8 th January 2021. The year had already given me a kick start, with good times with a handful of beautiful companions and friends. It was this day that brought new ideas for my work. It was open studio for the 7 days workshop organized by Doare Studio at Rangutia, Bamutia, Tripura.
The First Day
We started from Kolkata for Tripura in the morning. Since childhood, I knew this place as one of the states in North East but had never been there. While waiting for my friends at the airport departure, I googled my location out of inquisitiveness. According to the satellite image, I was standing almost right in line with Kolkata; just that there was a country between my city and my location - Bangladesh. My in-laws were from there, from that other country. We started our journey for Rangutia, Gopa’s parental home. After we reached her home and our base for the workshop, we went out for a walk. Within a few yards, we saw the border which was watching us; rather protecting us from the ‘intruders’ of ‘another’ country. A country with the same language, same food habits, same ancestors – essentially the same roots.
Next Few Days
Two countries, three places. Kolkata, Bangladesh and Tripura. We were residing side by side with ‘borders’ and ‘securities.’ During these I was experiencing a lot of age old practices which we usually cannot fancy about in our urban life. Gopa has a big family, and they live together in the same house. They have a kitchen with two chulhas, one for vegetarian and the other is for non-vegetarian cooking. I was enjoying cooking in both the chulhas, and I was soon discovered to be the foodie enjoying both kinds of food. This kitchen taught me that unlike our city lives, a kitchen can bring lucidity to our concept of ‘family’. It did not invite people, but nobody was an outsider in it. It had a door which was ajar at most times, and the people I found there were like an extended family. This brought a few questions to my mind regarding the relevance of border? Where should it be drawn? Should it be operated by our system just because they need it to rule? And most importantly why do we really need it?
We, humans, have invented a lot and we lost lot more. I am of course not suggesting the use of old technology while a more sophisticated version is available. I was just mesmerized by the beauty of the handmade Chulha over there. People use clay to make a Chulha which is a work of art in itself. The Chulha that caught my eyes had four holes to cook and a different hole to set fire to it. It creates a beautiful fascinating pentagonal construction. I decided to learn how to make chulha in the workshop.
“Ogo Parashi balo Kalyan”
A line from Joy Goswami’s poetry came to my mind while travelling to Gopa’s house on the first day. We were travelling just alongside the Bangladesh border, which was once our own country and now unfortunately, our neighbor. In the poem the poet shares his good wishes with his neighbours. I decided to write those few words beside the Chulhas, just to wish the beautiful neighbour and our neighbouring country all the good things in life. The few days of the workshop I spent making chulhas, the extended family members came together to help me. During the working process what I loved the most was to give answers to the inquisitive questions of the people around; and I do not know when or how but it slowly become ‘their’ work. It became ‘our’ work.