Maska Bun and Migration: Irani Cafes of Bombay

2019

" One needs to appreciate the Irani cafés while there is still a chance. Step in, grab a quaint corner, enjoy the bun maska dipped in chai and the other delicacies they have to offer. Maybe grab a flavoured soda or two and get submerged in the slow-paced Bombay of the seventies and eighties."

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"I focused my documentation on the smaller Irani cafes in Bombay. Mapping these structures was an eye-opener for me and I realised how the Iranian community has enriched the multicultural fabric of the city, not only through their cuisine but also through their Zoroastrian faith which is amply represented in the cafes. The cafes are not just restaurants, but cultural spaces where the Iranis have preserved their collective memories of Iran in the form of newspaper cuttings, flags, family photographs and vintage photographs of Persepolis, the ancient capital of Persia. While interacting with the owners, I became acquainted with the sheer tenacity that allows them to continue with the cafes and bakeries against all odds, and their deep love for the art of baking and serving their loyal clientele."

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© Aakriti Chandervanshi

"Food not only provides us gastronomic gratification, but also a great convergence of cultural narratives. By investigating food, we can trace trade routes, human migrations, climate change, religious practices, innovations in science and technology, and a range of other factors which affect the production, distribution and consumption of different cuisines. Food can also influence architecture, as evident from Aakriti Chandervanshi's documentation of the Irani Cafes of Bombay. Through her Sahapedia Frames Photography Grant, she visually documents the collective memory Parsis and Iranis have for their ancient homeland in Iran and their Zoroastrian faith, while at the same time adapting European influences, and catering to the changing demographics of Bombay."

- Sahapedia, 2019

Recipient of the Sahapedia Grant for Photography 2019

Mentored by Dinesh Khanna, Edited by Ayan Mukherjee

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Stills for Title Sequence (2020) Short Film 'New Bombay Cafe'

Official Selection, Mumbai Film Festival 2018 (MAMI)

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