The Delights of Distraction No.38

In a burgeoning world of newsletters, from bona fide writers, thinkers and policy makers to entrepreneurs like ourselves peddling wares - we are so grateful that our Delights of Distraction Newsletter manages to make it past your spam folder. 

Other than promotional block-worthy dross, writing on the internet is divided into two types: transactional and relational.

Transactional is when you glance at your face in the mirror under harsh tube-lights and hastily google “blackheads on nose” and the top results shot out are “10 Natural Ways to Obliterate Blackheads from your Nose Forever".  You click on it, you get your dumbed-down answers, you end up evicting those nasty pustules from your sniffer (though more likely you end up creating a Rudolph-inspired burning rash instead) and move on. You don't seek the publication or writer out again. 

Relational is why you seek out a particular blog, newsletter or a podcast. You don’t know exactly what the deal is going to be every week  - but you like their point of view, so you tune in, no matter what they happen to talk about.   

When we write to you here, we're not actively tackling a problem which we promise to the reader we can solve (some of us still have blackheads), but we're trying to navigate and sift through the vicissitudes and vagaries of living on this planet, at this particular time, as women of a particular age, trying to make a particular idea work. And we hope that taking you with us, helps unlock thoughts within you, or at the very least, helps you, once in a while find something interesting.

In reality, navigating through the world with an idea of learning and improvement is a muddy, two steps forward, 3 steps sideways, one shuffle backwards type of process. You never really learn how to stop screwing up (we all do, we always will), but one hopes to screw up less frequently and recognize and correct those mistakes quicker. There are rarely eureka moments or epiphanies that transform your life into a shiny perfect sitcom, with funny catchphrases and a walk-in closet - but there are incremental moments that add up over a long time. 

But that’s not the narrative that gets clicks! The narrative that gets clicks is the standard Western story structure — start with the hero at their lowest point (black-head and pimpled skin), and show how they rose triumphant (skin like a supermodel baby's bottom!)

We click on all that stuff too  - we're suckers for the click-baity headlines that  promise that holy grail that will help us lose weight  / feel more mentally alert /  drive more sales/ have more energy/ get perfect skin. One of us stuck a mask of toothpaste on our face because of one of those articles! (No - don't try this at home.)

But still, we're grateful to have a relational model here - where we don’t have to package up the content with a pretty bow and make promises we can't keep. We're so happy you're with us, and we promise to continue to make no promises!

Here's our favorites of the week:

To Read: One of humankind's paths to success is the ability to look for positive outcomes in unexpected circumstances. This erudite article tells you how to turn chance into luck. In an age of instant correspondence, is the art of the letter, dead? 

We loved this nostalgia inducing timeline story of Delhi, our current home, spread across seven decades. 

To Watch: The Waltz Of The Snowflakes, a dance from Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker. Filmed in an open-ground, with social distancing norms and ethereal ballerinas wearing masks - this modern re-imagined choreography of the iconic musical fantasy ballet is life-affirming and joyous. Also watch Oscar Ukonu, a hyperrealistic self-taught artist in Nigeria, who has been creating majestic art with ballpoint pens since 2014. Each piece can take him almost six weeks to create, and their photo-level complexity is achieved using just three basic techniques: hatching, crosshatching, and scribbling. 

To Discover: Stop judging books by their cover...or their clout! This nifty tool is a fun way to discover what book you really might like without worrying about what you "should" like. It opens the first page of a random novel blind, without revealing the book title or author, to allow you to read through and see whether you might like it. We love this for the aspect of discovering new authors and new titles, like you would in a real life bookstore, by flicking through the first pages. Anybody who’s picked up a book that was highly recommended and thought “what the hell” after three pages, will appreciate this.

To Joy Scroll: If it's been a hard week and you've been feeling a little blue, this Twitter thread of animals in the world interrupting wildlife photographers might be the cutest pick-me-up you need. Andreas Wannerstedt’s Eternal Installations is a series of “dreamlike environments, where large-scale art installations are stretching the boundaries of physical laws”. Watch the short videos with the sound on, for a meditative lilt through these soothing works. 

To Cook: We love the Felicity Cloake's masterclass series in The Guardian, "How to cook the perfect...(insert yummy dishes from across the world here)", a recipe series where she experiments with top chefs' version of a particular dish, and then chooses the best version to feature, with her own twists and tips. This Pear and chocolate pudding, is an easy divine little preparation, showcasing front and center the oft ignored fruit, and if you think grains in your baked good aren't a thing, then this recipe for gluten free brownies yield deliciously squidgy, fudgey, chocolatey squares. 

To WTFBehold The One - a record-breaking Los Angeles estate with 105,000 square feet of living space and, it seems, a nearly $350 million price tag. We just had to see what the fuss was all about...

And to end, here's a poem we love that tugs at our heartstrings in effable ways, alluding to that ache we feel in our bones, that life should be more than this:

How again after months there is awe.
The most personal moment of the day
appears unannounced. People wear leather.
People refuse to die. There are strangers
who look like they could know your name.
And the smell of a bar on a cold night,
or the sound of traffic as it follows you home.
Sirens. Parties. How balconies hold us.
Whatever enough is, it hasn’t arrived.
And on some dead afternoon
when you’ll likely forget this,
as you browse through the vintage
again and again—there it is,
what everyone’s given up
just to stay here. Jewelled hairpins,
scratched records, their fast youth.
Everything they’ve given up
to stay here and find more.

—Alex Dimitrov, "More"

Till next week, stay cosy, basked in sunlight, warm friends and laughter,

Viv & Ami

 
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Founded in 2012 & based in New Delhi, The Wishing Chair is a women-led homegrown Indian brand creating unique, playfully designed products that celebrate creativity, handcrafted artisanship & Indian craft technique. Currently our design studio is working on products in the home decor, apparel, accessories and gifting space. Our name is derived from one of our favourite Enid Blyton books we read as kids: The Adventures of The Wishing Chair.