Kalyan Karmakar was happy walking down the streets of Mumbai, tasting various cuisines from local eateries to high-end restaurants and writing his blog on food until some of his friends and acquaintances encouraged him to organise curated walks for others interested in food. And that’s where the idea of the Finely Chopped Walks was born. Last December, he did his first walk around the Bohri Mohalla, which was very well-received. “The walk allows you to experience what you’re reading in my blog.
The concept is not new to the city. In fact, art curators have been around for the longest time. Tea sommelier Snigdha Manchanda who runs Tea Trunk and, needless to say, is passionate about tea, believes people have been curating experiences in other fields too since the last few years, but it’s only now that she’s seeing an increasing audience for it. “One of the reasons for that is people are getting more experimental with their experiences,” she says.
When Janice Shah and her friend Himanshi Vora returned from abroad after their graduation (and some great food experiences), they realised that although there is a great variety of food products and brands available in our country, it can become too overwhelming for people. Gourmet Box -- an effort to take quality products to consumers -- was born out of their collective passion for food. “I studied marketing and finance and my partner was a business consultant. But after working for a couple of years, we realised that our passion for food was more important for us,” says Shah. Recently, the 28-year-old and her partner have started curating themed boxes for their patrons. “The boxes are priced at Rs 1,250 including delivery charges, but the actual value of the products is much more. So it’s not about making money but to extend an experience of what we love to people who are passionate about similar things,” adds Shah.
A love for craft was on Natasha Bohra’s mind when she decided to start her ‘Do it yourself’ workshops. Bohra, who runs Chromakey Designs, hopes to teach people the finer nuances of making utility items and then retailing them from her store. “The idea is to teach people how to make quality products and then take these great designs directly to the buyers,” she says of the workshops that she plans to start soon. The same can be said about Manjari Verma and Avani Patel, friends-turned-business partners, who quit their respective jobs as copywriter and marine biologist, to turn their collective love for travelling into Broken Compass -- a venture that helps people plan their trips across the globe.
Keepers of traditions
For most curators, doing what they do stems from the love for their subject, as well as a need to preserve some of the rich traditions our country has. Chai Walks focuses on making people aware about the iconic tea places of Mumbai -- not just the popular ones, but even small tea stalls. “Tea is one of the oldest traditions we have, so it’s a wonderful thing to make people aware of their rich cultural heritage,” says Manchanda. As curators, she feels they need to keep exposing people to a wider canvas of experiences and culture.
Your own boss, and slave!
Insia Lacewalla started out finding food stalls for music fests. Since food was her forte, the 26-year-old realised that she would be good at doing food and beverage consultancy for restaurants and others. This May, Small Fry was born, where she offers consultancy for events, and organises baker exhibitions. And it’s a job she absolutely loves doing -- even though, at times she finds herself sending emails at three in the morning. “People think that when you’re running your own company, you’re the boss. While that might be true, it’s also true that you’re the slave as well!” she laughs.
Verma and Patel, too, often find themselves in this situation, especially when one of their clients is on an international vacation. “We work round the clock. Our clients can call us up anytime, so we have to be hands-on,” says Verma, while Patel adds, “But we enjoy doing what we do, so it’s not stressful. It doesn’t feel like a job.” So the next time somebody uses the term curator, know that it’s not necessarily connected with art!
The foundation for any kind of curation is to find one thing and follow it with discipline. One should know about that topic inside out.That’s when you will have the know-how and expertise to curate something. Only when you dive deep into the ocean of knowledgecan curation come naturally to you.
The main thing that helps any curator stand out is personalisation. There is a lot of information available on the Internet already, so it’s the personal touch that brings alive the experience.
Conducts Finely Chopped Walks
Know your customer
When you’re doing something for someone else, it’s difficult to step out of your own shoes. So it’s important to understand the client’s personality and requirement, when you’re curating something for someone.
Manjari Verma and Avani Patel
Founders of Broken Compass