Mayana Puri wishes to serve the community, “whether that’s through educational workshops, or writing about current issues that matter” to her.
The significance of diet, and nutrition for good health is a universal fact, and one is familiar with how it can affect internal/external appearances. Mayana adds her perspective to this axiom of “you are what you eat”—food also “reflects one’s passions and predilections”. People define, and label themselves in relation to the kind of food they eat or do not eat—subsequently, understanding what people consume, offers an insight into them. In wanting to understand the reciprocal relationship one shares with food, Mayana is not recommending an austere lifestyle, in fact she is a proud foodie who loves to explore different cuisines, and flavours. Her focus is on finding the right balance between appreciation of food, and a healthy lifestyle by being equipped with the awareness, and knowledge about the relation between both. Hence, she always has been, and is eager to learn more about food and nutrition, which she loves to share either through the form of workshops or on social media.
She conducts nutritional awareness workshops, the most recent one she conducted was at the local blind school—Janta Adarsh Andh Vidyalaya—where she has been volunteering, along with her family, for over eight years now. The school’s principal, Mrs Kalpana Sharma, has created a happy, and positive space for educating the children, with the help of her diligent colleagues and family members. Mayana decided to conduct a workshop for the children from this school, as one day they will have to rely on themselves for having a healthy diet that provides them with balanced nutrition, and her workshop would be a way to empower them with knowledge about the same. The workshop also focused on hygiene, since visual impairment entails more of a dependence on other senses, for example, touch—to find one’s way, or do certain things. This makes the issue of regularly washing hands more important, in order to prevent the spread of, and/or ingestion of bacteria. Mayana was used to conducting such workshops with the help of visual aids, and presentations, but such methods were ineffective in this case. Thus, she had to think of alternative ways, and she began to “restructure the whole workshop so that it was more of a sensory experience”. She arranged trays with food items from various food groups, and based her instructions on senses of touch, taste, and hearing—this was something she had not done before, but she accepted the challenge with pleasure.
Mayana was greeted—to her surprise—with a “high level of enthusiasm and interest in her workshop”, evidenced by the level of the children’s participation. She reminisces about one of the photographs from the workshop—where a smiling boy is seen biting into his apple, she associates his gleeful expression with the overall warmth exuded by the students of the school. The learning experience was not asymmetrical, Mayana felt that she, too, had imbibed valuable lessons about happiness, and contentment.
Besides wanting to encourage discourse around food, nutrition, and health among people, Mayana is also focused on getting her grades up for the final school year—you see, she is seventeen years old.
Words by Ishita Jha
Photography by Shulabh Gupta
This article is a part of Art Should Tempt Magazine, Vol. 02.
We uncover, and explore narratives about people, places, and culture that tend to go unmarked, or we have become habitual to.