The Delights of Distraction No.39

It’s only the second month of 2021, and for us, both personally and on the socio-political Indian landscape  - it still feels like we’re hurtling on fire down a rollercoaster without our seatbelts on. 

But we’re a newsletter on distraction, NOT the news - our job is to provide seismic moments of relief - so we’re hunkering down on the distribution success of the vaccine and going to fantasize about the various ways we are planning to experience bursts of joy once we are ALL vaccinated. Here’s our list:

· HUG all our friends, family and their respective kids.. And their pets. 

· Throw a huge bachelorette party. It doesn’t matter if we’re not getting married or are already married - we just want to wear silly costumes, invite all our girlfriends, go bar-hopping, get drunk, talk to strangers, embarrass ourselves and crash at someone else’s home.

· Go to a movie cinema to watch a big, bad blockbuster.  We will arrive early and buy an ungodly amount of popcorn, and diet coke and watch all the trailers and  hear strangers in the audience chuckle, whistle or talk loudly on their cellphones. Sigh, we miss the camaraderie of strangers in the dark.

· Go eat street food at Chandini-chowk - and we will take the metro! Or any form of public transportation. 

· Go to a music concert. It doesn’t matter which, as long as we can be part of a big, anonymous crowd. We miss that feeling of collectivity, of being an ant in the colony.

· Go to Thailand. Then to Bali. (not sure if we will ever come back)

· Invite all our friends over for meals and we’re going to eat so much good food and drink an inappropriate amount of cocktails. We are going to laugh and eat too much dessert, and dance to 90s Bollywood songs and hug each other goodbye and then make plans to do it again the next day. 

In the interim, we’re going to keep collecting our faves of the week:

To Play: If you’re looking to deflate someone’s ego a little bit, send them this link to play with - Judge my Spotify - it’s a satirical website that uses a faux, pretentious music-loving AI to sarcastically crack jokes about the artistes in your playlists. How bad is our musical taste? Well according to them - very bad. Like = “dad-rock-pourover-coffee-snob-omg-high-school-is-over bad.” We are duly chastened. 

To Read: "The pandemic has evaporated entire categories of friendship, and by doing so, depleted the joys that make up a human life—and buoy human health. But that does present an opportunity. In the coming months, as we begin to add people back into our lives, we’ll now know what it’s like to be without them."  We think the coinage of the term "friendquaintance," while terrible, is also useful and necessary. 

This is an action-packed portrait of Robert Clive, also known as Clive of India, an "erratic sociopath" who conquered Bengal on behalf of the British East India Company in 1757, looted the treasury, made himself as governor, forced farmers to grow opium, caused a famine that killed 10 million, piled up a vast fortune, and then killed himself at the age of 49, slitting his throat with a paper knife.

This is a “banger” of a story,  - the oral history of the iconic ear-worm, “Mundian To Bachke Rahi,”. It traces through the memory of homelands, both the Punjabi pind and post-industrial England, and serves as  a reminder that everything we identify as ‘ours’ in culture began somewhere personal.

To Joy Scroll: 23-year old  Juho Könkkölä makes complex origami characters inspired by folktales, myths, history, and nature that can require several thousand folds, and they’re all made out of a single square sheet of paper. His origami creatures are impossibly intricate and can take weeks to fold and finish. Scroll through his creations,  and read more about him.

To Watch: This video is 4 minutes of a breathtakingly choreographed troupe of dancers sitting cross-legged. It’s hypnotic, geometric and masterfully coordinated.  Also, as fans of  Wes Anderson’s movies for their inimitable style, we adored Isle of Dogs, an epic stop-motion masterpiece. Because each frame has been designed and crafted in miniature -  it’s his most visually stylistic movie yet. Also - the peculiar story concerns a deadly urban pandemic derived from an animal, the spread of conspiracy theories, the denial of science, and a contested election. It was released in 2018, but it seems like it was made yesterday. 

To Listen: A great, short commencement speech about how ‘keeping our options open’ or FOMO, is very much part of our zeitgeist and often an obstruction to achieving anything worthwhile. “When Hollywood tells tales of courage, they usually take the form of slaying the dragon. It’s all about the big brave moments. But I’ve been learning from these heroes that the most menacing dragons that stand in the way of reforming the system or repairing the breach are the everyday boredom and distraction and uncertainty that can erode our ability to commit to anything for the long haul.” Also kudos to the speech for introducing us to the term, “Liquid modernity.”

To Cook: There’s a reason the recipe for “Basque Burnt Cheesecake” is trending on Tik Tok across the world - because it’s the easiest cheesecake you’ll ever make in your life.  It consists of a very short list of ingredients and it’s almost impossible to over bake because, you know…it’s burnt and all. To make it, you mix up the ingredients, pour it into your pan, and bake. No water bath, no temperature changes, no pesky crust  -  just let it do it’s thing. Seriously low maintenance and seriously delicious. 

To Learn: Language is changing faster than ever, and to stay on top of culture trends it seems like we need to keep learning new words to add to our everyday lexicon. These are a list of new words and terms Webster dictionary has added this quarter, a marker of the way Covid-19 has affected our speech, the way we work, and social media. Interesting new entry: Second Gentleman : the husband or male partner of a vice president or second in command of a country or jurisdiction.

That’s all folks! Ending with a few beautiful lines:

they ask me to remember

but they want me to remember

their memories

and i keep on remembering


—Lucille Clifton, Why some people be mad at me sometimes

We would love to hear from you - how are you creating things to look forward to right now? We would love to know how you’re building room for joy and relief in your own calendars, and what future fantasies you hold.

Viv & Ami


P.S. Galentine’s Day is celebrated each year on February 13, the day before Valentine’s Day. Typically, lady loves get together to celebrate their friendship with mimosas and manicures. 
But, in 2021?  With brunch in large gatherings at chi-chi restaurants off the table, we’ve got to get creative in how we show our female friends that they matter to us (and if 2020 was good for anything, it weeded out what and who matters). We can still keep our besties close to our hearts, even if not close to our person - and we have some ideas you can send them that might make them feel that little bit special.

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