I’m a sucker for shiny, new things. Antiques especially leave me cold. Wandering through Kochi’s Jew Town—where every second shop trades in ‘junk’—I was arrested by the cheerfully utilitarian display at C.K. Prabhakaran’s , a spice shop. The stuff was clearly good and dirt-cheap too. Embarrassing amounts of nutmeg, mace, cinnamon, peppercorns (black and green) and vanilla pods were promptly purchased. Where was I going to put it all? I needed my own spice box. I asked for one at Crafters. They only kept old ones—gnarled and varnished entities from a bygone era. “But I want something I can use.” They could get me one, they said. Minutes later this rubber wood beauty was presented to me. Damage: Rs 300.

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