"There’s just something about a handwritten letter that I absolutely adore. It may be the feeling of receiving something tangible from someone else’s world or the deeply humane emotion that surfaces when one reads another’s words, carefully written in ink. Whatever the reason may be, a modest handwritten letter does bring in a little sunshine in our lives.
The Snail Mail Project is for everyone who shares this love for letter writing, I invite everyone to write to me and in return, I will post you an original illustration or a few words based on the feeling I got from reading yours. Your letter may be about anything, a book you’re reading, places you’ve been or your ideas about the world. It can be anonymous or incognito. A paragraph or a page. A letter or a postcard. A doodle or a photograph. A pressed flower or a broken leaf. A word you love or a phrase you hate."
-Sumedha Sah, Founder, The Snail Mail Project
I invited Sumedha to share some of her favorite illustrations done by her, and letters she received as part of this project:
Armandeep works in the Indian postal services in Chandigarh. An enviable job which I would very much like to have. When I think of her, I can’t help but wonder of all the letters she holds, sorts and helps push along their destinations. Does she ever wonder about the stories inside them? I draw a portrait of her and her beloved letters, dreaming of the stories they contain.
Vera is an Italian living in New Delhi. A postcard with an elephant’s back photographed in a narrow Indian lane perfectly summarizes her experience here. I can understand how surreal it must be for someone to arrive in this country and live out their days in complete wonder at the workings of this giant nation.
India for me is always in motion. Moving, churning, stirring and mixing.
For Vera, I make a collage of color signifying how different she may feel from all of us yet she too has been colored the same color we are, and quite like the circle, she fits perfectly into our collective arrayed lives as fellows of this fantastic land. India is an experience.
Please don’t miss the excellent illustration she makes on the envelope.
Nonie is an Australian who calls India home. Although she has been living in Bombay for a few years she is vexed about the questionable behaviour of Indian men towards women. A matter that has been infuriating the whole country lately.
This was a certainly a difficult letter to respond to. I sit back and think if it is the fault of the value system or the social appropriation or something completely different. However, in the end, I am left without an answer but only a few words I read somewhere long ago.
‘A society which disrespects its women is bound to fail’. India has a future and the future lies with us.
It lies with the ones who make a new life, It lies with the female.
An ode to a Poplar tree comes all the way from the city of @thehaguecity in the Netherlands. Milenka reminisces romantically about the two majestic poplar trees rooted around her house supporting an ecosystem of birds and bees. A cosmos she would wake up to everyday. A yellow dot appeared one day and was responsible for the two brothers' demise and the demise of the life they reinforced. The square fell silent. Then one day, she heard a chatter of starlings only to look down and see the resilience in the form of a sprouting leaf. It’s hard to flee the popularity of a popular tree, she ends.
Yuka fills the envelope with the flowers from her fathers garden in Japan. There are hydrangeas, carnations, wild daisies, purple larkspurs, yellow zinnias and many more unknown to me. In her letter, she writes about the importance of taking the leap and how she herself left behind a secure job in London for love and found herself traveling half the world on a bicycle with her husband. Her stories are incredible, they speak of kindness and empathy in strangers they met on their journey.
Please do have a look at their amazing stories on their page @sushi_and_sambar. And as we all must, do stop and smell the wild flowers once in a while!
In case you would like to be a part of Sumedha Sah's The Snail Mail Project, do email her with a request to participate on email@example.com. Although the project is currently paused, she will connect and let you know whenever she resumes it.