Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Key to the Alternate Present

Right after reading the forgotten map by Manfred Max-Neef, I really needed some time jus to sit back and think about what he was trying to say. It is indeed very thought provoking. It gives a key or guide to answering the few main questions of Life and our existence on this planet, which every man has come up against, some ignore while others try to seek out the information or may I say knowledge. Manfred takes us through a small journey back in time where we discuss meanings related to terms “Decision”, “Direction” and “Reason”. Manfred even counters the same will of a man’s journey towards knowledge, in this case, our existence, and shows us that there are some things more important than knowledge if we want to realize the truth.
Manfred first discusses how we got here. “Here” in terms of Time. How important was the journey here? Well, after I had a read through, I’ll say It is as important and précis as it gets. In a nutshell, An action, statement or say even a word could have changed you, your beliefs and also your very existence. One tiny little change in the past would make hell of a difference in our time. Therefore a small change you make now makes a huge change in the future. As Spanish Philosopher José Ortega y Gasset had said “I am myself and my circumstance.”
12th century, Italy, Giovanni Bernardone or shall I say Francis of Assisi referred to a world full of love and relation within every being. Man would have had feelings for all that is there around us. But a little later in Italy, Machiavelli’s stated “It is much safer to be feared than to be loved” . He had made a statement sharing his views. But he had actually created a new world, a new direction. The gravity of the situation makes a huge impact when we think of it now. The reason? Well we chose to follow Machiavelli and thus came up with concepts for our social, political and economical concerns.
Giovanni Francesco Pico della Mirandola faced this world, but wanted to attain spiritual renovation and believed it could reconcile humanity. Did he set a new path? Not really. Francis Bacon suggested we explore nature. The more we unravel about the nature the more we unravel about ourselves. Now the people chose to believe this, and from then on research and knowledge was everything needed to know. But Giordano Bruno in 1600 AD believed that Earth and everything in it had life, that earth had a soul. Was it going to make a change?
There was change, but it was towards the path lead by René Descartes who had said “What I see through my window are hats and coats covering automatic machines.” as a result we have witnessed the triumph of mechanism and reductionism. From then on scientists, mathematicians, physicists and inventors were on the high. The Earth became a playground for science. Man was overcome by the wonderful feeling when he had discovered something new. Man started reasoning more, knowledge was power, science was the beginning and the end.
But Goethe, known more for his literary works than his successful pursuits in the field of science felt upset with the limitations of the Newtonian physics. For Goethe, “science is as much an inner path of spiritual development as it is a discipline aimed at accumulating knowledge of the physical world. It involves not only a rigorous training of our faculties of observation and thinking, but also of other human faculties which can attune us to the spiritual dimension that underlies and interpenetrates the physical: faculties such as feeling, imagination and intuition.” Science, as Goethe conceived and practiced it, has as its highest goal the arousal of the feeling of wonder through contemplative looking, in which the scientist would come to see God in Nature and Nature in God.
Now I could say that the path which we have chosen compared to the path shown by Bernardone, Francesco Pico, Giordano Bruno and Goethe, They are two different worlds. How vast the difference would have been.
But take the world we live in. We have reached science’s limitations almost. We have concepts to economize our lives. Systems to maintain balance. But are we successful entirely? Manfred points out that man is still missing something. He feels poor, and what Manfred is trying to implicate is that man lacks spiritual power. He compares the situation to love. We can have numerous studies on love from many perspectives. But scientifically we only attain knowledge, but not understanding. We have to experience love to understand it. Thus Manfred points out that the completeness of our being might rely on the relation between science and spiritualism. Science makes man think, gives him a medium to explore. Man might have just not explored spirituality yet. Now even thought man had a balanced approach towards this point there is still poverty, war and many other hazards. What if another path had actually found ways of bringing truth and peace through understanding.
That is what Manfred makes us realize. Our pursuit of knowledge has postponed our navigation towards understanding. Maybe the inner peace that Goethe is talking about might actually help in solving the confusions through attaining understanding of everything around us. He also proposes an idea to change the language. What if man realized the miracle of life, his perceptions would change drastically. This change could make a beginning, A new path.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Tiffin Story


Tiffin carriers or dabbas are a kind of lunch box used widely in India for tiffin meals. Normally they come in two to three-tiers. Tiffin carriers are opened by unlocking a small catch on either side of the handle, then removing it.

It is very simple product, yet highly significant and efficient, with a basic purpose of storing and transporting food, a product which is easily affordable, and without any question, a product which is a part and parcel of every Home/Kitchen.

With the opening up of more and more restaurants, dhabas, canteens, messes and fast foods in every part of the world, the practice of “carrying food” has greatly reduced.

The Beginning:

In Indian context, the concept/idea of transporting/storing food dates back to the mythology of Mahabharat.

Lord Krishna used to steal butter from stacked pots hanging from the ceiling. During olden times, long ago when there was no use of metal vessels, mud pots were extensively used to prepare, store as well as transport food. Starting from bigger size, the next smaller sized pots are filled with food and stacked in size order.

For this purpose, coconut fibre is woven into a thick and firm ring of sorts, and a tight rope passes through 3 equidistant points in the ring, to form a cone when lifted. Now the pots, whose rims are covered securely by cloth, are stacked over the ring in size order. This whole thing can now be lifted by the rope over long distances.

Generally Indian women used to conveniently carry the stacked pots on their heads using the ring. In additional to that, storing food in mud pots is desirable due to their properties, especially water and other liquids.

So the whole process of stacking up food in containers is inspired from this. This tells us that the highly useful Tiffin carriers we use everyday have their root connections to a period since myth began.

Traditional Indian Kitchens:

Cooking vessels were not so sophisticated many years ago in India; though the food that came out of those traditional kitchens was as delicious, aromatic and flavourful, or maybe more.

Traditional kitchens had a distinctive but simple range of kitchenware. Still the number of spices and condiments stored in such a kitchen needs a veteran cook to expertise on. Many of these utensils are still an integral part of Indian kitchens. One of them is the Tiffin carrier.
Home and Kitchen: -

· The first thing which comes to our mind when we consider an Indian kitchen is the transition from a contemporary kitchen to a modular one.
· Whatever are the changes in an Indian kitchen, the richness and variety of food and ingredients remain the same.
· Do these changes affect the usage of tiffin carriers to any extent?

Let’s take a look at the transition of Indian kitchens:

Contemporary Indian Kitchen:

· The use of traditional, ancient kitchen implements, vessels and other utensils are still in sound use today not only in urban parts of the nation, but also in rural cities.
· The very significance of the implements like stone grinders, stone wares, brass utensils and tiffin carriers, etc. add a touch to the taste of the food in order to retain the Indian-ness of food.

Taste of Food:

· The change in usage of brass utensils and tiffin carriers to aluminium and stainless steel (SS) due to its heaviness, rare availability and high cost, has made a direct impact to the taste of food.
· Nowadays, SS is preferred to aluminium because of its soft metal properties, high corrosiveness to heat and its toxic nature.
· But as far as the taste is concerned, the delicious touch to the food is not retained when one opens an SS carrier, when compared to a brass carrier.
· A major Indian population have adapted themselves to a colonial range of food. Ex: - A South Indian would prefer to stick to his colonial thali rather than the north Indian thali in routine life.
· Indian authentic traditional platter is purely vegetarian.
· And colonial food culture is in turn affected by the availability of crops grown, cultivated lands, history and geography of the place, as India has a rich and ancient culture.
· We always prefer a particular range of routine traditional and colonial food to satisfy out regular appetite.
· And as far as tiffin carriers are concerned, the kind of food packed in them invariably change from state to state within the country.
· With the advent of Western food culture and more and more Indians getting adapted to it, isn’t it obvious that the significance of Carriers is depleting?

Context and Viewpoint:

· Let us look at the tiffin carrier with a Zoom out viewpoint.
· We find Stainless Steel carriers constantly being opened, used and assembled with respect to various contexts such as Lunchtime, working people, labourers, office going people, school going children, and occasional events like Festivals, Picnics, tourists, visits, etc.
· With such a massive usage of this product in day to day life, more and more industries are interested in this object‘s manufacture in mass production, to suit everyone of all economic standards.
· All this brings in variety in tiffin carriers that were, are being and will be manufactured.
· Another important context where we find the carrier is the “Dabbawallas”. Day in and day out they transport the precious food safely and on time, being a big helping hand to Human Society.


· Antique tiffin carriers made out of precious material such as Gold, Silver or Brass, and decorated with fine intricacy and richness, and portraying the influence of Asian Art is no more a part of daily usage or manufacture.
· These rare artefacts are either showcased or treasured in museums/libraries.
· The priority of the society for food and kitchen tools, especially women during the early times was very high.
· The designs, styles and techniques such as gold lacing, enamel paints, stone studded, floral prints and motifs, nature inspired shapes and forms were used to ornament the exterior of the carriers, when the interiors were kept as simple as possible, for convenience and cleaning purposes.
· Even the locking mechanism was heavily stylized, and it had the simple spoon fitting system (the spoon was beautifully ornamented).
· Today, the industries aim at providing this extremely valuable product to the general public of all economic classes which has resulted in the present form and function of the carrier today.

Colonial Encounter:

· A very interesting point about tiffin carriers in an article about the Raffles Hotel, Singapore – March 18th 2006 gives us an overview of its history:

“We have come for tiffin, and according to the sign outside, we are at the right place. This is the Tiffin Room at Raffles Hotel in Singapore - a starched white room with high ceilings and chandeliers, evoking a decadent colonial past.

The food is kind of colonial. "Is this tiffin?"

"Not really, most people think it's got something to do with Tiffany but it comes from the carriers - over there, at the end of the room."

Up on the wall, behind the chef's white hat, is a display case of brightly painted cans. They look like saucepans stacked one on top of the other, and their purpose is - or was - to carry food, keeping it hot or cold and free of flies.

The Raffles tiffin carriers have a history. Sourced from antique shops locally and overseas, the carriers recall a tradition that the British adopted from India and brought with them to Singapore.

When the Raffles Hotel opened, in 1887 - named after Sir Stamford Raffles, the British colonist and founder of London Zoo, who claimed Singapore for the British East India Company in 1824 - tiffin carriers were in common use.

With two, three or four tiers and decorated with enamel paint, they were used to carry food from kitchens to workplaces or on long journeys, keeping it fresh on the way.

By the mid to late 19th century the word "tiffin" had come to mean lunch. A light lunch - often curry - served about midday. In 1899, "Tiffin Curry" was a regular on the menu at Raffles.

Tiffin carriers are still common in India - used by contract caterers or those who prefer to cook and carry their own - but in Singapore's Indian quarter, Little India, they have become few and far between.

Tiffin carrying was popular until the 1960s - "I'll tiffin it back" meant the same as "I'll grab a takeaway" - but it is the Chinese, who have adopted the tradition today, claiming it was theirs all along.

"Some carriers are very plain, some are very elaborate," explains Ron Shing, an antiques dealer with one carrier that should be in the glass case at Raffles, it looks so similar to those on display.

"Some people carry them to weddings, or to the temple. With the Silk Road and the trade routes through India and China, it's hard to know who discovered them first."

The origin of tiffin carriers is debatable but there is no doubt as to what they have become. More airtight, but lacking the decor of their ancestors, today's aluminium "food carriers" are freely available from pottery shops in Chinatown.

It is more reliable for preserving your picnic lunch. You can buy a small one for about $10. Fill it with takeaway curry and have tiffin with no frills. Or go to Raffles, where the tiffin experience is served on china plates and the carriers are only on display.”
· During the British rule in India (The East India Company), after the Industrial Revolution, it might have been possible that the first mechanised Tiffin Carrier was manufactured?

The impact of Lifestyle:

· With the attack of western culture into the east, a great deal of changes has happened over the few years. The material world has set in. Economy, infrastructure, fashion, trends, quick life, etc. are the main criteria of this changing world.
· Lifestyle has not only changed the physical living, but has also added to the views of the people. Time being one of the most important factors today; a working woman wouldn’t spend a lot of time in the kitchen.
· We feel that in such a fast forward world, the necessity of carriers makes it simpler for us, as far as packing and transporting food is concerned.

Modular Kitchen:

· Unlike any contemporary traditional Indian kitchen, in today’s city life, the major population prefers the completely designed Modular kitchens, not knowing that they still lack the fulfilment of an ideal Indian kitchen, however modern they are.
· A modular kitchen will look simple, seem simple, aesthetically designed for the cook’s comfort, proper spacing and lighting, use of artificial, long lasting materials, and all, but it is the most complicated task for the cook to organise, remember and sort out the kitchen items individually for his/her convenience, especially in such a kitchen.
· The Indian touch and taste to the whole process of cooking is enveloped by an artificial hi-fi sense of making food using all kinds of gadgets and artificial processes.
· This actually saves a lot of time, especially for working women nowadays, but it has affected the food habits, the adaptability to many kinds of food, and taste of food to a great extent.
· It’s actually a more hectic job to maintain a modular kitchen than a normal Indian kitchen.
· A modular kitchen uplifts the economic status and standard of living of that home.
· Well what we need is the sophisticated simplicity of a modular kitchen, Indian touch of cooking, designed more towards the cooking of Indian cuisine.
· Modular kitchen has made a great impact on the manufacturing of tiffin carriers.

How does a Modular kitchen affect Tiffin Carrier?

· It’s obvious that through this evolution of the kitchen, the INDIAN also has evolved.
· When one wants one’s kitchen to be designed elaborately, one would also want one’s kitchen implements like the Tiffin Carrier to be re-designed according to the modern age.
· Stainless steel industries not only in India, but also abroad are considering this product with high priority as the market demands for it more and more. Well in India and China, everyone already knows its importance and necessity.
· Well as far as any Indian home is concerned, modular or contemporary, old or new, the carrier always has its simple yet high significance. It’s just in today’s lifestyle, people are very conscious about user time, style and appearance of the carrier and it’s pricing.
· And fortunately, the carrier has its advantages at all these levels.

Health and Hygiene:

· Today’s Stainless steel carrier manufactures make sure ISO standard steel is used in their manufacture. Even the forms and overall shape of the carrier is enhanced in order to ensure easy cleaning, and maintenance of a carrier.
· But generally when a metal carrier is concerned, it is in no way any harm to the environment, on the other hand it reduces the usage of plastic food packaging.
· And a tiffin carrier is the safest thing to eat from, always.


· We have seen how more significant it is in today’s life, yet why do we get the feeling that there is a decreasing priority of tiffin carriers.
· In earlier times, a carrier was the first thing that was thought of when storing or transporting food was a concern. Especially with Indian and Chinese women, they are very nostalgically attached to the carrier for what it does. These can be some of the reasons why the earlier manufactured carriers were heavily ornamented.
· With the advent of fast foods, restaurants and packaged food systems, there has been a direct impact on the priorities of a carrier.
· Have the priorities changed over the other modern implements and these changes today?
· Do we still appreciate and acknowledge the fact of the significance, beauty of the tiffin carriers for what they are and what they do?

Technology/ Manufacture:

· Earlier, brass carriers were hand-beaten over moulds.
· Then came aluminium which is an abundant soft metal, cheap, but unhygienic to eat from in the long run.
· Since the Industrial Revolution, more and more stainless steel industries have come up converting the aluminium carriers into hard metal stainless steel, which is perfectly safe for the health, even in the long run.
· Mechanised processes and latest manufacturing techniques with high precision save manufacturing time and enhance the quality and precision of the product, etc.
· With the integration of new processes and techniques, the form, colour, material, and the tiffin carrier as a whole changes according to the market demand and target customers.

Evolution of form:

· The whole concept of stacking up vertically thus saving space has given rise to the basic form of the tiffin carrier.
· Later concerns relating to size, convenience, etc. have added to the evolution of its form.
· The tiffin carrier we see today is all about identical containers individually stacked one upon another fastened by a lock-handle mechanism, which has also evolved over the period of time.
· The rich decorated and ornamented forms have transformed into simple mass produced SS carriers. The essence of the rich decoration has today been replaced by the elegant simplicity of the product.


· Brass carriers are ideal for the purpose, but expensive which ultimately led to the use of Aluminium as a material.
· But as aluminium is unhygienic and toxic to health on the long run, they have been replaced by Stainless steel.
· As industries prefer SS due to its cheap production and processing, SS have become ideal for today’s world.
· Today starting from the container to the lid, lock- mechanism, and handle, SS is used for the manufacture.
· With more and more research and technology coming up, tiffin carriers are also made using Melamine, which is non-toxic, scratchproof, heat resistant and insulator, easy to clean and maintain, weightless, aesthetically appealing, but expensive. E.g.:
Remmerco tiffin carrier (England) made of white gastronom melamine priced at INR 800/-

· Tomorrow, carriers may also be manufactured in ceramic (porcelain), like the vintage carrier, and porcelain being an amazing material for the purpose; it beats all other materials in use. With the use of Porcelain in carriers, one can also provide glazing and other surface designs to enhance their priority in today’s world.

Techniques and Processes:

· Since ages, the basic vertical form of a carrier has remained the same, but the locking mechanism has undergone changes.
· Initially, the lock system of the carrier was such that from the bottommost container, 2 thin vertical bars arise from the opposite sides. These bars run parallel to the carrier upwards. At the lid, they bend towards each other to form a handle. Both the bars have holes at the handle through which a metal spoon is fitted, in order to make the bars stay in position to be able to carry.
· Industrial manufacture no more use moulds or jigs for production. Automated CNC lathe machines and others have created a revolution in the production techniques.
· Nowadays, in order to keep the food hot for quite a longer period, hot-bags and hot packs have been introduced.
· The concept of Thermal Insulation (materials used to reduce the rate of heat transfer, or the methods and processes used to reduce heat transfer) came to India only during the 1970’s. With this industries like Eagle and Milton came up with hot packs.
· Vacuum flask cooking was introduced to the Asian market in the mid-1990s. The vacuum cooker is a stainless steel vacuum flask. The flasks come in various sizes ranging from 20-40 cm (8-16 in) in diameter and 25 cm (10 in) tall. A removable pot, with handle and lid, fits inside the vacuum flask. The pot and contents are heated to cooking temperature, and then sealed in the flask. The flask simply reduces heat loss to a minimum, so that the food remains at cooking temperature for a long time, and cooks without continued heating. Note that the food is not cooked in a vacuum. It is cooked inside a vacuum flask. The hollow evacuated wall of the cooker thermally insulates its contents from the environment, so they remain hot for several hours.
· A hot bag consists of insulated rexin cloth from the inside, which is stitched to a tough material outside with a long wrap handle for convenience. A hot bag keeps the food warm enough for at least 5 hours.
· Whereas a hot pack is an insulated plastic vessel with a lid, and it keeps the food warm for a greater time.
· There are also electric hot case tiffin carriers, where an electric heating system is internally available in the hot-pack. So one can heat up food later also for half an hour before the meal.

Changes in Form/Colour:

· As we have already seen how the rich, decorated and ornamented carriers, even though they are treasured today, have been replaced by the aesthetically elegant simplicity.
· The basic cylindrical form is also played with, modifying it into slightly different forms.
· In the new carriers, every container has a lid. The product is today admired for the Stainless steel shine, rounded edges, ergonomically designed handles and locking mechanism, user sensitivity, and the long lasting effect of its clear shine.
· Earlier, including the Chinese carriers, a lot of floral, mythical and natural motifs were engraved or enamelled on them. This raised the importance of the carrier, brought in nostalgic moments to the user, transformed it into a product of extreme beauty, and also enhanced the cultural impact on them.
· The colour of the carriers is usually stainless steel silver, but different user groups prefer metal paints of various colours on them.
· With the packaging of carriers using hot-packs or hot-bags, the external appearance of the hot-packs and hot-bags are aesthetically designed.


· Tiffin carriers nowadays come as a lunch box set, along with spoons, forks, water bottle, etc. all packed in a zipped hot-bag neatly. This is one way of the Industrialist to attract customers as well.
· For example, let’s see a company’s profile:
Swanmac/Lunchmate is India’s first Stainless steel vacuumised tiffin carrier.

Made with the highest grade of stainless steel- AISI 304 (Salem Stainless Steel), Lunchmate is hygienic and very durable. It is vacuum insulated.Features:
· Avoid storing hot and cold food items together.
· Remove the inner containers and store ice cubes in the outer case.
· Boil milk. Allow it to warm. Add little curd. Transfer into Lunchmate and fix the lid as usual. Curd sets faster in Lunchmate.
· Lunchmate should be cleaned with warm soap water. No other precautions are necessary. When not in use, keep the lid open.
· Sizes: 2,3,4,5 containers.

· Packaging has become a very important factor for SS industries also. Thus packaging not only encases the carrier, but also adds a brand value to it, enhances the features to attract the customers and also gives protection to the carrier.


· Advertisements of Ever silver marts give the public a general idea of all Stainless Steel wares, including Tiffin Carriers.
· The World Wide Web has enabled online shopping, e- ads, search engines providing information, and many more related to the purchase of a Carrier. E.g.: E-Bay, Amazon, online Bazaar, etc.
· The basic awareness of a tiffin carrier in market is done by Branding.


· Industries look at producing better carriers at lower costs. And since the competition is very high, they employ all possible methods to save money, by adding in new forms, more mass production, cheaper but sustainable material, choosing suitable production techniques, etc.
· They aim at minimum wastage of material, minimum usage of power, labour and maximum production and attract maximum dealers. All this is possible with new enhanced designs, new forms, better user interface, and better ergonomics and a dazzling appearance to the tiffin carrier, giving it a whole new dimension.
· Carriers are available in the market for all standards of people, from the poor, the middle class, and the upper middle class to the rich (categorisation done only for understanding).
· Depending upon the number of containers, the quality and company of the stainless steel and the lock system, etc. the tiffin carriers are priced. Generally the carriers come in 3, 4 or 5 containers in stainless steel.
· A very conventional stainless steel tiffin carrier of 4 containers would cost around INR 175-250/- Such carriers are mass produced and sold to the wholesalers who in turn sell them to the retailers.
· With the introduction of Hot-bags and hot-packs, the rates have drastically gone up.

Foreign Exchange:

· A lot of export of tiffin carriers happens in India, and Indian stainless steel experts also go abroad and work for their tiffin carrier production.
· In some cases, foreign industries visit India just to know about the product, its manufacturing techniques and processes…
· Foreign industries have also seen its significance and necessity in their places as well, so they have their production of a variety of carriers available to all international customers.
· Online shopping is in boom, despite customs tax, shipping charges, and other charges.
· Its priority and awareness throughout the world gets highlighted with foreign exchange.

The Dabbawallas:

Tuesday, May 8th, 2007

The Financial Times reports on Mumbai’s dabbawallas, “an army of [5,000] men who deliver with faultless precision 200,000 meals to workers in the city direct from their homes in the suburbs using nothing but the city’s battered commuter railway system and bicycles.” (J. Leahy, “High-tech meets low-tech over lunch,” 8 May 2008.)

To fully appreciate the Dabbawallas’ achievements, a person first needs to see the rickety state of Mumbai’s infrastructure. A trip to the airport that should take 30 minutes can take two hours due to chronic congestion.

The trains are so overcrowded that people are frequently killed falling off the roofs of the carriages or being hit by poles alongside the tracks as they hang out of the doors. Monsoon rains regularly bring the city to a halt.

Yet none of this faces the dabbawallas. Daily, from about 9am, each dabbawalla collects a tiffin carrier – a tall, cylindrical, stacking metal food container loaded with different dishes – from 35 customers’ homes in the suburbs.

The colour-coded tiffin carriers are put in the luggage compartments of suburban trains and taken to the city, where the correct tiffin carriers are delivered to the correct individual customers starting at about 12.30pm, in time for lunch. From 1.15pm, the dabbawallas begin collecting the tiffin carriers again to deliver them back to individual customers’ homes, in a reversal of the whole process.

Like any successful corporation, the dabbawallas have a firmly entrenched culture and well-developed sense of mission and branding.
Founded in 1890, they claim to be descendants of the soldiers of Shivaji, the 17th century king who held off the Muslims in the area that is now the western state of Maharashtra, of which Mumbai is the modern capital.

Most of them are shareholders of the [Nutan Mumbai Tiffin Box Suppliers Charity] trust, drawing a monthly salary of about Rs5, 000.

“People recognize us by our Gandhi topi [hat] and our white kurta pyjama, which is our biggest brand,” says Mr Medge.*

While their average education is eighth grade, and many are illiterate, the dabbawallas have been given a Six Sigma performance rating of 99.999999 by consultants and a quality management system standard ISO 9001:2000 certificate. They claim to have an error rate of 1 in 16m.

*Mr. Raghunath D. Medge is president of the Nutan Mumbai Tiffin Box Suppliers Charity Trust.
Mr. Medge presented Prince Charles a tiffin carrier and a traditional Indian Dress for his wedding anniversary. Prince Charles being impressed visited India to invite him for the wedding feast at London.

Symbolic Life:

· Any Chinese or Indian woman, who spends a great deal of time in the kitchen, would consider a tiffin carrier as a very symbolic and memorable part of her life.
· When she sees a tiffin carrier, she would definitely miss a bit because it is one kitchen item that she cannot do without.
· Basically a carrier refers to the countries of India and China.
· It also symbolises delicious home made food that doesn’t upset your stomach. It symbolises Lunch time, afternoon, routine life, etc.

Failures/ Disadvantages:

· Plastic containers have been a great failure in concern with food packaging. They are no match to any tiffin carrier.
· Any alternative ware to the carrier like Tupper wares has been a failure.
· A carrier is a disadvantage when it strikes public areas with a bomb placed in it:

Ahmedabad, July 26
Blast inside AMTS bus claims one life, leaves eight critically injured.

A powerful tiffin blast that ripped apart the roof and floor of a CNG bus belonging to the Ahmedabad Municipal Transport Services (AMTS) claimed the life of one person and injured eight others. The blast occurred when the vehicle was passing through the sensitive Juhapura area opposite Amber Tower around 6.30 p m, the same time when serial blasts spread panic across the city.


Tiffin genius:

The One Stop Thali Cafe in Bristol has been selling these Mumbai tiffin carriers to their regulars - so they can get takeaways from the restaurant using them. They're £20 each (Inc your first meal) and they've sold about 1,500 in the last 18 months.

This is genius. In one fell swoop they've:

v Created genuine differentiation for the business
v Done something environmentally responsible
v Made a little bit of extra money
v Tied their customers a little closer to their business
v Won themselves some interesting PR
v Actually improved their service (tiffin carriers keep the food hotter for longer)

And they've done it in a way that's:

v Entirely authentic to their business and its heritage.
v Incredibly simple and charming (not some fiddly promotional thing with forms and vouchers).
v Generous and open - you can use your tiffin carrier at any restaurant.

Tiffin Post Box:

This is a yellow post-box which has been painted to resemble a giant antique tiffin carrier (food container).
Back in the olden years, people used this multi-tier container like a lunch box. What made it efficient was that different types of dishes such as rice, vegetables and meat could be carried around, each one compartmentalised into a separate tier.
The artists have painted on pretty floral patterns that make the post-box look really quaint. Spot it at keong saik road in Chinatown.

Clay tiffin Carrier:


Ceramic container, Tiffin Carrier II from the series "....these are a few of my favourite things", white earthenware, wheel thrown, assembled, terrasigillata slips / oxidation firing, Jaishree Srinivasan, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia, 1995

Straight cylindrical form consisting of (-2:3) two stacked bowls, on (-1) wide base sitting on three small inverted conical feet. On each side, a figure holding a vessel on their heads with squirrels sitting on their shoulders. Shaped handle with pointed knobs. (-4)Domed cover with looped knop and (-5) spoon-like clasp inserted horizontally through handle and knop on cover. Overall colour dark green with bands of white and orange. Designed by Jaishree Srinivasan, Canberra, 1995. Srinivasan was born in Madras, India in 1954, and educated in Tamilnadu at a convent of European nuns. She graduated in Fine Arts at the University of Madras in 1974, and subsequently trained in the United States and Australia, completing an Associate Diploma in Ceramics at the Canberra School of Art.

Our Information & Media Partners:


Ø My dear grandmother (Karur, Tamil Nadu)

Ø My Local Guardian (The Zaveri and co.)

Ø My mom (Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu)

Ø Extensive brainstorming

Ø My mom, dad and friends (Agartala, Tripura)

Ø The Financial Times

Ø Aakhash GV and Ratul Bhowmik



The decisions humanity has taken in the past have led us to believe we are in a state of global crisis. Perhaps we made erroneous choices. Or perhaps it is simply easier to consider a situation that could have been better had we chosen what we hadn’t chosen. A classic case of the grass being greener on the other side or does our present scenario truly warrant an alternative approach? Maybe it is time to navigate the other routes, the ones we discarded in favour of our current path of reductionist science and neo-liberal globalization.
“I am myself and my circumstance”, pointed out the great Spanish philosopher Jose` Ortega Y Gasset. The decision I take implies all the decisions I did not take. The route I choose is part of all the routes I did not choose. Life presents itself as an unending sequence of bifurcations. A few minutes earlier or later or a few meters away in any direction might well have determined a different bifurcation and hence, a completely different life. What holds for individual lives holds for communities and whole societies as well. People in the west are what they are but they could have just as well been what they are not. It becomes vital to reassess the decisive bifurcations…
Sometime during the 12th century in Italy, a young man named Giovanni Bernardone decided to radically change his life. As a result of his transformations, we remember him today under a different name: Francis of Assisi. When he referred to the world, Francis spoke of brother Sun and sister Moon, of brother Wolf; and of water, fire, trees and people as close kin. The world he described and felt was a world where love was not only possible but made sense and had a universal meaning.
Sometime later, also in Italy, the resounding voice of the brilliant and astute Machiavelli could be heard, warning us that “it is much safer to be feared than to be loved”. He also described a world, but in addition, he created a world. Ironically, today the connotation of his name occurs in the same breath as that of politically crafty (marked by cunning, duplicity, or bad faith). Perhaps a far cry from the astuteness this philosopher once stood for. The world we have today is that propagated through the eyes of Machiavelli. Francis is the route we did not navigate. We chose Machiavelli and today our social, political and economic conceptions are constructed from the same source.
We have accepted, even embraced fear as a means to dominate and essentially, to survive. What other ratiocination can we attribute to the dictatorial behavior of so-called super powers of our time? While disguised attempts to eradicate world poverty are promulgated, the very same nations display ostentatious disparities between the rich and the poor. At just twenty-three years of age, Giovanni Francesco Pico della Mirandola prepared himself for the public defence of 900 of his theses about the concord between the different religions and philosophies. Convinced that truths are multiple, and never just one, he longed for a spiritual renovation that could reconcile humanity. Years later, Francis Bacon, a fervent believer in absolute truth and n the possibilities of certainty, invited us to torture Nature so that through the delivery of her secrets we could extract the truth. Most significant of the many lesser travelled paths was Goethe’s; whose scientific contribution has been unjustly overshadowed because of his colossal achievements in literature and arts. For Goethe, “science is as much an inner path of spiritual discovery as it is a discipline aimed at accumulating knowledge of the physical world. For Galileo and Newton, Nature was mathematics. To them nothing that cannot be measure is important in science. Science is the supreme manifestation of reason and reason is the supreme attribute of the human being claimed both Newton and Galileo. Science as Goethe conceived and practiced it, has as its highest goal the arousal of the feeling of wonder through the contemplative looking, in which scientists would come to see God in Nature and Nature in God.
Two worlds once more. Another bifurcation. We are still under the spell of the overpowering luster of Galileo and Newton and have chosen not to navigate the route of Goethean science. Feeling, intuition, consciousness and spirituality have been banished from the realms of scientific understanding. The teaching of conventional economics, which, as incredible as it may sound, claims to be “value free”, is a conspicuous case in point. A discipline where mathematics has become an end in itself instead of a tool, and where only that which can be measured is important, has generated models and interpretations that are theoretically attractive but wholly divorced from reality. Spectacular successes have been attributed to the routes of Machiavelli, Bacon, Descartes, Galileo and Newton. Meanwhile Francis, Picot, Bruno and Goethe have been relegated to historical footnotes.
We have arrived at a point in our human evolution where we know a lot but understand very little. Our chosen navigation has been piloted by reason. We celebrate the apotheosis of reason, but in the midst of such a gala, we suddenly have the feeling that something is missing. Yes, we can achieve knowledge about almost anything we want. We can for instance, guided by our beloved scientific method, study everything there is, from theological, anthropological, sociological, psychological and even biochemical perspectives, about a human phenomenon called love. But once we achieve that complete knowledge, we will sooner or later discover that we will never discover love unless we fall in love. Eventually we will realize that we can understand that of which we become a part. Understanding is a result of integration while knowledge is an upshot of detachment.
In order to achieve completeness, it is essential to understand that the relation between science and spirituality is not through knowledge only. We therefore need to undertake, at last, the navigation we have long postponed. But in order to do so we must face the great challenge of a language shift. The first three centuries of the second millennium witnessed the dominance of a teological language; one that found its roots in finding a calling that was superior and beyond the needs of everyday life. This made possible the construction of magnificent cathedrals; after all they were constructing for eternity and time was not of essence. Gradually the shift in language toward one that was coherent with the historical challenge of the times was apparent. It is only in the twentieth century that the dominant language has become that of economics; a hard language that recognized economic domination as a means of survival. This language gave way for a more ‘developmental’ one, one that was visibly utopian, optimistic and happy. Promoting true development and overcoming world poverty were its taglines. True, the disparities in income strata’s are far more pronounced now than before… which brings us back to this moment in time where we must rest and reflect. Possibly by unearthing the forgotten map, we can pursue harmony between the many varied truths or maybe postpone our navigation of knowledge until we can truly understand the knowledge itself.
Or maybe, we need a brand new language that opens the door of understanding: not a language of power and domination, but a language that may emerge from the depth of our self discovery as an inseparable part of a whole that is the cradle of the miracle of life. If we manage to provoke such a shift, we may still experience the satisfaction of having brought about a new century worth living in.

The Forgotten Map,

The Forgotten Map,


Every people on earth have their different way of leading there lives. Life usually deals with two things one is the reality and other possibility. Starting from the Iron Age man’s life has changed till now and that also drastically. The destination that we have reached today is a result of the decisions we have made in the past or the choices that we have made till now. Every point of time we have to take some choice or decisions to move ahead, the choice can lead good or bad for you but the point is that you have to take it.

The document actually says man have tried so much to gain knowledge for centuries and has amassed great deals of it. But the question that needs to be asked us here whether we have acquired the understanding to integrate all that we know to good application. We won’t be able to understand until and unless we experience it.

The Forgotten Map

“I am myself and my circumstances”

-José Ortega y Gasset

The present in which one stands is determined by some of the various decisions and routes one has taken in the past. Different situation ends with different results and this also affects the present stature in the person. These decisions not only stand for an individual but also for the communities and the overall society.

Considering the Judaeo-Christian or the so called Western civilisation has also undergone these decisions or ‘The Bifurcation’.

The world is a place where love was not only possible but made sense and had a universal meaning. This was said by Francis of Assisi formerly known as Giovanni Bernardone. But the world we have today is not that of Francis but of Machiavelli who believed that it is much safer to be feared than to be loved. This was during some time in the 12th century.

‘Truths are multiple and never just one.’ This was said by Giovanni Francesco Pico Della Mirandolla in the year 1497 when he refused to be enclosed with in one doctrine. But again this route was not navigated because a few years later Francis Bacon, a fervent believer in absolute truth and possibilities of certainty invited us to torture nature so that through the delivery of the secrets we could extract the truth.

In the year 1600 Giordano Bruno believed that everything has a life and has a soul. Everything for him was a manifestation of life. ‘What I see through the window are hats and coats covering automatic machines.’ This was whispered by René Descartes in his Metaphysical Reflection. The later took the upper hand and we have seen the triumph of mechanism and reductionism.

Science is the supreme manifestation of reason and reason is the supreme attribute of the human being. This was observed by Galileo and Newton for whom the language of nature was mathematics. They believed that We and the Nature are two separate entities where the former is the ‘observer’ and the later is the ‘observed’.

Science as Goethe conceived is in which the scientist would come to see God in Nature and Nature in God. He believed that science also helps to attain spiritual knowledge through proper training of observation, thinking, feeling, imagination & intuition.

That’s the way it is. The route which has been navigated has achieved spectacular success and achievements whereas the other route has remained as historical footnotes remembered by bookworms. The routes of the Newton, Galileo, Descartes, Bacon & Machiavelli has been highly used by Universities compared to the routes of Geothe, Bruno, Picot & Francis.

Mathematics instead of being a tool became and end where importance was given to things only which can be measured and be made to models to be interpreted that are divorced from reality but are theoretically very attractive.

This sudden change of the world into a world of confusion and a world of disenchantment where progress became paradoxical and absurd and we had to run into something as virtual reality to seek refuge. These are the reasons for the schizophrenia, depression and narcissism which have now become the mirror of the existential reality.

We are celebrating the glorification of reason but suddenly we have the feeling that something is missing. Our route has been guided by reason which has been a very successful one but the fact remains that we know a lot but understand very little.

Understanding is holistic whereas knowledge is fragmented.

Understanding is the result of integration whereas knowledge is the result of detachment.

Knowledge is not only the road to understanding rather it requires a different navigation on the whole.

A human phenomenon such as LOVE, we can study all the various aspect of it such as philosophical, sociological and even biochemical prospective. The result- we would know everything about love but we would eventually discover that we will not be able to understand it until and unless we fall in love.

So now we are becoming aware that knowledge itself is not enough but we have to learn how to attain understanding in order to achieve the completeness of our being and science.

Knowledge without understanding is HOLLOW, and understanding without knowledge is incomplete.

Language influences our perceptions and hence shapes our reason. Different ages of generation or themes has its own language

The dominant language of the first three centuries of the 2nd millennium was of teleological nature, where the actions by humans were related to a calling that was superior beyond the needs of everyday life. The construction made in this phase was enormous and time was never a concern because it was being built for eternity and eternity is timelessness.

The important lay in the deed and not in the time it might take.

The dominant language of the 19th century was marked by an orderly, logical, and aesthetically consistent relation of parts of the historical challenge of the times.

Economics became the dominant language of the 20th century. In the late twenties and the early thirties the result of many crises was a language which had the capacity of interpreting the crisis as well as overcoming it known as the Keynesian language. During the fifties and sixties the economist felt that they had found a way to overcome world poverty and promote true development. There was a positive change of many things in this period.

The last three decades of the 2oth century, the neo liberal discourse, has been a brutal one. It dramatically increased global poverty, many national economics have been crippled by the burden of debt with a brutal over-exploitation of both people and natural resources which leads to the destruction of ecosystem and alarming levels of biodiversity.

We tend to comfort ourselves being the members of the successful culture. But the truth lies that no matter how much we convince ourselves with concept of success we still are incomplete beings, materially overdeveloped and spiritually poor. And this poverty is responsible for the uneasiness and anxieties of the world today.

Thus the time has come for us to search for that undiscovered route that we did not navigate to help us to rescue from our existential confusion. We now have the opportunity to study the hazards and success, the tragedies and the glories of the already navigated route to unearth the alternative map for navigation.

And as a consequence we may be able to

Perhaps see everyone as brothers and sisters.

Perhaps to believe the harmony of many truths.

Perhaps to believe that Earth has a SOUL and everything has a life.

Perhaps to realise the value of intuition, spirituality and consciousness.

Or in Geothe’s words “if we seek comfort in the whole, we must learn to discover the whole in the smallest part.”

Our quest for knowledge has delayed our navigation towards understanding.

Thus to avoid the increasing distortion of reality and contributing to our confusion and to the falsification of knowledge and to avoid the spell of neo-liberal discourse one such navigation towards understanding is the call of today.

So there is a need for a new language that opens our vision towards understanding rather than power and domination. It would emerge from the depths of the self discovery as an inseparable part of the whole that is the cradle of miracle of life.

Thus the path which has not been taken or being avoided by choosing the already navigated or the successful path has to be unravelled so as to help us realise the essence of the knowledge and understanding as a whole.

The time has come to avert the various issues of global crisis and to find an alternative route from the past than the current path of reductionist science and neo liberal globalisation.

This change in language will give us a satisfaction of having bought about a new century worth living.

Thus the historical footnotes will bring about a renaissance to the modern day theory of comfort and educate us about the other aspect of life which is yet to be discovered and lived.

Biswa Bikash Singh

Product Design, PGDPD, 1st Sem