In April, we -Vivita and Avneet, the co-founders of The Wishing Chair, released the "Delights of Distraction" newsletters; a grab-bag of some of our favorite links across the internet that lent some diversion, inspiration, and solace during these unsettling times. We hope to continue this weekly correspondence as long as it resonates with you, our readers - our true sources of joy and delight.
The pandemic world is closing in... what seemed like a distant threat that happened to "other" people down the road, is now in our direct orbit. A close friend circle have been infected and quarantined, one of our grandmother's is in ICU, hopefully on her road to recovery from the virus. The promise, baked into the name of our newsletter, seems to be that every week we write something to the extent of, "Hey look! The world is burning like a dumpster fire, piling up higher everyday over our horizons - let's listen to some soothing tunes! Let's meditate on art and poetry!" When probably the only valid response is to drink oneself into oblivion (you cannot look upon this current climate in absolute sobriety and still stay sane, can you? If you can, please write in and tell us how). We don't have immunity to COVID 19 yet, but we're starting to become resistant to positive ways of looking at the pandemic.
But we will continue to write in - to assert for ourselves as much as for you : one day at a time. Things could be worse. Practise gratitude. We are lucky to be alive and have the opportunity to learn what is essential. All the anxiety and treadmill traps and rat races before Covid was 97.6% meaningless. You just keep on keeping on - and we're kind of making it up as we go. Here's two quotes that ring true for right now - one from a writer philosopher and another from an iconic actor (who survived, among other things, seven divorces!)
"What saves a man is to take a step. Then another step. It is always the same step, but you have to take it."
~Antoine de Saint-Exupery, author of The Little Prince
“You just do it. You force yourself to get up. You force yourself to put one foot before the other, and Goddamn it, you refuse to let it get to you. You fight. You cry. You curse. Then you go about the business of living. That’s how I’ve done it. There’s no other way.”
- Elizabeth Taylor
And now end of rant. We hope our faves of the week have something to stir your kindred spirits:
To Joy Scroll: A whimsical ode to treasured yet random memorabilia; the Museum of Broken Relationships is a "physical and virtual public space created with the sole purpose of treasuring and sharing your heartbreak stories and symbolic possessions. It is a museum about you, about us, about the ways we love and lose." At its core, the Museum showcases a collection of mementos of a relationship past, accompanied by a personal, yet anonymous story of its contributor. The collections feature all sorts of idiosyncratic trophies: belly button lint, gastric-acid pills, puppets, a watch, a cigarette case, a pair of handcuffs. Here's a personal note accompanying an old Key ring: "At one time we used it to lock the doors of the life we shared, and now I see the damage caused by the passing of time. Love is long gone; the wind blew the happiness away; and the sun dried the sorrow. Looking back on our journey when we were holding hands, I remember the scenery we had travelled through together while it was showering outside. Forever turned out to be never, Leaving only a gap."
To Read: An interesting article on identity: A parent reflects on experiences with his teenage son, who insists that being a certain “type” of person dictates his actions and not the other way around. This idea that you have an identity first, and that your behavior is shaped around your identity, is problematic. It absolves people of accountability for their actions (sorry, that’s just the way I am!) and it plays into the dangerous internet idea that a curated social media feed is more indicative of who you are than the way you show up in your daily life. “You know how I’m a low-empathy person?” No, man, I do not know that. It turned out he listened to a podcast about how some people don’t feel other people’s suffering as deeply as everyone else, and he decided that’s why he’ll probably act selfish forever."
To Explore: Here's the cheapest form of time travel that you can dedicate several lazy hours to , exploring the ways the English language has shifted and changed over the millennia. With Merriam-Webster’s Time Traveler tool, you can browse what new words were first used in years dating all the way back to 1500 (and even earlier). The term "selfie" was introduced in 2002, way before Instagram, though funnily enough "body-shaming" was introduced soon after Instagram became an ubiquitous app, in 2012 - Coincidence? Also, "social distancing" was a term used back in 2003, right when SARS first hit.
To Watch: The days of MTV playing a stream of music videos as opposed to reality television porn has been relegated to our teen years, so we don't end up watching music videos as much, but this one, released six years ago by Oren Lavie is amongst our top favourites - it's literally dreamy, and stunning in its artistry, (also perhaps the reason why we wake up so tired in the morning...). This one's a more current ear worm, that you can't help but bop your head to - much like this 3D animated pigeon that busts its moves on the sidewalk with undeniable swag. The song “Who Dat” by Emmit Fenn features a fancy footworking feathered friend that's just too "coo" for skool!
To Listen: Drool-worthy Riz Ahmed, British-Pakistani rapper, actor and the activist is out with a new song, I Miss You, dedicated to the ones we miss and the ones we have lost. The lyrics articulate truth for a faith, community, culture and generation.
"I miss you
I miss seeing you
being with you
breathing with you
Eating your food
No one else makes do pyaza as sweet as you do
and no one else can try to tell me what not to do
Secretly, you are my compass needle, the epitome of my people."
To Cook: We came across this list of the best cookbooks according to the writer, Helen Rosner; a celebration of her favourite physical forms of the omnibus of recipes we are used to mostly reading in digital form. While this list is by no means extensive or comprehensive (it doesn't mention any Indian chefs), it does feature one of our most beloved gastro-personalities, Samin Nosrat - who penned the cookbook masterclass Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat which inspired the Netflix series by the same name. This recipe for Ligurian focaccia, featured in the “Fat” episode of Salt Fat Acid Heat, is counter-intuitive with its salt brining step at the end, but it ends up making a gorgeously brown and perfectly crisp bread. You just stir together a few ingredients, let it sit overnight, then shape and bake until golden.
To Wear: Guess what's clocking on fashion runways as the Fall 2020 fashion trend? A fashion statement we can grab on with both hands and not let go, because this one really speaks to our inner couch potato soul...Blankets! Yes, the humble "kambal" has been reimagined in various trendy ways by fashion houses from Kenzo to Chloe. So go get your favourite Jaipuri quilt and drape yourself a "bespoke" cape.
And finally a poem that echoes our feelings of fatigue:
Tired by Langston Hughes
I am so tired of waiting,
For the world to become good
And beautiful and kind?
Let us take a knife
And cut the world in two -
And see what worms are eating
At the rind.
Stay Safe & Keep Shining,
Viv and Ami
(P.S.: Not sure you noticed, we made ourselves a new logo for the newsletter. Scroll up to the top incase you missed it - tell us what you think. We also put up a pick of our personal favorite TWC products on our website and made a little Viv & Ami logo for that as well. Check it out here.)