Recognizing the women of Khirkee resulted in a collection of recipes along with stories that tell the history of the village. Not only do the recipes tell of the variety of cooking performed in Khirkee daily, but they also carry the history of the village, its transformation from rural to urban, the origin of ingredients, along with stories of the people of the village.
Woman showing how to slize an brinjal.
Why do I need to go out? My home is my world.
A land which once upon a time had spaces demarcated for women in the public, spaces which women had made and governed for themselves. Be it the numerous wells which dotted around the Khirkee Village or the farms in which women worked the land at par with men. With the diminished usage of the land women’s spaces too become restricted to the indoors. “There are now water taps in our houses where we get flowing water … We don’t have farms to work on, we get vegetables at our doorstep. Why would we want to go out?”
With the disappearance of farming land and wells the public territory which women governed took away with it the spaces women had to meet or collect it. In its place we see spaces built and set up by men making the streets of Khirkee largely male dominated.
Do the women miss those spaces they had in the past we asked? “We miss our fields, we miss talking to our neighbors while ploughing the fields, but life is definitely more comfortable now.” Meena’s two room house on the second floor is very creatively done up inside. In the room where the women sit the tea cups have been stacked symmetrically in accordance with the design, as we sat in the room the women discussed what was yet to be bought for the wedding of one of the daughters which was coming up. As we sat talking to Meena’s family we asked them if they missed having a space where they could talk to other women. They said when they first got married and came to this village they all missed their families. The youngest daughter in law who had recently been married into the family nodded and said she would like to be a part of a women’s collective.
woman writing recipe.
Our search to find or to bring about a women’s collective led us to make a recipe book. Walking around collecting recipes from women almost always made a collective form with women debating and discussing how a particular dish was made.
In our search for recipes in Khirkee women’s collectives were formed inadvertently, women joined debating, discussing, reminiscing and telling stories of the old days. A space was formed. Our search for women’s spaces in the Public led us to re contextualize the thinning line between the Public and the Private – the “Public as the Private?”.
The work resulted in a cookbook; the Khirkee Cookbook, which was distributed on the final day of the workshop. The cookbook contains recipes connected to women living in Khirkee along with stories of their lives. The recipes do not tell only of daily routines, but reveals the past of the village, related to vegetables and changing prices.
Two happy women.