Sunday, 26 February 2017

Say it with Chocolate

-Brian Mendonça

Chocolates. Can anyone resist them?

At this moment I am munching into a chocolate bar with Galaxy written in brown chocolaty cursive on the crimp. It is a 42 gm bar, with the writing ‘Smooth Milk’ to go under the G word. Each of the bits has ‘g’ on it as if to reinforce the brand.  The chocolate is from the Mars stable which has a plethora of choices. When i went to their website I was informed that I had just taken a bite of history. It read, ‘Smooth and creamy GALAXY chocolate is your perfect partner in chocolate indulgence. Since its launch in 1960, GALAXY has seen strong growth that continues to strengthen year on year. The GALAXY brand, which includes GALAXY Smooth Milk, MINSTRELS and RIPPLE, stands for 'me-time' indulgence, femininity and sensuousness.’*

The feminization of chocolate deserves attention. Countless international brands like Ferrero Rocher, Leonidas and Oreo have women as the subject of their advertisements. The chocolate is  projected as being as desirable as the woman in the ad – or adding to her desirability. In a blatant appeal to basic instincts the Vero ad promoting dark chocolate, appeals to its viewers not to deny their dark side. Exploring race relations, Haagen Dazs, has a submissive black woman with a white lollipop  in her mouth.

Spurred by a chocolate-making workshop, I felt it would be a good idea to ride on the crest of the wave.  On the heels of Valentine’s Day, when the young are inundated with sweetness, this would be the right time to go in for the kill.  How could I involve, often apathetic students in college, in activities which had something to do with chocolate? Considering the aversion of students to write these days, we invited poems, writings, experiences, and recipes on chocolate. Where the submissions were not forthcoming we went into class and solicited them.  Interestingly, some of these reluctant students, after due prodding, walked away with the first place! The synergy saw a flurry of activity, with even android phones decidedly taking a back seat. It prodded young adults to emerge out of their comfort zone and gave them something to talk and write about. As votaries of  incidental learning we deployed the cliché ‘Say it with chocolate’ for English language skill development.

On a day dedicated to chocolate on campus, students marshalled power-point presentations and journeyed across nations to discover how chocolate was made, its literary influences. They waxed eloquent about the chocolate-making workshop conducted by Planet J and coordinated seamlessly by Maria Fernandes.  Jovito Lopes spoke about the health benefits of dark chocolate.  To generate interest he showed several intricate figures – all made in chocolate.  Roxana Singh regaled the audience with her reading from Como Agua Para Chocolat [Like Water for Chocolate] written by first-time Mexican novelist Laura Esquivel in 1989. Curtains came down on the event with a screening of the film Chocolat (2000) starring Juliette Binochet, Judy Dench and Johnny Depp. 
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------* Published in Gomantak Times Weekender, St. Inez, Goa on Sunday, 26 February 2017

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