“Art, according to me, is present in everything around us. To me it is cooking first and then comes poetry or rather dare I say that food is interrelated to everything that I love doing and am passionate about?
I am from Agra, the city where Meer and Ghalib were born. Poetry has been a part of my life. It started with my Nana Ji teaching me the Bhagavad Gita and has been a continuous journey ever since. Poetry is the only thing that keeps me humane. My childhood was nothing extraordinary. It was the same as any other kid during the 90’s. Since I studied in an army school, I was taught to ask questions no matter how uncomfortable and difficult they might be. I am from a Brahmin family and like most North Indian Brahmin men, I couldn’t voice out what I wanted to do with my life so I ended up doing engineering because my father said so. It was in college that I came across theatre and I joined it instantly because engineering never could hold my interest. I would work with the lights and set designs as well as help people with their makeup. I had my own makeup kit throughout my 7 years with theatre. I even got two awards for my acting. During the same time, I started the YashPal Center along with Agra Book club and worked closely with the Taj Literature Festival. I also discovered my love for cooking around this time. I have also curated India’s first inter disciplinary Space Museum in Hyderabad.
My interest in poetry and astronomy piqued when I was 13 years of age and believe it or not, It is while cooking that I have come up with the best of ideas and it was during cooking that my life took unimagined turns. For example, the idea of starting an Astronomy Winter School in Agra came to my mind when I was making Butter paneer Masala and talking about Pasta to my then professors. When it comes to curating the Space Museum, it was when I was having lunch at Birla Science Center when YVN Krishnamurthy and Dr. Siddharth came up to me and asked me if I would like to curate a space museum and I knew nothing about curating! But, I did my research, spoke to people, visited museums and eventually, I made it happen. Talking about celestial bodies and food have always been a good combination.
People miss out on opportunities because we are afraid of the unknown, of something new. But, I am not afraid. Where people see it as conflict of interest, I see it as evolution. I believe the most challenging part is making people understand new narratives. Look at this world of ours and what has happened to it because people don’t want to break out of their archaic construct. It’s a post colonial world. We need to get out of the hangover of the past, don’t you think so?”
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