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.
In March, right before poo-poo hit the proverbial fan, the studio at TWC were making big plans for Diwali - designing new packaging, gift ideas and festive visual merchandise for the biggest retail event of the year. Diwali 2020 was going to be bigger than ever! Like you, we were blissfully ignorant of the impending, unimaginable crisis that was about to swallow the next 7 months in chaos, uncertainty and a new kind of limbo.Time eked out so slowly that month. Then summer was upon us, and we tumbled into our new routines (or lack of them), learning what keeps us sane and what makes us scream into our pillows. Tears were shed. Zoom gatherings were zoomed. Masala Lays family packs were ordered and consumed. Souls were searched, lost, found and lost again.
We looked up from our laptops, and it's 7 months later, like a quick-fire movie montage. The air is thick with smoke, the darkness sets in an hour earlier and masks are a sartorial mainstay. We have not traversed mapped territory, yet we seem to have come a long way. As the least season turns in the unforgettable year of 2020 - we'd like to know how you have been doing? What coping mechanisms have you harvested to keep the demons of despair at bay? Have you taken up gardening? Therapeutic origami? Sourdough baking? Stoic philosophy? What keeps you upright and moving forward?
One of us has taken up dog ownership. It's been life-changing. Taco is an adopted mix-breed from the Friendicoes animal shelter - a spirited, skinny little 7kg puppy that has grown into a 35 kg bouncing beast of hyper-energy, naughtiness, and limitless love. He's tested and taught us patience (ooh, the unending patience required), the discipline to be immune to puppy-dog eyes when he commits a boo-boo, and to echo his capacity for forgiveness. Dogs never seem to hold a grudge - whether he's been punished or deprived of a treat - this bi-pedal companion will always come bounding at us with excitement, probably thinking that no matter how bad it might have been 5 minutes ago, it's going to be amazing now...a spark of enthusiasm and hope for a better future always alive in his heart. We are hoping to learn & embibe this lovely quality from Taco.
And now time for our faves of the week:
To Joy Scroll:If you've been following us so far, you would be familiar with our low-key obsession with nostalgia ; that ineffable, melancholic yet fond yearning for things in our past that we seek out for solace and a sense of foundation. It's for that reason that we love the works of Frank Moth who creates digital collages in the form of nostalgic postcards, from a distant but at the same time familiar future.
To Read: 2020 has been the worst year ever right? We've petitioned for it to be cancelled, rebooted, forgiven for all its debt and sins. But according to this article by NatGeo - it's NOT!
There were many, many worse years, but it's our unhealthy media consumption and our tendency to look back at our past with rose-tinted glasses that makes it seem so. A more realistic view could provide respite from this year's stress.
To Explore: That earworm that's echoing in your head and you kinda sorta knew the tune, but can't for the life of you remember the words or the name of the song? In the old days, you'd have to torture the person closest to you, asking them if they knew what you were talking about (they didn't) and finally give up till it hits you three days later in the shower. Well, now you can hum the tune to your Google phone, and it tells you your song.
To Do: It's so called "festive" season, and not everyone can fly their loved ones to a private island to celebrate pandemic-free, a la Kim Kardashian. We may not be able to meet our loved ones this time, to share sweets, play cards, but that doesn't mean we don't miss our friends. Well - Tell your friends that you miss them. This year more than ever, we need to feel connected, wanted and like we belong. Drill an automated response, that when you think of someone you message them and tell them. You brighten their day, deepen your relationship and make yourself feel good in the process.
To Listen: David Whyte is an Irish poet and philosopher with a soothing gravelly voice like old shoes hitting soft, lush earth. His interviews are revelations in wisdom and lyrical meditations. He manages to open your eyes to the world's tiny fascinations. For example, he taught us that "humiliation" is a terrible feeling, but a beautiful world. It comes from the Latin word humus, which means soil. So being humiliated is like returning to the ground of your being. Only by shedding those illusions of selfhood do you confront your own fragility.We recommend you listen this interview with Krista Tippett, or just listen to his voice reading the poem we first recommended during the pandemic, Everything is Waiting for You.As you listen, your soul will fill up with the warmth of the afternoon's sun, streaming in through your window on an early winter day.
To Cook: A beautifully written tribute to the dessert of our childhood memories, canteens, army messes and clubhouses - the ubiquitous, humble custard. This article details the fascinating history of custard in India, one of the first foods to ever be packaged, the Brown and Poulson powders were sold way before Maggi and Rasna arrived on the scene!And for good measure - here's a standard custard recipe with a little twist - fruit custard tarts with a bajra shell crust.
We'd like to end with this thought ; that the world may have not gone as you had planned, but by radically letting yourself go, we can submit ourselves to what this beautiful, terrible crazy world has in store for us...
“Because of the routines we follow, we often forget that life is an ongoing adventure…and the sooner we realize that, the quicker we will be able to treat life as art: to bring all our energies to each encounter, to remain flexible enough to notice and admit when what we expected to happen did not happen. We need to remember that we are created creative and can invent new scenarios as frequently as they are needed.”
– Maya Angelou
And again, let us know how you've been doing? Do write us - every voice that comes out from a corner of our world, helps us feel a little less alone.
Keep on keeping on,
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.)