“Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls.”
(Excerpt from ‘Where the mind is without fear’ – by Rabindranath Tagore).
Fear; we’ve all felt it. Fear for ourselves, fear for others, fear for the future. It’s a really powerful and unsettling feeling. It can make us feel sick, panicked, stressed. It has the ability to make us turn cold towards others. To put up isolating barriers.
History tells us that in times of fear and uncertainty, it’s all too common for this to happen – for people to turn away from one another. The sentiment expressed by Pastor Martin Niemöller in his poem “First they came for…” is no less relevant today – when fear and intolerance threaten to divide us.
Never before has the need to break down barriers been more important.
Tagore wrote his iconic poem ‘Where the mind is without fear’ in 1900. In it, he sketched his vision of the nation he wanted India to be. He dreamt of an awakened country where freedom of the mind and spirit would remove all fear of ‘the other’. Where differences of caste, creed, religion or any other prejudices aren’t cause for division and separation.
Five years later, in 1905, he witnessed the British try to break up Bengal on the basis of religion. In one move, a close-knit community of Hindus and Muslims would be pulled apart and set against each other.
Rather than allow his beloved country to be divided, Rabindranath-ji made a stand for unity by invoking the spirit of Raksha Bandhan (in Sanskrit, ‘the knot of protection’). He asked the people of Bengal to take to the streets and tie rakhis on one another as a vow of protection and mutual respect between Hindus and Muslims. The statement was clear: Do not divide us. We are all brothers and sisters here.
We wholeheartedly share in Rabindranath-ji’s vision, and we believe it is now our turn to say: Do not divide us. We are all brothers and sisters here.
So last Raksha Bandhan we made our own call for unity. Every person that visited our cafés on the day of Raksha Bandhan was offered a rakhi – white, as a symbol of peace – and invited to tie it on someone of a different faith, nationality or culture, as a vow of solidarity and protection.
Tying one of these rakhis created a bond, which meant that you would stand up for that person, regardless of who they are or where they are from.
The bonds that were tied last year, still exist now and hold a deep and important significance for us all. They show that we are all committed – bonded – together to protect and care for one another; that tolerance and compassion visibly outweigh intolerance and prejudice; and that we choose to support each other and celebrate our differences, rather than be divided by them.
We can think of few more apt things to do at this time and so this year, we’re celebrating Raksha Bandhan again and inviting you all to tie rakhis on one another. We hope to see as many of you (if not more!) joining us as we strengthen the bonds that bind us.
The phone keeps ringing shrilly through the flat. Nauzer holds his head in his hands, palms clamped over his ears. “Beta, the phone!” He forgot his mother would still be here. He can’t have her answering in case it is Devia. He runs into the corridor to pick it up. It stops just before he can reach it. Breathless, he looks up and sees his mother in the kitchen.
Tucked away in a lovely corner of Wood Wharf, Dishoom Canary Wharf is now officially open and ready to welcome you all. The marble-top bar is ready to hold your drink, the textured, patterned (and extremely comforting) chairs are waiting to be kept warm and the hand-painted mural and carefully curated art – from Bombay and beyond – are waiting to be part of your conversations.
This chicken biryani is our homage to Britannia’s chicken berry pulao, using cranberries in place of the more authentic Persian barberries, which are tricky to find. (Despite much cajoling, Mr Kohinoor has never shared his wife’s famous recipe.) It is prepared in the kacchi style, originating from Hyderabad, in which marinated raw meat goes into the pot, to be cooked at the same time as the rice.
No party is complete without some delectable pours to toast the host with the most. For the crafty amongst us, bring out the shakers and strainers and the channel knife and pour your energy into building our festive concoction – The Taj Ballroom Toddy. A warming tipple inspired by The Taj Mahal Palace hotel, where Bombay’s jazz age was born.