Handmade Love | Youth Leadership Programme

5 min read

Note: The following article has been written by Neeraja Srinivasan, an inquisitive mind who had joined us for the Youth Leadership Programme during the summer of 2020.

                                           It’s a lousy quarantine Friday morning and I wake up to the sound of construction on either side of my apartment – an absolute nightmare. There’s a feeling I wake up with; the need to reach for my phone and rapidly respond to any messages I’ve received during the night. As I scroll through stories on Instagram in bed, I find several posts of baking ventures my friends, family and acquaintances have begun in light of the lockdown. As the days of quarantine proceed, I get used to seeing small businesses bloom like flowers in an apartment terrace garden – amateur but heart-warming. Despite being a loyal lover of street vendors and in particular, food, I have spent my entire life being fooled by the tactics employed by billionaire companies and capitalism, flashy offers designed to trick you into being a part of this never ending chain of choosing convenience over comfort. If I had to associate a feeling with small businesses it would be comfort, the comfort of having been a little part of what the owners childhood dreams would’ve been made of.

                                              After some self-introspection, I told myself that I would actively try to switch the patterns of consumption I’ve become so accustomed to. With my birthday around the corner, as per tradition, I make a list of books – number synonymous with the age I turn that year. I’m 17 now, hence, 17 books. With more safety precautions than you can imagine, anxiously scrapping my skin red with soap more times than necessary, Appa and I decide to visit a local bookstore, lined with books, history and magic. Higginbothams Bookstore on Mount Road in Chennai is more than a house of literature, to me it brings back warm memories. When I enter, the store is completely empty except for the Annas who work there, they look hopeful. I notice a ray of sunshine coming in from one of the stained glass windows, I stand in front of it and it makes me feel pretty, I decide that I like this feeling. And as I leave the store with a cloth bag filled with books, I can’t help but be scared. Be scared for every single shop that might consider shutting down because of the pandemic, for the customers whose memories will most likely vanish with them.

                                             Days after this one are occupied with me trying not to complain to my friends about the fact that Amazon doesn’t deliver to my pin code and instead acknowledging my privilege while doing my best to experience the magic of having placed an order with a small business. On Monday, a good friend, after months of procrastination and overthinking, finally began selling her home-baked goodies, as a show of support I decided to order her decadent chocolate tart topped with white chocolate shavings and savoured it throughout the week by enjoying little bites of it after every meal. On Tuesday, I ask Ma if I can order a Mexican bowl from a home cook for dinner. This day, coincidentally is a gloomy one. I eat it as I re-watch an episode of This Is Us that makes me happy-cry. Wednesday comes and I educate myself about the harms of fast fashion and its impact on climate change which leads me to discover gems on the Internet also known as online thrift stores. I browse through floral skirts and woollen sweaters and save a few to be bought later. On Thursday, I use some of my birthday money gifted by my grandmother to order sunset coloured meenakari earrings and anklets from a small business single handedly run by a woman – from packaging to shipping.

                          As the weekend nears, I take a small step towards achieving my not so silly anymore dreams of moving to Goa when I’m retired, selling handmade jewellery by the beach and living in a town where you’d have to cycle to reach places by ordering resin moulds from an Instagram store.  There is a meme I came across on social media, it said “Shopping from small businesses is so cool, there is absolutely no cons to it. Handmade things? Cool and thoughtful packaging? Handwritten notes? And supporting a person’s dream? I love it.” And it is with a happy and content heart I write that I can thoroughly vouch for this!

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You can find the products I’ve ordered here on Instagram! :

@_.bakelisitc._ : chocolate tart

@comfortinabox_chennai : Mexican food bowl

@chennai.thriftstore : clothes

@thechokersstore : earrings and anklets

@tinaartcrafthobby : resin moulds

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. I absolutely loved this! Well done, very well written!

  2. I appreciate your creative mind dear Neeraja. May the God bless you to fulfill all ur dreams.I can proudly say that you are one of the brilliant and talented students.

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