Instamatic

by Suvir Saran
Instapics. Instasayings. Instawisdom.
A chef's deeper, more thoughtful look into today's Instaworld.

In Stores Now !

 

Every chef is an artist, and Michelin-star chef Suvir Saran is an artist extraordinaire who lives with enthusiastic passion. In Instamatic, (Milap Publications) Suvir gives us food for souls, nourishment for minds, emancipation for thoughts.


Using an iPhone, Suvir shows us how to broaden our horizons and humanize one another, one image at a time, pushing us to places we might never pay attention to and to see beauty that others might think ordinary. His is the confidence of a man who has both gained and lost much and so is unafraid of the unknown, unafraid to search and see, now teaching us as well.


Musings, essays, meditations…it is not the style or genre that makes this book a marvel. The fearlessness of Saran’s prose and his sometimes searing but always inclusive and empathetic voice can change a reader’s mind and perhaps even alter the course of their life.

The Instamatic Story

 

Reviews/Praise

Dr. SHASHI THAROOR

Author & Member of Parliament, Thiruvanthinapuram

This is a volume to enjoy, and to savour. It opens our eyes for us, helps alter our mind.

 

What greater value can any of us seek from a book?

 

The next time I savour one of Suvir’s signature dishes, I know the taste will be enhanced for me by the knowledge that I am consuming, literally, the work of a man who feels, and who, in this volume, has taught us all to feel as well.
 

VIR SANGHVI

Journalist, TV Anchor; Author, The Gamechangers

Suvir Saran brings his wonderful eye and his creative sensitivity to this collection of pictures and prose. It’snice to see a great chef apply his talents to other arts as well!

FRANCES MAYES

Bestselling Author - Under the Tuscan Sun, See You in the Piazza

Suvir Saran’s images saturate not only the eye with color, but the mind as well. The vibrancy of a marigold-bright farm in a green, green landscape, the smeared reds and yellows felt through a monsoon-soaked windshield, the majestic darken-ings of the sky as evening falls—these images become chances to look and look again at what it means to catch “the life that shares the planet with us,” and to learn “life-altering lessons.”


Suvir’s gentle meditations on his archetypal images invite the reader/viewer to find “messages from the rising sun,” messages all around us if we are open to finding them. Click, post, move on—that’s what most of us do. But here we’re stopped, confronted with layers and colors of meaning in the every-day. Each image is a portal: step over it and recover the largess of the natural world, a chance to dance again in the rain.

VANI TRIPATHI TIKOO,

Actor, Producer, Activist

In an ever changing world of the times in which we Instagram even the food that we eat; comes this gorgeous, almost cinematic, photographic journey from #MasterChef Suvir Saran.

 

Pure delight, as the confluence of sights and sounds from across the world find collaboration in this picturesque narrative. Unmistakably the most true-to-its-roots work from Suvir. A gorgeous journey that's stirs the senses!

Suvir’s images capture the essence of a joyous world. Fleeting, momentary, and connected by one deep chord that defines Suvir: colour. This book represents that deep emotive connect with colour that Suvir feels all the more keenly after his ordeal. His images allow instant access into a moment, and his thoughts associated with that image give an insight into what makes a person what he truly is. Enjoy his song of color and joy. I did.

ROCKY SINGH,

Anchor, Highway On My Plate, NDTV Good Times

Entering Suvir Saran’s book of inspiring words and colorful images is a delightful journey.  He recounts a small but broad slice of his travel experiences with kaleidoscopic beauty and vibrant emotions.  I have enjoyed Suvir’s imaginative food for many years and his book perfectly expresses the way I feel when eating his cooking.  I immediately sensed his signature brilliance.
 

RICCARDO ILLY ,

3rd generation owner, Illy coffee/Author

Suvir’s photos are heartfelt and immediate. Intensely augmented colors heighten the deeply personal journey.
 

MICHAEL JAMES O'BRIEN,

Photographer/Chairman,  Photography at SCAD

Saran’s Instamatic takes his audience on a heartfelt journey as he uses his phone camera and Instagram as his window into the world, transporting us to different countries, experiences, languages and plates of food. This collection of stories sparks positivity and kindness, both core to Instagram, and is an inspiration for others to create inclusive and accessible communities.

ANKHI DAS,
Director Public Policy 
Facebook India & South Asia

Suvir Saran's painterly and soulful writing coupled with his view of the world is an experience in vibrant color. Whether it’s sharing thoughts and feelings or a special angle, Suvir’s work allows us to see the world in an unusually vivid way. From a well-known Manhattan scene to female farmers in remote Rwanda, the message is clear - art is everywhere. You’ll find it in this book.

ROSE McGOWAN,

Activist/Author of Brave,

a How-to

foreword

by Dr.Shashi Tharoor

I have known Suvir Saran for a quarter of a century now, as a brilliantly talented chef, a thoughtful and humane individual and a valued friend. What I did not know in all this time is that he also has a way with a camera.

These 75 photos and the thoughts that accompany them are Suvir’s work after a recent stroke laid him low and removed him for a while from the stresses and strains of daily life. The pictures were all taken with an iPhone. That is no disqualification: our smart phones now come with cameras of a quality higher than many of us used to obtain from the more expensive apparatuses of an earlier era. (I was recently interviewed by a Dutch filmmaker who was shooting a documentary on India entirely on his iPhone; his film has since been released to considerable acclaim.)

The volume resulting from these iPhone snapshots of Suvir’s—some blurred as befits pictures taken from a moving car, some slightly out of focus to remind the reader that they reflect the author’s post-concussive brain and stroke-affected arms—is a work of art.

Here is the world glimpsed through the rain-spattered windshield of a moving vehicle; a landscape captured through a window; a man or woman caught, out of focus, as they go about their daily lives. They might be you and me, or people we have spotted and never noticed as we glimpsed them from our own cars and scurried through our lives. Suvir’s talent is to make art out of the banalities of our quotidian existence, to make us sit up and pay attention to that which we simply ignore or take for granted.

The thoughts that accompany his pictures elevate them above the humdrum. They are mature reflections, poetically expressed, of a profound sensibility, one alive to the possibilities of life, whether human or otherwise. Together with the pictures, Suvir’s gentle, moving and sometimes searing prose combines to give readers an insight into the world as seen by another—someone who has endured much pain and transcended it, someone in other respects no different from them—and has translated his perspective into art. The pictures and his word-pictures, seen separately and together, share a perspective at once unique and thought-provoking.

The images taken with an iPhone convey a certain immediacy that make them fit well into the “here now, gone in a moment ”attention span of the Instagram generation. But this book rewards longer attention being paid to it.The slightly-blurred images—sometimes purposefully out of focus—deny us the clarity we are used to expecting from the photographer’s eye. Like all good art, it is intended to make the reader work for his pleasure: the experience suggested by these pictures is not merely that which is handed to them on a plate, or a page. The pictures, and the texts that accompany them, ask questions rather than provide answers. Because their clarity and focus does not match that which people normally expect from a camera, they do the trick in making one think, see a world beyond what we might immediately grasp visually, and give one a reason to pause.

As Suvir writes about some of his subjects:
“Full of blood in their veins, ticking hearts, thinking brains, these are
people, humans too. With bones and flesh, and bodies too. 
Looking beyond the here and now, towards the life-giving trees, where
they meet what seems to be the sky, is breezy easy, freely free.
To catch and grasp life that shares the planet with us and occupies that
same space we do on this earth, comes with eye-opening, mind-altering
lessons.“

This is a volume to enjoy, and to savour. It opens our eyes for us, helps alter our mind. What greater value can any of us seek from a book?


The next time I relish one of Suvir’s signature dishes, I know the taste will be enhanced for me by the knowledge that I am consuming, literally, the work of a man who feels, and who, in this volume, has taught us all to feel as well.

preface

An insta-moment made this collection of photographs and musings come together. Those who know me know that I am far from shy about sharing my reactions to whatever I see and feel any given moment. And so, penning my thoughts into musings, sharing them on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, is nothing foreign to me.


Over the years countless people have suggested I compile my reflections into a book, write a novel based on them, or even turn them into a movie. Those suggestions, as flattering as they were, never got my attention.


But as the first monsoon rain hit Delhi this year, and I started sharing my photos and thoughts on social media, I was overwhelmed by the encouragement that poured from every corner of the world, from family, friends, and acquaintances alike. Each and every email or message came with an admonition for not having put my mutterings into a coffee table book.


Then I woke up one morning to a comment from Frances Mayes on one of my posts. She was positive in her reactions, as she always is. Graciousness seems to run through her DNA. She also mentioned that she was going off thereafter to read Proust. A few minutes later the phone rang, and my friend Mohit Jain, the closest friend I have since junior school, and with whom I am perennially close, was calling. Proprietor of the oldest art gallery in India (Dhoomimal Art Centre), he suggested we finally take the artist that resides in my soul and bring him out of retirement. He offered to have an exhibition of select works of mine later in the winter. Then came a call from Marina Fareed, busy caring for dear Shaukat at the hospital in Manhattan, and yet in that emotionally exhausting moment, she said that my photos and writings made her nostalgic for Pakistan. She said the same magic words as the two before her. Marina is my friend, mother, champion, and nurturer. Always there for me, with open arms and a welcoming home and table, without the toxicity emanating from the border that divides our two nations of birth.


And if these three were not enough, within the hour my dear and most generous and nurturing friend Yogi Suri called. Publisher of Milap, an Urdu daily, he and his family have been in the publishing business forever. Since I decided to move to India, Yogi and his wife Priya have been pushing me to write. He called suggesting the publication of a book collecting my thoughts and photography together. These four conversations and the voice of my most ardent and loyal fan and friend, Ellen Tarver, who has always been pushing me to publish my photos and works, did the trick. Ellen is an editor of books, and a woman of great faith and endless generosity, second only to my immediate family and Charlie and his mom in her
steadfast caring and nurturing of me.


These five incredible people, four on the same day and one hammering me with the same message for years, made me go to work and put this book together.

And then there is Aamir Rabbani, a talented artist who lives, works, and creates based out of Delhi. Aamir is young in years but blessed with what seems like true old-world charm and manners, as well as endless talent. Ever since my return to Delhi, Aamir has supported any and all of my outbursts of artistic expression, and in doing so, has made me feel I remain vital and relevant. This book was made possible
through his designing prowess and his conceptual genius. He was the one who connected the entries in my travel diary—shown as watermarks throughout thesepages—to the images that inspired them. Images that are an extension of myself, that affect my work, and that are in fact food for the soul of a chef who feeds the bodies of others. Aamir’s patient encouragement and tireless sweat make these pages find finer tuning and deeper meaning in my life, and I hope in your life as well. iPhotos these, they are not about the quality of the images, but rather they are all about capturing a moment and the thoughts and reflections that moment elicits. Emotions bared, fears shared, successes remembered, and hopes revealed. We all see what we see, but we are capable of seeing so much more if we pause,filter the moment, capture its gravitas, and reflect upon it.


Life lives on, with or without us. We can learn to capture its essence in its entirety or get lost in what we deem to be important. We are but a small afterthought in the larger scope of life’s scope. That isn’t to say that we do not matter. On the contrary, if we allow ourselves to think beyond ourselves, we might appreciate all the hidden jewels sent our way daily. Waiting to be appreciated, but never getting our
attention.


It is my hope that these images, the prose and the impressions herein, encourage you to document your own day through the images you capture on your phone. As you look through a lens, you lose fear, inhibitions, stereotypical reactions, and unnecessary distractions, and dive into a moment in most unexpected ways. Lost to a moment without the discombobulating fog of your own invention, you might not only see life where earlier you saw none, but also find beauty and sadness. Both mind altering, cathartic, and healing.


As you dive deeper with each photo you take, you might start questioning life a lot more. You will also start finding answers.


It is my hope that these pages bring out reactions from you that take you to new places within yourself, and that I do not fail you in living mindfully.

Suvir Saran

Chef/Author

New Delhi based culinary authority Suvir Saran is the author of three celebrated cookbooks: Indian Home Cooking, American Masala, and Masala Farm, and the chef and owner of THC, The House of Celeste, a modern Indian restaurant in Gurgaon.


Saran’s approachable style has helped demystify Indian cuisine and earned him the first Michelin star awarded to an Indian restaurant in America. His recipes and writings have been featured in many national and international newspapers and magazines, and he teaches popular courses at the Culinary Institute of America in partnership with Harvard School of Public Health.


Speaking, teaching, and appearing at thought leadership retreats worldwide, Saran has used food as a bridge to bring disparate peoples and groups together. He embraces the universality of cuisine and its ability to heal where there are wounds and transcend borders where politics and history have created divisions. Suvir’s exposure to people from all corners of the world gives him an ease in settings that are bursting with diversity. Having always been the other wherever he has made home, he fits in seamlessly, and with his food he warms hearts, wins minds, brings peace, and makes lasting friendships.


In his new book Instamatic, Suvir shares with us the inspiration behind his art and his journeys across multiple civilisations, from the land of his birth to the land of his karma. Through the medium of a simple iPhone, he shows us how to broaden our horizons and humanize one another, one image at a time.

Suvir Saran

Chef/Author

New Delhi based culinary authority Suvir Saran is the author of three celebrated cookbooks: Indian Home Cooking, American Masala, and Masala Farm, and the chef and owner of THC, The House of Celeste, a modern Indian restaurant in Gurgaon.


Saran’s approachable style has helped demystify Indian cuisine and earned him the first Michelin star awarded to an Indian restaurant in America. His recipes and writings have been featured in many national and international newspapers and magazines, and he teaches popular courses at the Culinary Institute of America in partnership with Harvard School of Public Health.


Speaking, teaching, and appearing at thought leadership retreats worldwide, Saran has used food as a bridge to bring disparate peoples and groups together. He embraces the universality of cuisine and its ability to heal where there are wounds and transcend borders where politics and history have created divisions. Suvir’s exposure to people from all corners of the world gives him an ease in settings that are bursting with diversity. Having always been the other wherever he has made home, he fits in seamlessly, and with his food he warms hearts, wins minds, brings peace, and makes lasting friendships.


In his new book Instamatic, Suvir shares with us the inspiration behind his art and his journeys across multiple civilisations, from the land of his birth to the land of his karma. Through the medium of a simple iPhone, he shows us how to broaden our horizons and humanize one another, one image at a time.

Milap Publications is an independent publisher based in New Delhi, India. We specialise in a wide range of quality fiction and non-fiction, including biographies, novels, translations, contemporary, kids and adult literature.


Milap has published books in multiple languages and is at the forefront of the ever-changing publishing industry, which has seen a rapid transition from traditional print to media-rich digital content, resulting in instant access to global audiences. We have embraced these latest print-technology innovations and include provisions for digital publishing to multiple e-Book readers globally.


Our Focus: Building Relationships, Telling Compelling Stories. Just like many of our authors, most of our editors have been with us for a number of years. At Milap Publications we believe in long-term relationship building and generating true value for all. It helps us create a friendly atmosphere where everyone wants to stay.


As an independent publisher, we at Milap Publications care about the quality of what we publish, seeking new and original voices and independent thinking. We provide exclusive attention to our authors with a personalised marketing strategy for each work. Our commitment is to give each publication the attention it deserves in order to maximise its success.


We are currently building our list of titles to be published. So if you are an established author looking for a more personalised service, a first-time author looking for an experienced publisher, or an author looking to self publish, contact us now!

YOGI SURI
MILAP PUBLICATIONS
Milap Niketan
8A, B S Zafar Marg
New Delhi - 110 002

 

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