Creolization Or Prodigalization? the Many Avatars of an Indo-Singaporean Food Consumptionscape

ABSTRACT - This paper focuses on the effects of post-slave labour migration between India and -Singapore and the resultant cycle of deculturation-reculturation of the Indo-Singoporean migrants as observed in their food consumptionscape. In the post-colonial period, these were altered by creolization, and in more recent times (through remigration) of prodigalized consumption settings. Historical and geographic changes as reflected in socio-cultural shifts and mirrored in these ever evolving food consumptionscape are explored. The example of a South Indian vegetarian restaurant is used to illustrate this complex, constantly shifting and multi-layered consumption context.


Teresa Davis (2003) ,"Creolization Or Prodigalization? the Many Avatars of an Indo-Singaporean Food Consumptionscape", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 30, eds. Punam Anand Keller and Dennis W. Rook, Valdosta, GA : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 284-288.

Advances in Consumer Research Volume 30, 2003     Pages 284-288


Teresa Davis, University of Sydney


This paper focuses on the effects of post-slave labour migration between India and -Singapore and the resultant cycle of deculturation-reculturation of the Indo-Singoporean migrants as observed in their food consumptionscape. In the post-colonial period, these were altered by creolization, and in more recent times (through remigration) of prodigalized consumption settings. Historical and geographic changes as reflected in socio-cultural shifts and mirrored in these ever evolving food consumptionscape are explored. The example of a South Indian vegetarian restaurant is used to illustrate this complex, constantly shifting and multi-layered consumption context.

Much work has been done in studying the effects of immigration on caste and cultural systems of Indian migrants (Grieco 1998, Khan 1994, Chandra 1997). Studying these movements of culture across borders and the subsequent creolization of consumption patterns is an important area of enquiry. Creolization of culture is an aspect of the melding and fusing of colliding cultures that is constantly happening in today’s globalized cultural and consumption contexts. In the context of Indian migrants to North America and the UK, such creolization has been documented and the subsequent transformation of consumption patterns has been focussed on, (Fisher 1980, Furnham & Bochner 1986, Helweg 1979). The cultural and consumption exchanges that have been documented so far are mostly unidirectionalBflowing from the transfer of aspects of consumption between source to adopted country. Increasingly, with open borders and globalised commercial exchange becoming easier, such flows have become multi-directional. This paper focuses on one such example. The creolization of one aspect of South Indian cultureBthe 'Mcdonaldization’ of traditional vegetarian restaurants.

In South Indian state of Tamilnadu, where a predominantly caste Hindu population traditionally adhered to strict caste based eating practices, many changes have taken place in the aftermath of the globalisation of markets and palates. The traditional Hindu attitudes to eating were governed by the Brahminical rules of 'Shudth’ (purity) and 'Juthaa’ (pollution). The traditional brahminical household followed strict rules with regard to food preparation and consumption. Food had to be prepared from specified ingredients, using specified utensils and served in a specified order by caste Hindus. Non- caste Hindus were not allowed to eat from the same dish or even sit down to eat with caste Hindus. The person who cooked had to be a caste Hindu and had to be 'shudth’ or 'pure’Bwhich state was symbolised by the freshly washed clothes and just bathed person. Thus, in traditional pre-colonial times a caste Hindu could rarely eat outside his/her home. Eating out and at restaurants were for non-caste Hindus or non-Hindus. To overcome this, from about the 1930s there was a growth in the number of 'Brahmin-style pure vegetarian’ restaurants where the chef was always a caste Hindu and where food was served in the traditional fashion. The turnover of tables in such restaurants was always high, and it attracted an increasingly non-caste clientele. This feature of urban quick eating, was epitomised by the 'Woodlands, Dashaprakash’ snack, mini meal ('tiffin’) type eateries were the earliest form of 'fast food’ in South India. The raison d’etre of such restaurants was to cater to the 'office-goer’ who could not be at home for every meal and therefore risked breaking the food consumption rules of his caste. These were therefore 'safe’ places to eat.

During the Colonial period (especially in the post-slavery era), large numbers of Indian labourers were moved to British plantation colonies in Malaya (Singapore), the Pacific and the Caribbean (Jain 1988). These early Indian immigrants to Singapore were concentrated in and around the city centre. These early immigrants were mostly from the trader castes (such as the south Indian Chettiars) as well as many non-Hindus such as Tamil Moslems, Sindhi, Sikh and Jain groups. In a trying to keep up with the nostalgic palates of this disparate Indian immigrant community, many Indian style restaurants opened doors in the 1940s. In catering to these groups the main issues of maintaining caste distinctions and practices were eschewed in favour of simply providing a consistently authentic and affordable culinary alternative to these immigrant groups. This lead to the creation of creolised forms of such eating places. The Komalas chain was one of these. It started off as just another traditional South Indian 'Dosai and Idli’ restaurant, but evolved over the years into a McDonaldized version of the original vegetarian South Indian type restaurant combining the idea of authentic and relatively cheap food with the more 'western’ notion of a fast food chain. While maintaining the quick turnover and wide variety of fast moving snack type product lines, Komalas adopted the McDonald type queues, capped and uniformed staff, disposable cutlery and a modernised setting. This change was quintessentially Singaporean, with the blend of (take the best of both worlds /meeting point of many cultures approach) East and West creolization.

In 1999, the Komalas creolization was re-exported to India. Today the creolization and prodigalization of the fast food concept has come a full circle. To enter a Komalas outlet in Chennai (Madras) is to step into a McDosai experience. This is where the 'dosai’ or the ubiquitous south Indian lentil pancake has been transformed by the consumption context into the creolized version of the McDonaldburger. The traditional vegetarian South Indian type eateries still co-exist, but are being abandoned by the new generation of the MTV/Star TV generation of younger Indian consumers who retain their taste for traditional food, but prefer the Western 'spin’ on old favourites.

This invention and reinvention of the consumption/cultural context is symptomatic and representative of the Indian consumer today. The changes in patterns of consumption amongst Indian consumers have been greater in the last 2 decades than in the past 100 years (Venu 2001). The influence of British colonisation on the cuisine of South India has been minimal, and restricted in some pockets of the society. The globalisation of markets and the movement of Indian migrants between adopted countries and India has had significant social and cultural effects. The changes and impact on the culture of consumption patterns is therefore a significant change, especially when considered in the context of the close relationship that South Indian Brahminism has had on the food consumption habits of the average consumers. To fully understand these changing consumption patterns, one needs to study the historical context and geographic movement of people that have created and nurtured such creolizations. Only when such historical, geographic, and cultural transformations are scrutinised can hybrid social effects on aspects of consumption such as eating habits be fully understood.

Phase 1 Immigration and Deculturation

The Indian diaspora of the British colonial period, unlike that of the later immigration to the Middle East, UK and the US was marked by the characteristic of recruited labour migration to man the British colonial sugar, tea and rubber plantations in South East Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific islands. The nature of forced or 'indentured’ migration under these colonial circumstances was of three distinct types. The recruitment and the subsequent immigration of these labourers determined the nature of the social and cultural structures that were built in the new country. Greico (1998) explains the differences between the migrant groups with regards to the social and cultural structures developed in the new country on the basis of the nature of the initial recruitment, suggesting that some forms of labour migration facilitated the reformation of caste and other social/cultural structures more than others. In her study of the Fijian Indian migration, she identifies three distinct types of labour migration that took place in the British colonial period. The indentured labour migration that took place between 1852-1937, the Maistry form of immigration which took place to Burma and the Kangany form of labour recruitment that helped man the colonial plantations of S.E Asia, the Pacific and the Caribbean. These three forms differed in the method of recruitment and contracts that were made between the various agents of the colonial powers and the immigrants. They had a lasting impact on the ability of the immigrants to reform and preserve the cultural and social structures that were required in their new country. Under the forced or indentured system, the disruption of the immigrants’ original lives and systems, was so severe that they had difficulty in restructuring and rebuilding them. Much of the contracting under this system involved the recruitment of individual workers from all parts of the country and from all social strata. This meant that they arrived as isolated, individual immigrants bereft of caste or family members resulting in a deculturation that was absolute. In such a context restructuring or reinventing of original cultural systems was near impossible. However under the third system of labour immigration- the Kangany system, recruitment was carried out in groups by recruitment agents who approached the headman of a village in a particular part of the country (notably in South India) and family and caste members migrated in large, culturally intact groups. This meant that they were able to reform or reinvent their cultural/social networks and structures including that of caste with greater ease than the inividual, dispossessed labour migrant. The Kangany form of labour immigration included recruitment of labour to the South East Asian plantation colonies of (Singapore) Malaya and Sri Lanka. This paper focuses on the effects of such immigration to the former colony of Singapore and its impact on food consumption habits.

In many of the cases of labour immigration to (Singapore) Malaya, the estate headman would return to India, usually to his home village to recruit whole groups of labourers and their families. They were advanced their travel and other expenses and after they arrived in Singapore in debt to the headman, they had to work to pay off their dues. Some returned to India at the end of this period, many more would stay and settle down close to existing groups of Indian immigrants forming communities which then collectively and actively set about recreating cultural/social networks and structures. This process of deculturation (when the immigrant leaves their home country for a new country without similar cultural and social environments has been documented (Greico 1998 and Khan 1994). The process of recreating or even reinventing such cultural and social structures has also been studied by these authors. This paper studies this process with reference to a specific example of changing food consumption patterns as mirrored in the evolution of one type of Indian restaurant. The central theme here is that the deculturation-reculturation process that accompanied the Indo-Singaporean immigration resulted in the changing and Sanskritization (Srinivas 1978) of food preparation and consumption rules as practiced by the mostly non-caste Hindus among this group of immigrants.

This tracing of the historical roots of Indian migration is important to understand better the subsequent socio-cultural structures that were created and maintained by the immigrant groups. Critical to this discussion is the preservation and in many cases the reformation of such socio-cultural structures such as the caste system and embodied in such principles of purity or 'Shudth’ and 'Juthaa’ or pollution.

This paper makes the argument that the cycles of migration and remigration in the Indo-Singaporean context has resulted in a cycle of deculturationBreculturation from the original migration, which then has been overlaid in later post colonial periods by creolization and most lately through a process of remigration, of prodigalization. The historical and geographic changes have been reflected in socio-cultural shifts that have been mirrored in evolving food consumption scapes. The example of a South Indian Vegetarian restaurant is used to illustrate this complex and constantly shifting and layered consumptionscape.

Phase 2: Settlement and Reculturation/Sanskritization

In 1828 Thomas Raffles decided to organise the burgeoning population of Singapore (between 1819 B1839 the population grew 100% .The Raffles town plan of 1829 (Yee 1996) shows a careful zoning and localization of ethnic groups in a ghettoization quite common to British colonial town planners. In this plan the two largest ethnic groups- the Chinese and the Indians were located to the south of the Singapore river adjacent to the mercantile and commercial business district of Raffles place. Raffles conception of Singapore involved more than a purely racial/ethnic zoning Bit was also an occupational zoning. Such segregation the early immigrants resulted in a preservation of socio-cultural structures amongst them. Within the Indian immigrants groups this was especially true reinforcing the 'strong ties’ (ties between existing caste and kinship groups) and weakening 'weak ties’ (those with external communities in the host country)Bsee Granovetter M.S (1973). Thus the group/ caste/family labour migration patterns combined with the early ethnic segregation practiced by the host country to help and foster caste recreation within the Indian immigrant groups in Singapore.

In the post-colonial period this policy of 'ethnic zoning’ was dropped in favour of Lee Kuan Yew’s melting pot model of town planning where all residential buildings would have a proportionate mix of ethnic and racial groups. However the early zoning and isolation is apparent today in the existence of little urban enclaves that still serve as tourist drawcards. The Little India, Chinatown and the Arab Quarter are reminders of such ghettoization. These ethnic zones originally served as cradles of cultural 'survivals’ (see Khan 1994). They served as comfort zones for the uprooted immigrants going through a phase of deculturation and uprooting from their mother country. As Yee (1996) suggests these were contexts 'allowing a continuation of traditions such as language and diet and shields the immigrants from the shock of change of milieu and landscape" Additionally, these enclaves served as a conduit for cultural transformation and exchange between the host country and the 'old’ country resulting in a discourse of culture that even today is constantly altering the consumptionscapes of both countries.

In Singapore, enclaves of early Indian settlement concentrated around or within the city centre in a number of distinct subgroups each of which were relatively homogeneous in linguistic and occupational terms. The South Indian Chettiars and Moslem Tamils established an enclave adjacent to the Central Business District forming a community of financiers, moneylenders, petty traders and quayside workers. Sindhis, Gujaratis and Sikh textile traders concentrated in the High Street area and the South Indian dock side workers and railway workers settled in the neighbourhood of the docks. The Tamil shopkeepers moved into the Serangoon Road area and this became the heart of the enclave known today as 'Little India’. Serangoon Road was originally inhabited by Indians engaged in cattle-rearing activities, which in turn attracted the wheat grinders, gingelly oil processors and the pineapple preservers to the area. This economic nucleus was soon transformed into a thriving retail centre which it continues to be today.

It is in this setting that in 1947 that Indian immigrant entrepreneurs opened a number of 'pure vegetarian South Indian eateries’. As described earlier these were primarily an attempt to cater to the 'nostalgic’ immigrant palate. These restaurants were not however merely an attempt to satisfy the Indian immigrants need for 'authentic Indian cuisine’, it was also an attempt to recreate and in this case 'reinvent’ a socio-cultural system related to 'caste structure’. The traditional Hindu caste structure with its rigid food preparation and consumption rules only bound caste Hindus, of whom there were few among these mostly trader, non-caste and Muslim groups of immigrants. Through a process of Sanskritization, however, they adopted and reinvented these food consumption rules to abide by strict vegetarianism and food preparation methods (see discussion of sanskritization of religious practices among Malayasian plantation Indians in Jain 1988). Most of these eateries were very similar to the original South Indian notion of a 'pure vegetarian South Indian eatery’, but very often with one important difference, the original Indian version always had a Brahmin or caste Hindu who would oversee the overall food preparation and serving, to ensure that the rules of purity or 'shudth’ were maintained. In the Sanskritised version in Singapore this was no longer the case, pure vegetarian food was served, but not necessarily cooked by a caste Hindu. Vegetarianism was carefully followed (not even the consumption of animal fats or eggs was acceptable). To many of the immigrant sub-castes (apart from Gujarati Jains and caste Hindus), vegetarianism was not an original part of life in India. However in the new reculturation process they adopted this hallmark of the caste Hindu and carefully preserved it in the recreated cultural milieu.

This incarnation (avatar) of the new and revitalised South Indian vegetarian restaurant helped in reinventing the Indian immigrant culture in addition to catering to the palate of the Indian immigrant. Thus, in this form the original cuisine and menu remained largely unchanged, but the rules of 'shudth’ (purity principle of food preparation) were eased considerably. It catered to the nostalgia of the Indian immigrant’s memory of what South Indian Vegetarian restaurant food was, without adhering to the original raison d’etre of their existence (the need for restaurants that served food prepared in keeping with the principles of 'shudth’, so the caste Hindu could practice food consumption rules). It was therefore a recreation by the Indian immigrants of something that was never really a part of their own caste tradition. This was the second stage in the evolution of the modern day South Indian Vegetarian restaurant in which a migrant group attempted to reform shattered or disrupted cultural structures using changing eating habits to reinvent socio-cultural identity. This stage is seen as part of the larger attempt by the decultured immigrant to re-establish lost cultural traditions, this process being fostered by the early ethnic zoning and ghettoization of the colonial period in Singapore.

Phase 3 Creolization in the Post Colonial Period

In this stage the influences of the post colonial period are seen, especially that of the 'new cultural colonization’ by the American and other 'western’ cultures. During this time the creolization of food consumption habits and consumptionscapes of the Indo-Singaporean immigrant group changed in keeping with an increasingly 'westernised’ Singapore. This is characterised by the rising 'Asian Tiger’ economies which combined the 'Western’ work habits with the traditional 'Eastern’ values. The result of this collision and melding of cultural values and consumption patterns resulted in a creolization of food consumption (the term 'creolization of consumption’ is used in the sense that Arnould, Price and Zinkhan define it as 'consumption patterns that combine elements of the local and foreign consumption traditions’ 2002 p.167) or a 'Mcdonaldization’ (Ritzer 2000) of the recreated and already reinvented forms of South Indian Vegetarian restaurants and the services they offered. The fast-food phenomenon overtook the traditional recreation and resulted in a new and distinctly different form of food consumption-scape. Gone were the traditional sit-down fast service and emphasis on the 'traditional’ aspects of the food. The new Komalas restaurant is an example of this. The cuisine remained the same with the essentially 'Indian’. However creolization has added to the range offered on the menu to include North Indian specialties in addition to the traditional 'South Indian Tiffin’ type dishes. The clearest aspects of creolization can be seen in the consumption-scape itself. The uniformed staff and the self-service queues are the most obvious change. Standardisation and use of disposable plates and cutlery were also changes from the original form. Kids’ meals and value menu 'combo’ deals are obvious creolizations of the more traditional vegetarian restaurant. This form became very popular with the Indian immigrants as well as among non-Indian Singaporean population. The fast food form is popular among the Singaporean business customer, whose daily lunch options include the International food courts and other such quick lunch options. Thus, from the recreated and reinvented form of the Indian vegetarian eatery used to re-establish cultural structures amongst an immigrant population, the Indian vegetarian restaurant evolved into a transformed Indian fast food restaurant, combining the essential Indian cuisine with the central vegetarian theme, but with a modern and 'western’ spin on it to appeal to a wider and younger market. It also reflected the needs and tastes of the new generation of Indo-Singaporeans who grew up in communities that valued traditional Indian culture, while embracing the mixing of Eastern-Western market value systems.

Phase 4 Post modern Prodigalization

This stage has been fostered by the remigration and the deregulation of commercial exchanges between India and Singapore which encouraged Indo-Singaporean business people and entrepreneurs to look toward the ever burgeoning, and newly consumerist Indian markets. These nascent consumer markets beckoned to such entrepreneurs who strengthen the channels of cultural exchange and re-exchange. In this phase the Indian vegetarian fast food restaurant returned to India in a prodigal form, different from the original export, but embraced by the parent culture with enthusiasm. The prodigal has returned in a transformed but popular new avatar.

Komalas cultural roots lie in the early 20th century emergence of the 'brahmin style pure vegetarian eatery’ in South India, notably in Tamilnadu (Madras) state. Under the British Colonial rule Brahmins and caste Hindus (who had been co-opted by their rulers into the lower echelons of administrative power) would spend most of the day away from home and temple where they had hitherto practiced the traditional pre-colonial occupations of priests and administrators. The traditional 11o’clock main meal of the day that had to be cooked by a Brahmin who had ritually bathed before cooking and consumed under strict rules of purity ('shudth’) was no longer possible under the new colonial workday. Eating outside the home in a restaurant would break the purity rules of food consumption. To meet this need a new class of eatery emerged. These were manned by brahmin cooks who would prepare traditional 'Tiffin’ (the lunch box carried by those who carried food prepared at home to work) and regular meals for the (mostly) Brahmin and caste Hindu clientele.



In 1947 an Indian immigrant Murugiah Rajoo in Singapore opened such a 'Traditional South Indian Vegetarian’ restaurant in Singapore. This was the inception of the Komalas group of restaurants in Singapore. This was a reinvented version of the original Brahmin style vegetarian, in that it was vegetarian, but did not maintain the more complex caste-related aspects of food preparation. They were there to accommodate the mainly non caste Hindus and Moslem Indian immigrants. The Chettiar and other trader castes who inhabited Little India and surrounding areas were in most cases Hindus who were of the trader castes who did not necessarily have to maintain the strict food preparation and consumption habits of the Brahmins or caste- Hindus. In some cases (as with some subgroups among the Chettiars) even vegetarianism was not required by the caste group rules. However in an attempt to preserve and invent or in an act of cultural 'survival’ early Indian immigrants established the Indo-Singaporean version of the 'pure vegetarian South Indian 'restaurant. This could be seen as a result of a process of cultural 'Sanskritization’ (Srinivas 1972) and an attempt to overcome Indian immigrants’ initial sense of deculturation and cultural loss. This process of reculturation or reformation has been described by (Grieco 1998) in the context of labour migration and the Fijian Indian community.

In 1995 Komalas was set up by R.T Sekar and R.S Sekar (sons of M.Rajoo)in the heart of 'Little India’ at Upper Dickson road (subsequent branches were opened in N.Bridge road and Orchard Road). This was the next step in the evolution of the present day Komalas. The creolization of the original South .Indian Vegetarian restaurant was apparent in the 'vision of the founders’ statement ( "To Make Quality Indian Vegetarian Food Readily Available Internationally At Affordable Prices". It goes on to "Offer traditional food at affordable prices in a modern setting. It harnesses the strengths of the universal acceptance of vegetarianism and the convenience of fast food". The clear difference and distinction made from the original conception of the restaurant is the switch to the 'western notion of fast food’ and the more global menu- North Indian, South Indian, Chinese food are available as are vegetarian burgers, fries and the more 'western’ fast food items. This creolization is seen as being very characteristic of the Singaporean National culture itself. It lends itself very aptly to the officially expressed ideal of national identity of 'essential Asian values, with a world view’ (see Chua 1998). The Singaporeanization of McDonalds is used by Chua as an example of the need for 'western’ consumerist ideas needing to bow to the political ideology that critiques 'excessive westernization’. Thus this avatar (incarnation) of Komalas is no longer one that is aimed at the immigrant Indian market but at multi-ethnic Singapore which is merely a window to a larger globalised world market.

In the present avatar, the restaurant has returned to India in an act of prodigalization. Here the creolized form created in Singapore is presented to the market-place of its origins. Komalas in Chennai (Madras) is very different from the 'Brahmin-style Pure Vegetarian’ restaurant of the early 20th century. It must be pointed out that there has been a parallel evolution of the 'Brahmin style pure vegetarian’ restaurant in India. These have evolved into chain style restaurants with some modernization (Woodlands, Sharavana Bhavan and Sangeeta’s), but they all retain the sit down, service at the table type of approach and have all been forms that evolved from purely local roots. While Sanskritization and modernisation has occurred, creolizations of the kind that the Komalas restaurants display are not seen.

The Chennai Komalas advertises itself as the 'First International Indian Vegetarian Restaurant in India’ and describes itself as 'an Indian Vegetarian Restaurant originating in Singapore’ (source: Komalas Chennai Menu Card). Thus it is offering itself as a Singaporean restaurant which serves Indian Vegetarian food in a fast food setting to the Indian market where the Indian Vegetarian Restaurant already exists in many forms and variations. The entrance of the restaurant is graced by an anthropomorphized rolled up Dosai (the South Indian lentil pancake). This creature is one of the clearest attempts at McDonalization (Ritzer 2000), being a kind of Ronald McDonald icon (or a Rolled McDosai). It stands with cartoon eyes and arms extended in the typical Ronald McDonald gesture of welcome. The restaurant is located up a flight of steps, which brings you to a wall bearing many plaques and honors including the 'employee of the month’ (again the McDonald parallel is obvious. Turning from this wall there is an 'order point’. This consists of a number of the Komalas employees standing behind cash registers in caps and green striped shirts and solid green trousers (again the McDonaldization is apparent). Behind the cash registers are laminated walls bearing bright (rather lurid) pictures of the menu accompanied by English names of menu items. This is a touch of the Singaporeanization and very like the laminated picture menus seen in the All South East Asian food courts. This is especially clever seeing that children too young to read and older possibly non-English speakers/readers may be part of the clientele. The menu has 215 separate items including Chinese and International items (fried rice and French onion soup are hot favorites along with the Madras filter coffee and the Masala Dosai). The McDonaldization continues with offers of the Kids meal deals, burgers, fries and a drink offers along with combo deals and Mini meals (mini dosais fries and a drink type offerings). The meal is ordered and paid for and the customer than proceeds to the 'self-service pick up counter’ located opposite the order point. Here the tray with the standard issue paper place-mat with advertising is filled up with the trade mark simulated banana leaf pattern plastic plate with plastic dishes for the dipping chutneys and pickles, and plastic cups for the Madras filter coffee. The food is carried over to the plastic/ laminated tables with the high chair option. There is a refill point (for refills of dipping chutneys and accompaniments) and in one corner a digital CD jukebox with a difference. It belts out the latest Tamil movie hits that are best sellers in the Chennai and Singapore markets. The children play in the 'kiddie corner’ with climbing frames and other play equipment. The 'wash point’, is another unique creolization, a row of taps to wash hands before and after eating. This is a concession to the Indian customers’ preference to eating the dosai with their fingers. There is an almost self-conscious recognition of the creolization of this consumptionscape. This is manifest in the careful arrangement of the 'authentic’ scenes of traditional South Indian food preparation all around the eating area. One shows the traditional Brahmin cook (clad in white cotton sarong style garment called the 'dothi’ and wearing the caste identifier of the sacred thread over the left shoulder and across the chest leaning over a hot dosai 'tawa’(griddle). In another a 'tea kada’ (street-side tea stall) scene, where the tea stall man is seen cooling the customer’s hot tea in the traditional fashion- pouring it rapidly and in a series of 2 feet long arcs between two hot steel 'tumblers’(mugs), without spilling a drop. The pictures are all painted in a nostalgic sepia style colors and are clearly to be seen as depicting the cuisinary origins of Komalas itself. This is the presentBday avatar of Komalas.

Phase 6 Exported Creolization?

In the constant flux of creolization and recreolization that is a feature of the globalized markets and consumptionscapes today, the Komalas phenomenon does not stop with the prodigalization of the creolized form. Komalas plans on exporting their creolized idea to the Middle East (Oman), to Sri-Lanka, Malayasia and Australia. These are all countries with large expatriate Indian communities and in addition, have large non- Indian communities with a taste for Indian food. The next phase in this may well be the export of such a creolized form. Thus the movement of the cultural and social transformation surrounding this particular food consumptionscape is still evolving.


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Teresa Davis, University of Sydney


NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 30 | 2003

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