Friday, June 12, 2009

Design and Context

Once upon a time....

as every story begins. But this does not.

Mulla Nasrudin, as everyone knows comes from a country where fruit is fruit, meat is meat, and curry is never eaten.

One day he was plodding along a dusty Indian road, having newly descended from the high mountains of Kafiristan, when a great thirst overtook him. 'Soon' he said to himself, 'I must come across somewhere that good fruit is to be had.'

No sooner were the words formed in his brain than he rounded a corner and saw sitting in the shade of a tree a benevolent-looking man, with a basket in front of him.

Piled high in the basket were huge, shiny red fruits. 'This is what I need', said Nasrudin. Taking two tiny coppers from the knot at the end of his turban, he handed them to the fruit seller.

Without a word, the man handed him the whole basket, for this kind of fruit is cheap in India, and people usually buy it in smaller amounts.

Nasrudin sat in the place vacated by the fruiterer, and started to munch the fruits. Within a few seconds, his mouth was burning. tears streamed down his cheeks, fire was in his throat.
The Mulla went on eating.

An hour or two passed, and then an Afgan hill man came past. Nasrudin hailed him. 'Brother, these infidel fruits must come from the very mouth of Sheitan!'

'Fool', said the hill man. 'Hast thou never heard of the chillies of Hindustan?
Stop eating them at once, or death will surely claim a victim before the sun is down.'

'I cannot move from here', gasped the Mulla, 'untill I have finished the basketful.'

'Madman! Those fruits belong in curry! Throw them away at once.'

'I am not eating fruit any more,'croaked Nasrudin, 'I am eating my money.'

Eating his Money
(From the book Thinking Design by S. Balaram)

Interesting story! And the moral of the story is indeed very beautifully illustrated.
Design and its context is like figure and ground for an artist. One has no relevance without the other. If the design changes, the context has to change and vice versa.
Amongst many examples of design and context, I would like to share a hilarious personal example of the 'Pani Puri in Tamil Nadu'.

Pani Puri in Karur, Tamil Nadu
(Karur is a town in Tamil Nadu famous for its home textiles majorly targeting the export market)

Easwaran Temple in Karur

The pani puri or gol gappa/puchka/gup chup as called in some other Indian languages is street side preparation mainly from north India. (Wiki explains the pani puri here)

Now, Karur, being in the Tam land, does wish to have the north Indian pani puri, in the southest of India. -->Why not? Like you get the idli and dosa all over India. Not only India, but our fellow south Indians have made a place for south Indian food all over the world, with a ‘Hotel Kamath’ in Singapore and many such more. Microsoft has many south Indians. Every time I open Adobe Photoshop, I read south Indian names. Oh! I am proud of them!

Now coming back to the pani puri...
The tam version of pani puri is kind of like this: Crushed puris, with a lot of chole (chana) curry, without a tangy taste, and garnished with grated carrots instead of coriander. Served in a plate and to be eaten with a spoon. It was an EXPERIENCE! BIG TIME! I laughed my brain out! Hilarious, really! (Unfortunately I do not have an image of the same. Will try to get it the next time.)
I kind of not much liked it, definitely its not pani puri (for me and many others), but yes it is the pani puri for Karurites. People love it! No issues! Yes, it is the Karur customized pani puri, the pani puri in another context! Context changes, design also changes.
Similar is in the case of Chinese food in India- The Indian version of Chinese, which it actually is. I have learnt from others experiences that eating the actual Chinese from China is next to impossible (at least for a veggie like me). And what about Maggie, the one we all love! Each of us have a self-customized version of maggie, isn't it?

Well, food, in-general is a very good example of design. There is a lot to learn from it. Its multi-sensory! So eat it, think it and explore it!


Neelam Prabhu Gaonker said... [Reply]

so soooo is the best parameter for understanding context in design...n what better place to study that than aapnu manek chowk... :D

aayushi said... [Reply]

well said aarti.....n d example is so perfect... :)

Aarti Badamikar said... [Reply]

its the FOOD for LIFE!! :D

aayushi said... [Reply]

jst luv d story.......well composed.....dnt knw u r so gud at copywritng......

aayushi said... [Reply]

hehehehe sorry dnt read d was really impressed.......:)

Dushyant said... [Reply]

Hi! I just cant imagine the taste of tam pani puri. Anyway good comparison and ur thinking is too good.