The Unstereotype Challenge: Kasavu, Coffee and Conversations in the Office Canteen
When Team LF got together for a fun activity to break stereotypes about South India, our own stories of challenging the old order tumbled out.
The other day, a set of boxes were delivered to our team at LF, immediately setting off a flurry of activity. The enthusiastic young’uns in the team were the first to unbox, and something about the contents kickstarted conversations. Pretty soon everyone was planning, plotting, posing, tying, rolling, yanking—or sitting back to watch the fun. “Monday,” announced Rahul, our brand manager, with a flourish. “The activity is on Monday.” Whaaaa!
Let me give you a quick back story. This is the team that lives on the other side of LF—the people who plan, write, shoot, direct, market the shows you all love. Every show, for us, is a conversation starter—one that begins in our meeting rooms and (we hope) turns into a talking point in your drawing rooms. Take our newest show Dakshin Diaries for instance, one that holds a unique lens on the states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka—exploring the nuances of life in the southern states, bringing stories that break away from clichés of language, food and culture; speckled with delicious tales of people, places and foods. Stories of indigenous foods and ancient recipes that have survived the centuries; art forms whose provenance lies in the confluence of cultures that thrived here; the nostalgia around stately old homes that once echoed with the sounds of large joint families that occupied them and musical traditions that continue to bathe entire towns in classical hymns. As he explores the nooks and crannies of the south, our host and fellow traveller chef Rakesh Raghunathan takes us on a sensorial journey along the unexplored south.
When such a
show comes home—to us in our head office—it pushes us to think out-of-the-box. Here
I will pause briefly to reintroduce the box that delivered excitement—nestled
inside the Dakshin Diaries surprise
box was a Mundu, an Angavastram, and
a challenge to ‘break the stereotype’. A kasavu or gold bordered mundu is a
garment worn around the waist in Kerala (also known as veshti and lungi in the
other states). On the designated day, the team arrived, some had enthusiastically styled the garment with a twist, others stuck to tradition. Some
wore the Mundu under a shirt or kurta, others styled it with a sash and
heels or fashioned it into a pant-sari. A piece of clothing with an ancient
history, loved equally by the young and old, had started a conversation about
breaking stereotypes in current times.
Murdia, brand and marketing headMy
#unstereotype move has been in standing strong beside the person I fell in love
with. When my husband wanted to follow his dream and open a restaurant, I kept
my day job and worked with him on the weekends. Then came the challenge of balancing as we raised our little son, he would sometimes step into the role of being the mom as his workplace was closer to home. We shared our responsibilities. Through difficult decisions– the closure
of our restaurant post de-monetisation and my husband’s rough career patch where
I became the bread winner while he showered all his love and time to our son to
shape up his future. We’ve lived by our ‘unconventional’ choices, respecting
each other’s decisions even as we switched roles and found a model that worked best for our little family—who cast men and women in
these roles, really?
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Banerjee, senior brand managerWe all have a
story we are proud of and here is mine that I share with much joy. The product
of middle-class families, my wife and I have had to deal with the expectations,
benchmarks and stereotypical ideas of marriage in our culture. Getting together
was our choice, and not an easy one considering I’m younger to her by 5
years. This raised some eyebrows, just like our other decisions, where I chose
to be the 'man at the kitchen' as my world revolves around my kitchen and love
for culinary art, with my partner being my biggest critic and connoisseur; and
she’s the 'Wo-Man' who runs the house and calls the shots. But life has never
been better—we feel blessed to have each other, and know we are true to what we
are best at, and to each other.
Priya Sharma, senior manager—film
acquisitionWhen I began working for a small
production house, with crazy working hours, a lot of questions were raised. I
was the first person in my family to have chosen to work in the media. “Why this
line? Why work so late? What about the people, there’s so much gossip around
the media!” they said. But I decided to stick to my decision, this is what I
wanted to do. It was time to challenge hackneyed ideas and put ones’ foot down.
Now I’m doing well and my family has accepted my choices.
Suchismita Samaddar, associate
Must watch: A sneak peek into Dakshin Diaries, the show on a mission to re-introduce south India to the world
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