Maanvi Kapur is a visual artist and graphic designer based in Bangalore, India. Over the last few years, I have felt a constant sense of awe and inspiration seeing every artwork she puts up. The details, colour palette and style are wonderful, and at a personal level too, Maanvi and I have become good Internet friends who occasionally do postcard exchanges. She also did a takeover of This is my newsletter this year, along with her lovely partner Aniruddh.
In conversation with Maanvi about the year that was:
How has this year been for you?
Surprisingly it has been a very fulfilling year for me. I have always been a home body but being confined at home really made me focus on what I love - painting. It really has been an immersive experience. I feel I have grown even more closer to my parents who I have Facetime-d more with this year than the last time I was 18 and left to go to college (which was many many many moons ago).
Did you learn anything new this year?
Yes! I have been trying to play the acoustic guitar, this was huge for me since I absolutely am tone deaf and always wanted to play something but never had the courage and thought I would embarrass myself. But now, I know a few chords and somehow can manage to play Hey Jude by The Beatles.
What was your routine like during the pandemic?
I have always struggled to keep a routine and being an owl doesn't help at all and before I know it I am deep into the vortex where I am on multiple screens and its 3am. This past year has been nothing less than a roller coaster in that department.
What dish did you cook the most in 2020?
I think Rajma Chaawal is the one dish I ended up cooking the most. For most people, it's a dish full of nostalgia, and my partner and I found comfort in it too (took some trial and error, but we finally managed to get that taste of home). But also, Dosas were another close favorite, with fresh coconut chutney (and discovered how easily the coconut comes out of its shell!). What's the biggest obstacle you've overcome this year? For me, the biggest challenge was understanding my own mind - the anxiety, the tension, that feeling of uneasiness where you wonder what's happening, but then realise that it's your body telling you to take a pause. First the challenge was to figure this out, and then to actually navigate through those feelings, and now coming to a stage where I realise that it's ok to have those feelings and then move on with them.
What was one of the moments you were most proud of this year? One of the key things for me to be proud of this year was to take my insecurities and self-doubt and channel them in a way where I could use them to work harder. I had been drifting a bit in the past but this year, I could finally just put my head down and focus my emotions towards getting more and more work done. The Home Quarantine series was born out of this, and creating that series really helped me get through this year in a big way, and is something that I'm really proud of.
Who really enriched your life this year in a big way? My partner, Aniruddh. We've had each other's back from the start, but this year with both of us working from home, sharing all the home chores equally, seeing each other at our most vulnerable. In all this, he's been a constant source of encouragement and essentially my rock. Even working together for our Illustration page Squidlink was a very fulfilling experience. And I cannot not mention people who were complete strangers in the beginning of this year, like Rohini and other fellow like minded people whom I crossed paths with, who showed such generosity, kindness and creativity, which has truly been inspirational. The nicest thing you did for someone in 2020?
I'm not sure if I've done anything directly nice or helpful, but throughout this year and due to this pandemic, I've tried to be there for my dad, especially speaking about mental health, about navigating feelings that he had not felt before and just constantly staying in touch more than ever before. I tried to normalise the idea of having these thoughts and fears, and as a 60-something, him actually opening up to me about all this felt nice too.
The book that helped you the most in 2020?
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer. I started reading this book in early April this year, and it very unsuspectingly brought so much joy to me. The idea of the book being a compilation of letters was what eventually lead me to sign up for the Chitthi Exchange, which opened up a whole new world of snail mail for me. The song you heard on loop this year?
Blood by The Middle East was most on loop this year and it also happens to be my ringtone. Favorite film/TV show of 2020? There are so many and at the same time I'm finding it hard to remember! But Tenet, Trial of The Chicago Seven, The Last Dance and Paatal Lok really stood out.
What's a lesson that this lockdown has taught you?
I really felt a sense of community during the lockdown. Strangers/neighbors went out of their way to help each other and that was a wonderful thing. Also, the struggle of trying to juggle work, chores and to maintain some sense of normalcy is very real, and I really understood how privileged and safe I am, and yet, found myself struggling sometimes just to keep my head above water.
What is one question that you found yourself asking over and over again this year?
The one and only question - what to cook for lunch/dinner? Even as I type this, I'm struggling with this question. A recent epiphany you've had? I found that one can really be very content with the really under-the-radar, unnoticeable, little things which you tend to not even realise in the moment. What’s your number one bucket list item for 2021? Being able to go for a good swim, since this summer went by without it. I really miss that first sensation of getting into the water.