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Aloo Paratha

Anooj Bhandari


When I was growing up, I never referred to the place down the block where we used to get all of our Indian food by its name. It was simply, “The Indian Store,” and with each trip we would come home with snacks, little vessels of time travel within our suburban kitchen. It’s funny— the act of naming another thing through the names others gave to me. A simultaneous space of connection and separation.

If a rip in a package of frozen Aloo Paratha is a portal for my mother into her mother’s arms, then my portal, into the arms of some amorphous matriarch, is the pop of the packaging of a bag of Kurkure. When I think about these rips, these spaces, I rarely think about names. Rather, I think about movement, about a soft enclosure, a body, or a collection of bodies spinning through homes, together. A name is perhaps just a name when we suspend each other in history.

God. Tree. Child. Three of an infinity of words through which I have been named, some angrily, and at some point, I have found it difficult to understand the act of naming the self when the self has grown to contain so many others. Which words are mine, and how much can a sound of a series of shapes ultimately hold when it is just a holding place, a relic, a poem, a recipe, for all that is around me?


2020, Poetry and A/V


Artist Bio

Anooj Bhandari (he/they) is a Community Organizer with passions for the relationship between community education and harm reduction practice, and exploring alternatives to, diversions from, and the elimination of, the carceral state. His work focuses on building microcosms that imagine and explore the possibility of liberation within the interpersonal, through facilitations and community experiences, currently coordinating programming, training, and youth organizing at NYC's Restorative Justice Initiative. Anooj is an Artist, specifically a creative storyteller, experimental theater maker, performer, and installation maker, who believes in art as a process to ask quiet questions publicly. He is an ensemble member of the New York Neo-Futurists, where he writes, performs, and directs in their weekly show, The Infinite Wrench. He also collaborates with Fresh Lime Soda Productions, a contemporary South-Asian theater ensemble, and is a writer and performer with Agile Rascal, a bicycle touring theater troupe. He is an alumnus of EmergeNYC, the Hemispheric Institute’s Fellowship for Emerging Political Performance Artists. Past residencies have included the Lighthouse Residency at the BEAM Center, The Dancing with Peace Residency at How to Build Up, Inc. and The Bandung Residency with the Asian American Arts Alliance and the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporic Arts. Anooj was a 2023 MacDowell Fellow.