• Manju Sadarangani

Alaska


There is something so lovely about how kintsugi facilitates connection. This little bowl came to me from a beloved friend whom I haven’t seen in a decade. She sent me this bowl to mend (along with pilot bread, which I absolutely fell in love with when we both lived in New Delhi. It was the perfect antidote to Khan Market induced Delhi Belly. Much like her soothing balm of friendship in a time of utter chaos.)


As fall in the Northern hemisphere heralds drier temperatures, I go into a mad

kintsukuroi frenzy. The wet Mid Atlantic springs and swampy summers bedevil rice flour; they even triumph over synthetic repair modalities. Hours spent carefully putting things together evaporate with the humidity and I spend a lot of time mumbling under my breathe.





And then, there is this little bowl. A pleasure to kintsugi. A crack which follows a nice straight line. The material open to burnished gold leaf rather than gold powder. I played with the idea of repairing it with red or blue lacquer; in the end, I stuck with classical gold.


I asked an old friend who asked me to repair this bowl why this particular bowl. Here is what she wrote:


“This little bowl is maybe not in and of itself a particularly special item. It’s not expensive or anything – in fact its provenance is hazy. I think I got it from an old friend who was downsizing prior to a big move overseas (Finland?) when we were students in the early 2000s. I like its texture and size, it’s perfect for holding little pickles or a grated vegetable, and I enjoy how it looks nested into the little pile of small, mismatched side dishes that I have had among my daily dishes for many years.





I’ve broken other dishes, like we all must have. Usually, they are a mess and not salvageable in any practical way. Usually, if it’s one I really like, I just shed a tear, sweep up the shards, and put them in the bin. I broke this little dish when I was taking it out to use it. I fumbled, it fell to the counter, and it split ever so perfectly right down the middle.


You asked why it’s special to me. Honestly I don’t know that it was intrinsically so special to me. It has no singular memory attached, rather its presence in my pile of everyday dishes for something approaching twenty years, in various places I’ve lived around the world. It broke at a time when lots of things in my life felt broken, and I was (am) focused on mending. The first thought that popped into my head, after the disappointment and noticing the remarkable perfection of the break, was you and your kinsugi projects that I’d been seeing from time to time on Facebook.





Honestly, I think that thought was basically, “Dammit, my dish broke… And this might a nice opportunity to reconnect with a friend.” So I sent you the picture, and packed up the bowl with some Pilot Bread when you said yes. It made the bowl breaking into an opportunity for reconnecting – for the bowl and for me.”


This piece is now on its way home to Alaska.


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