Back in late December 2015, Aziz Ansari went to Trivandrum, Kerala, a few hours from where his parents were raised. Fans were excited to see the Master of None star sharing the sights and sounds of his trip on social media.
— India West (@IndiaWest) December 26, 2015
— BuzzFeed (@BuzzFeed) December 30, 2015
Now writing for T Magazine (the New York Times Style Magazine), Ansari reflects on his trip to India and his identity and his place in the world. Readers get more visuals of the trip with two slide shows and a video, offering additional images beyond those shared by the actor on social media last year.
One photo slide show is from senior features editor Nicholas Haramis, who captions one image of Ansari standing on the street near a group of men with “While he wasn’t always recognized as an actor, Ansari and the photographer often drew crowds of curious onlookers.” Another street image, with Ansari in a sea of sari-clad woman, gets the caption “This is my favorite photo from the trip, because it so perfectly articulates Ansari’s complicated relationship to his Indian roots.”
Being stared at by people in India just seems like the norm for anyone in India, including visitors such as desis who travel back to India from the global diaspora. So it’s not immediately clear why that image conveyed the complexity of Ansari’s identity. Of course, Ansari has his own thoughts on what best articulates his complicated relationship to his Indian roots.
For a celebrity with known and well-documented foodie tendencies, it may seem natural that Ansari culturally identifies with a dish. What you might not expect is that the dish is Kentucky Fried Chicken’s basmati bowl topped with popcorn chicken. Like himself, a guy who grew up eating the food made by his Indian mother and his African-American housekeeper, he finds the bowl to be “a peculiar hybrid of two vastly different cultures.”
Watch Ansari experiencing one of his favorite dining experiences of 2015 — banana-leaf style — in Trivandrum’s Chalai Market at Hotel Mubarak, where there are no plates and no menus.
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