The Delights of Distraction No.29

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.

*Sigh* The smell of 300 AQI in the morning! Smog in the skyline, the snaking of bottle-necked traffic, smattering of fire-cracker sounds at night (despite being banned)... Diwali is in the air! And yet, it's not the same.. at all. This time last year, you would have probably been wafting through various Diwali melas peppered across the city, buying new clothes and gifts, refreshing your homes, planning and attending taash parties, culminating in the final puja and Diwali party of your dearest ones. 

Our Diwali tradition is to celebrate with our friends, after attending family pujas, at one particular home. This year, we had decided to make it just 8 of us - culling it down from 60, in responsible new-corona tradition. But now the home we had planned has been quarantined, one is a care-giver for a C19 patient and two are recovering from it. Since we are counting blessings, it's great that everyone is on the road to recovery, but.... this sucks!

Our attempts to get together and just have good old-school fun, away from the doom-scrolling and loneliness of being cooped up at home, is getting harder and harder.According to this article in Vox, we're not alone in this. Apparently most people are finding it impossible to have fun during the pandemic when we have been stripped of the freedom to make spontaneous, unbridled decisions.We “have” fun and we “fall” in love; neither experience is framed as a voluntary choice. Instead, they are occurrences that happen to us. We cannot force ourselves to have fun the same way we cannot strong-arm our way into falling in love. This rare, beautiful loss of control is liberating. In our most fun memories and in our deepest loves, we were swept up and away from ourselves, whether we liked it or not.

But - being an adult requires a certain suspension of disbelief. We must believe things will get better, that WE will get better. The unknown is scary but it is also a gift; a promise that things might improve,( just as they might get worse). It is precisely at that pivot of possibility and unknowing, that enables life’s greatest joys, like having fun and falling in love, and life’s greatest heartaches, like losing a loved one and losing faith.In the bleakness, we are promised the possibility of light. Afterall, the festival of lights is upon us and the reflected sparkle of  people lighting their diyas and candles in hope and prayer, is itself enough to keep us trudging forward.

And now - our fave distractions for the week: 

To Read: A warm, moving and life-affirming story by an author who teaches children refugees (from Bangladesh to Syria) in England. Their trauma, loss and memories of the country they left behind are brought forth through poetry; and the results are astonishingly inspiring. 

To Listen: If you've been following this newsletter, you'd be familiar by now, with our obsession with nostalgic totems, especially throwbacks to the 90s. This one is an oldie but somehow slid into our recommendation list the other day - and damn it's still so good. A mash-up of ad jingles that pay tribute to the tunes that defined our childhood, against slick editing and top-notch musicality. No instruments - just beat-boxing and serious acapella skills.

To Joy Scroll: Film and literary art come together in perfect artistic conjunction with these series of graphic illustrations: reimagining the artist's favourite movies as 80s retro book covers, a gorgeous mix of surrealist, art deco and minimally futuristic art, decoding the crux of the movie in a single frame. We loved them all, but some of our favourites include the covers for Parasite, The Dark Knight and Fight Club.

To Zone out and Zone in: One of the few ways we manage to drown out the infernal racket is by wearing a pair of headphones and playing the sounds of coffee shop chatter at the Rainy Cafe website.  Apparently this kind of sound, "induces distraction which encourages individuals to think at a higher, abstract level, and consequently exhibit higher creativity.”

To Cook: During lockdown, some of us cooking noobs looked to Hebbar's Kitchen as the idiot's guide to Desi cooking. With simple recipes and easy to follow videos, she comfortingly navigated the spice-laden daunting world of varied Indian recipes for us. If you're staying in for Diwali (as most of us are), you can capture a certain sense of festivity by trying out some easy diwali sweets recipes. We recommend the coconut barfi and gulab jamun. For an extra dollop of seasonal goodwill - distribute to friends and family! 

To Watch: Poet Tanya Davis, along with Canadian Production, The Curve have paired up to create this wonderful little film that brings her poignant poem to life. We think it's a beautiful gift for everyone right now. 

"The heartbreak of this astounds you
it joins old aches way down in you
you can visit them, but please don’t stay there.

Go outside if you’re able, breathe the air
there are trees for hugging
don’t be embarrassed
it’s your friend, it’s your mother, it’s your new crush
lay your cheek against the bark, it’s a living thing to touch

If this disruption undoes you
if the absence of people unravels you
if touch was the tether that held you together
and now that it’s severed you’re fragile too
lean into loneliness and know you’re not alone in it
lean into loneliness like it is holding you
like it is a generous representative of a glaring truth
oh, we are connected
we forget this, yet we always knew."

Hold fast and stay true,

Viv and Ami


(P.S. Diwali season is here and it's a different one with safety being paramount but you can still stay spaarkling in the safety of your home. Check out some very whimsical lighting here.)

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