The Delights of Distraction No.37

Back in the naive, innocent years of early 2020, we read this article, “In 2020, Skip Your Resolutions — Embrace a Vice”. Who knew that later in 2020, we wouldn't just embrace a single vice - but ALL of them? For many of us, lockdown decimated any hopes for healthy eating and exercise we had and gently nudged us into coping mechanisms  like comfort pasta-Maggi bingeing, daily happy hours at 4pm (okay, 11am), horizontal sleep positions while working, and stress smoking. 

Our reasons for embracing a vice? Feeling good. In 2020 we desperately grasped at anything that would take the edge off, distract us from reality, and straight up feel less doom-ridden.  So - why should we stop in 2021? When the pandemic is over and we are all happily vaccinated -  we cannot expect to immediately convert into primed, perfectly coiffed and healthy balanced human beings.

We need to heal. We need to mourn. We need self-compassion. As the first couple of weeks of 2021 has proved: nothing has changed yet, so why should we?   

Despite the spate of Indian weddings (and parts of Goa) blissfully unaware there's a virus raging, the pandemic has taken away our ability to gather, a primal human need which contributed to a range of activities that gave us enjoyment. Naturally, we still want to feel good. At the bare minimum we want to survive. There is a line between self-preservation and self-destruction of course. However, let’s leave the self-help shame back in 2019. If a glass of wine (or 4) each night is your vice for relaxation, cool! If you need a packet of Masala Lays to get through that online course, great!  If you’re not belting out an HIIT set every 6 hours in your bedroom to keep up the steps count on your fitbit - that's fine. 

We are living through a chaotic, painful, traumatic period of history. To relieve yourself of the shame associated with a ‘bad’ habit is the kindest gift you could bestow on your mental health during the pandemic. In fact there are even books, that suggest that booze, sex, trash talk and tripping built our civilizations! 

We’re human after all, we seek coping methods to survive. And btw, life is short, so enjoy it while you can!

And with that, here's our favourites of the week:

To Read: A delicious long read: an inspiring story of serendipity and personal discovery by the acclaimed novelist, Ann Patchett, that begins with an unexpected friendship with Tom Hanks' assistant, some adventures with psychedelics and much whole-hearted self-learning along the way. A wise exhortation by Ryan Holiday, to stop waiting for things to go back to normal.  And an interesting theory on how the next decade will be the roaring twenties when it comes to "drugs" because everyone seems to be on them!

To Joy Scroll: Ted Chin’s surreal dreamland merges idyllic landscapes and outdoor scenes with fantastical details - such as a giant octopus underneath a floating house. The images, both uncanny and calming,  inspire a childlike wonder and awe, and is visual storytelling at its best.

To Wellness: Mental and physical wellness have been redefined in the wake of 2020, with priorities revised to put them at the top of most personal goal lists and the means to use technology and creativity to power-surge these goals. From CBD to personal pleasure gadgets, this article details the emerging wellness movements for 2021.  

To Cook: As people with a friend circles that harbour various venn diagrams of dietary restrictions  - from vegan, to gluten free to keto - we're always on the hunt for recipes that can accommodate these diets. So this searchable recipe database was just the ticket. The database pulls from over 2 million recipes and allows you to search for any keyword or combination of keywords to find recipes that suit your needs.  So we typed in "vegan, gluten free dessert" (yes, we know, an unholy union that shouldn't exist) and amongst many hits, resulted in this surprisingly palatable Lemon Olive oil cake
But this vegan cake was our favourite, an eggless, butterless carrot cake, made easy with delicious results. If you're looking for an eggless cake, but can't be bothered with ovens and mixing bowls, then head on over to our bakeshop and order our eggless carrot cake. We've been told it's pretty darned good. 

To Listen: Mahima Dayal aka Bawari Basanti is a talented Indie musician who was trained in Hindustani classical singing by her grandmother, though her throaty voice and electronic influences have allowed her to create a distinctly dreamy and unique sound. Listen to the folksy, cheeky ‘Khabar Mein Raho’ and the moodier though gorgeously sung, ‘Underwater’.

To Watch: In this quirky animation, that begins with a whimsical premise and ends with a punch in the heart: a man is hired to compile the definitive history of human existence before the planet blows up.How does he decide  who are the names and faces that deserve to be remembered - the memories that deserve to be immortalized and those that should be destroyed. A beautiful, endearing, 4 minute watch. Also watch Soul, streaming on Hostar. There is a lot going on in Pixar’s new movie, from  imagining the afterlife in detail, including beings of light, celestial birthing rings, tunnels to the beyond, astral travel, and short circuiting the system, the movie stays with you long after you've watched it -  and also happens to cast one of our favourite comedians in the world, Tina Fey.

To Play: Writing poetry can be both mortifying and seem quite impossible, for the sheer talent and ability to convey multiple layers of depth and emotion without sounding like a cheesy Archie's card. There's AI to the rescue again, a machine-learning site, that poses as your muse and prompts you to write verse akin to the masters like Edgar Allen Poe and Emily Dickinson. 

You start with a sentence, choose the style of poetry you like, and it helps you along. For example, we started a simple statement : "Somedays waking up in the morning is hard" - and this was the stanza that was co-created in under two minutes:

Somedays waking up in the morning is hard,
Black secrets hurried into my mind,
How out they dropped in the presumed night
Last of the ones we should seek the light!

Deep, eh? ;) Go try it !

Finally we would like to end with some REAL poetry, this one did the rounds last year and is a celebration of life and sisterhood and reminds us of pretty much every scene in Fleabag:

To the Woman Crying Uncontrollably in the Next Stall
 by Kim Addonzio

If you ever woke in your dress at 4am ever
closed your legs to a man you loved opened
them for one you didn’t moved against
a pillow in the dark stood miserably on a beach
seaweed clinging to your ankles paid
good money for a bad haircut backed away
from a mirror that wanted to kill you bled
into the back seat for lack of a tampon
if you swam across a river under rain sang
using a dildo for a microphone stayed up
to watch the moon eat the sun entire
ripped out the stitches in your heart
because why not if you think nothing &
no one can / listen I love you
joy is coming.

We are hope you are wrapped up in joy, whether that means basking in sunlight, cuddled up in Pjs or sending out light to whatever moves you - have a wonderful weekend,

Viv & Ami


P.S. If you are still working from home, here's a few things we recommend you can use to zhuzh up your home office.

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