A little full of your grandmother’s cooking tips, illustrated on postcards
Make Mail, based in Coimbatore, invites you to share cooking tips and recipes passed down from your grandmother, to have them illustrated on postcards for her Paati’s Petti initiative.
On Saturdays in Panvel, growing up, we took a weekly trip down memory lane. Just for my sister and I (as nosy as we are today), the house would turn into a labyrinth of trinkets to discover: some resting in the attic, others under the bed and others in the back of the house. cupboards. Grandmotherthe wardrobe, usually out of reach, was particularly enticing. One of these days, when she wasn’t there, we fished out an old box containing it hasbulky frames, photos, coins and a Pentax MX camera.
It has been over a year since she died, but these memory markers persist; his own lunar frames now give company to it has‘s.
Everyone has a petti like that at home, owned by their grandmothers, says Shuruti Vengatesh, founder of the postcard service Make Mail. “An old tin box that prompts us to open it in the hope of delicious treats, to find an eclectic mix of trinkets – jewelry, photos, shopping lists, sewing kits, kohl, colored tabletsâ¦ Things that have nothing to do with each other! Shuruti said.
Illustration by Shuruti Vengatesh
The 29-year-old from Coimbatore has launched an annual initiative, Paati’s Petti to celebrate grandmothers. The idea, she says, is to create a box each year, and fill it with illustrated postcards that summarize the family traditions, passed down by grandmothers: whether they are beauty tips, techniques embroidery or midday stories. Anyone can send their family hacks, to be featured on one of the postcards.
A plate of memories
This year the theme is Recipes and Cooking Tips, and Shuruti has already received 50 responses so far. One said ‘You can never have too much ghee’, and another shared a specific memory of their grandmother always offering nimbu pani to whoever came home. Others sent elaborate recipes from Kathirikai kuzhambu, carrot pickle and so many types of podis, “she says.” I even had one in French, but I haven’t translated it yet! “
The illustrations of the postcards, drawn by Shuruti, will represent these dishes and scenes of cooking or serving, as well as the shared recipe. Anyone who contributes to a hack will receive it back on a postcard. “In the end, we will have an online archive of these recipes accessible to everyone, but at the same time, we will also create a physical file. petti full of postcards. I’m still figuring out if we want to have just one petti or do more and send them to others for a small fee, âshe says.
The initiative had been in the works for five years, as Shuruti and her sister wondered how to document the life and times of their grandmothers.
Shuruti and his sister with their grandmothers
âMy two grandmothers were born on the same day, but they couldn’t be more different. My mother’s mother is gentle and silent, she writes all of her recipes in her 1963 diary. My father’s mother is assertive and independent, she collects clippings from recipe magazines. We are very close to both, âshe says. âWhen I started Make Mail last year, she thought that postcards would be a good way to document: they’re pocket-sized, tangible and evoke warmth. “
A page from the recipe book handwritten by Shuruti’s grandmother
Shuruti launched Make Mail in July 2020, sending postcards to close friends. âI wanted to contact them during the pandemic on something other than WhatsApp. They were very happy to receive them, as most of us are used to having notifications showing up on our screen. “
Hoping to create a culture of slowing down, Shuruti began to receive requests for handmade postcards. Anyone can now sign up to receive a free postcard, to send to themselves or loved ones, and she acts as the go-between – the letter writer who brings the messages to life with her illustrations. She sends 15 a month for free, and there are about 250 people on the waiting list to receive theirs. âI also started something called Children Make Mail specifically for kids, because kids today can live their entire lives without even seeing a handwritten letter,â she says.
Twenty postcards a month might be a handful, but lately she got volunteers saying they would also like to draw and send postcards. Which fuels his ultimate dream: where we all slow down and appreciate the people in our lives.
Visit @ make.mail on Instagram