My days of uncertainty began a bit earlier than the pandemic. In the May of 2019, my husband and I decided to move out of India, packed up our home in Mumbai, and started what turned out to be a very very long journey to Europe. We were initially hoping to move to Vienna, but encountered a lot of obstacles with the visa application and long story short, after spending five months, figured that wasn’t going to be possible after all. Finally in January of 2020 we decided to relocate to Berlin instead and Rob was able to get a visa in just two days! This seemed fantastic and we assumed we would be in Berlin by April, but little did we know… Continue reading
I never disliked flowers per se, I just didn’t really understand the fuss. Sure they were pretty, maybe colorful, but I could never justify the expense. They don’t satisfy cravings like chocolate, and I find a bouquet of roses impersonal. Their worst offense, however, is that they don’t last.
At some point, I began to see flowers as an Adult Thing, a financial marker of having my shit together enough to splurge on something ephemeral and maybe a little vain (see also: manicures). My partner and I moved in together at the beginning of the pandemic and as a housewarming gift to myself, since no one else was going to come by anytime soon, I purchased a subscription to UrbanStems. A bouquet delivered to the lobby of our building every two weeks. I learned how to keep flowers fresh for as long as possible, how to handle them. And I learned to love them. Continue reading
Around this time last year, I accidentally got really involved in US presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’s unprecedentedly large texting program. When he suspended his campaign, 30,000 volunteers had sent 259 million texts, and among them were tens of volunteers, including me, who’d been spending tens of hours a week to help run the program: making materials, training new texters, answering questions on Slack in real time, double checking texts on the backend. And on that day in April, all of those people suddenly had a lot more free time. Continue reading
A nearly full calendar year of mandatory work from home has been a mixed bag for me. I’m good at working from home, and have a long freelance career behind me, so that wasn’t really the tough part. Working at an agency, but from home, was a bit harder. In the typical office setting you’re collaborating, and you’re sharing a lot of the small stuff, the stuff that makes the work better in hard-to-measure ways. But at some point this year, I did start to try and measure those ways.
And what I found was, sure, the lockdowns and social anxieties are not helping my general mood, but there was something else that was eating at me. It took me a while to realise that, in the transition from a 50-colleagues office to a one-dog-on-my-lap office, I lost the little moments of education. The sharing of arcane design tool knowledge, the brief can-you-come-have-a-look sparring… the education. The teaching that we do, back and forth, while we work to answer design questions together. And suddenly a lot of my frustration made sense. I wanted to teach more than I could. Continue reading
Between the pandemic, dissertation writing, and a stint with crutches, I’ve spent much of this year at my desk beside a window, looking over the road in front of my flat. As lockdown progressed, I started recognizing the daily parade of people, dogs, and bicycles gliding past the window as they made their trek down my street. For myself, as mundane as it may sound, joining in with the daily procession of London walkers became an anchor in 2020. Continue reading
My 2020 started with finding out that US and Australian crafters were “sharing” a calligraphic mandala I had created as a background pattern for a portrait.
I had quickly drawn it in Sketchbook Pro and thoughtlessly posted it on my portfolio.
No big deal.
It became a huge hit in the crafters scene. I found it badly traced, printed, cut in vinyl, laser-cut, stenciled, carved, and etched in glass. Not where I wanted to be, but there I was. Beware what you put out there, you might be known for it.
So my 2020 continued: fixing that mandala, hiking, creating more calligraphic mandalas, masking up and hiking, vectorizing them in Illustrator, keeping healthy, and selling the files on Etsy.
Something particularly cruel about this pandemic was being separated from people we love during the time when we needed it the most. But paradoxically, this isolation itself was something we have shared collectively, a communal experience.
What got me through this year were the moments of community that reminded me that, although we are isolated, we are not alone. I have selected three, in chronological order.
What can we do if we are stuck at home 24/7 besides swallowing Cheetos in bed? The answer started with painting each other’s toenails in multiple colors but it was only funny once. Cheetos weren’t appetizing anymore thanks to my sudden all-day-long-sickness. Yay pregnancy! For four months, I could either eat blend pasta or sweets. So, with my best friend and partner, Kári, we baked to put a smile on my puky face after drooling on the Great British Baking Show. Continue reading
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. Continue reading