Afloat 2020

Really stoked to have survived this year and happy to share some of the coping mechanisms that have bought me lots of comfort and solace.

Very early in the quarantine, a friend started a book club where we read books that were set anywhere but our city Bombay. This way we got to travel while staying safely in our homes. Our meetings on Zoom connected me with strangers who also joined the club in hopes of similar travels. We would chat about the places but also how the books made us feel. We enjoyed ones that painted a more vivid picture of the place they were set in. Books about home or the price to leave it. We devoured books that had recipes tucked away in between prose. There were also books that were terribly dull and books that were so exciting that I had to shift deadlines. We travelled across the globe and then on Sunday evenings we’d catch up and chat about which places we were dying to see and ones that felt familiar in print. I can’t remember the last time I had read a book that had nothing to do with type before this year. All my travelling happened from a balcony as I devoured page after page. We started with Invisible Cities back in April and as you read this on Sunday I shall be on another video call, chai in hand discussing our current trip to China.

Somewhere midway through the quarantine, I decided that my inability to use watercolours should not get in the way of me using them. I finally opened a long hoarded set and used them in the most un-watercolourly way. I can’t be sure if they’re a terrible medium to draw letters or if I’m just shit at watercolours but I shall claim my artistic licence. Here below you get to see never seen before masterpieces, the designs bleed with my quarantine angst and if nothing else, it has made me appreciate the bezier a little bit more.

Collage of expressive typography using watercolours. The words expressed are: Busy, Doing Nothing, Blur, Over-worked, Exhausted, Overspecialised, Grateful and Lonely.

And finally, when things started looking a little better, I thought I should try and venture outside. In this I discovered the cycle to be my new found friend. I had initially tried and struggled to run with a mask and running without one was scary especially because so many around me were sporting one on their chins. Once I realised that I can cycle comfortably with one and this way be at a safe distance from chin maskers, outside has been more inviting. It has also allowed me to visit parts of Bombay that I might not have stumbled across had I been on foot. Places that are too far for a stroll but too interior for public transport. Of course I also stopped to take pictures of signs. I have also discovered cushioned bum-shorts and really there needs to be a more comfortable loung-ey version for general sitting purposes.

Signages on shops and buildings around Mumbai. Top Left is Hiro radios, below that is Gulab Mahal in red 3D letters on a building entrance and to the right is B. Merwans & Co. a Restaurant

In a lot of ways, teenage me would have relished this year; Getting to stay inside; Not being forced to make small talk with strange adults who visit and ask too many questions; Reading lots of books that let me imagine an outside I wanted to go visit; Paint a little, draw letters, and occasionally step outside for essentials and a cycle ride. 30year old me had imagined this year differently. Alas, no plan survives contact and 2020 ensured that in a spectacular manner. Grateful to still be here and hoping next year allows more hugs.

Bette(r) Days celebrates the things that did not suck in 2020. Each day in December, we’ll be posting about the highlights of our collective garbage fire of a year, type-related or not.