It is by accident the first bittersweet glass of Sulaimani finds someone new to a city.

The ten-past-midnight cafe has a boarded up half-counter and a furlong-long menu up front, yellow ketchup bottles allover tabletopia and a dog or two writhing scripts on the floor, taking well punctuated turns. It is the kind of place where you find a stray grain off someone’s chicken-fried-rice on your plate of very honest chicken, or aloo paranthas wrapped around more aloo, and keep not looking at it with such exhausting deliberation you end up ordering another premature dish and drown it in nimboo paani. Then one goes up to the half-counter to ‘askforyourmenu’ and lets the shopkeeper concoct an acceptable version of the lemony beverage. One finds out the ‘tea’ part is the kind of affair wrapped in paper-bags, and continues to hold on to the glass until it gets awkward.

Listening to three parts Sedaris in Bombay.

Updike: The link doesn’t work anymore. I’m keeping the dead link. Maybe I will put it in a small mason jar and keep looking at it until the linkiness wears off and only the letters remain. Then I will clean the mason jar and transfer my collection of used ballpoint nibs to it and then look at them instead. Because we don’t do illegal stuff. And stuff.

On H&F, TVSchneider on universitified design education and prettiness, among other things.

Readying for a slight shift in coordinates, been working on fewer client-projects (the thinning enquiries help, a lot) and reading more off pixels and ink. Finished Murakami’s Underground after a couple years of turning the first page, Llosa’s Aunt Julia, Masters’s Genius in My Basement, and Dave Eggers’s The Circle. A cache of translated shorts from Murakami here, the beautifully designed, very-well curated Hopes&Fears, and most recently, Jina Khayyer’s shorts. Haven’t been able to pick up a copy of Colourless Tsukuru yet, owing to some little greenish, orangish pieces of papyrus not being where they ought to.

Monsoons are here.

The portfolio website stands updated with some new work, and a moving 404 page.

Talking to school-teachers about low-fidelity, hands-on publication design for teaching aids tomorrow. Towards the end of last year, I’d illustrated cover artwork for SCERT textbooks and a few (fresh, still wet) copies just arrived. This looks like a year of education-related projects, and I am looking forward to some cost-conscious fun.

Quote from EJ, my favourite place on the interwebs to quote from.

We have to admit though, we feel a bit uncomfortable about being involved in the design of the above items. As it turned out, Shoshan’s installation (a recreation of a zoo, functioning as a political metaphor) involved live animals; and we are actually very much against the exploitation of animals, including the use of animals within the context of art. Let humans play all the cruel games that they want among themselves (whether they want to call it war, love, politics or art), but just leave other species out of it.
The director of NAiM / Bureau Europa assured us that the whole installation was monitored by several local animal welfare organizations, and that the animals wouldn’t be hurt in any way – and we totally trust him. But still, on a strictly personal level, we do feel a bit uneasy about our contribution (however small) to this specific exhibition, and in retrospect, we shouldn’t have been involved. But alas, it’s too late now.

Even with the next month’s rent eating into last year’s savings, one is fascinated—ecstatic even—stumbling upon instances of such high levels of integrity and simple honesty in a profession where one is constantly reminded of how an air of superiority, a hint of apoliticism and a downright disregard for where the result of one’s output features in the larger canvas of society and environment, are vital to finding ‘the gold’ in truckloads. One wonders, admittedly quite amateurishly at this point, if it is really that hard to be vocal about matters of ethics and, generally, rear the head of one’s pessimism once in a while, amidst the cacophony (I have a thing about the word possibly involving a murder of crows) of all the happiness driven design around.

Been a month since I ditched the cellphone. Not as a statement (maybe a little) but as an escaperiment of sorts. Parents were alarmed at first, doubting my sanity, financial imbalance, falling out with someone, and an astonishing gradient of bizarre and quite logical probabilities I missed. It has since been nice. And silent. Clients are happy there are no Chinese whispers and chilly Gopiettans. I am happy and pretend to focus on the work occasionally, throughout the day. I still carry a (dumb, INR 1200) phone that can make get lost, etc. Has it improved my life? Have I got a life? I don’t know. Yet. I want to see how long I can keep this up, or down.