chicory Chai, we constantly chatter. Sometimes constructive, sometimes in sheer randomness. We have so much to say! And so much to share. So all these tales to tell shall now come to you via our CCO (Correct!) - The Chief Communication Officer. Meet Ms. Ori (with no reference whatsoever to Stargate). She is our star narrator who shall be presenting from time to time, the happenings at the studio. She will tell you all about us, all those things you'll be keen to know (or not know!) She'll bring to you all the stories; just like a li'l birdie :)

Photographs © Chicory Chai

Monday, July 22, 2013

The story of snuff

I had never seen snuff boxes or bottles as beautiful as these. The only link between me and this stuff called snuff was my 75 year old nanny cum washer woman cum a story-teller cum my very first general-knowledge teacher. Aau bai had seen 3 generations of my family grow under her, by the time she started baby-sitting me. So in her mind, the raison d'etre was to look after us so that we thrived in our lives. I remember her as a strong-willed woman with almost ninety degrees of hunch, showing off her wrinkles and taking great pride in her association with us. 



My school would get over by 1pm. I'd run home to catch the staff while they had their lunch. Rarely would I sit with the family - all the action was when these guys took their lunch break and caught up on the day and gossip around the town. Aau bai was the official speaker; by virtue of her age (and therefore authority!) Once the lunch was done, she would sit by the old pillar, cleaning whatever remained of her teeth with the middle rib of a curry-leaf. Then adjusting her nine-yard saree, she would bring out her tiny toffee-like treasure, unfold the old cloth and get a pinch of it in her palm. Tucking the remaining, back to the folds of the saree, she would then take her time to adjust that powder between the thumb and the index finger, ignore our staring eyes and set herself towards achieving her nirvana. With a deep breath, she would inhale that powder giving out the most terrifying, window-pane breaking, world-shattering, sneeze I have ever seen in my life so far. It seemed to give her all the super-natural powers to take on the rest of the day. And perform the most important task further on - which was to teach me one english word a day. Nothing disturbed this ritual for years together.



I must be 4 years old then, in my kindergarden. And Aau bai never went to school.  But she never budged from her loyalty towards the family and took it upon herself to contribute towards my general awareness. She had a peculiar accent and her own vocabulary for things. I was so awestruck by her! To me she was the Empress of my world. So undoubtedly her's was the final word. With her, I saw the most beautiful things which sounded ever more beautiful in her voice and version. She would say it in a rhythm and have me repeat it after her. One word per afternoon; while I was busy lapping up a bowl full of my favorite sweet 'n' sour mango pickles. Till date I remember every single thing she taught me. So much so that as I went to higher classes, my teachers and my parents together had a bigger task to first make me un-learn and then learn things as they really were! But learning was never as much fun again. I missed her classes. I missed her snuff. I missed the giggles. I missed her hoarse voice. I missed her antics. And I missed those rough, worn-out hands which patted me on every li'l achievement.


In the memory of The Aau Bai. To the beauty that was within.    

Photographs © Christie's