As I walked into her room, every wall stared back at me. Then as if recognising, it’s one of their ally, turned back to their silent conversation. They spoke of a story hidden from the world. The pictures on them were filled with her love and passions. The sticky notes carried her goals and the world map her dreams. The dream catcher wouldn’t speak at all though. 

I started rummaging through the drawers. They offered this subtle resistance, as if knowing what I was upto. I bore through it and continued shuffling through her thoughts and masks and trinkets. At the far end of the dark, I found a bag of rocks. Grained, marbled, coloured — they each had a story encapsulated within from places she has been to. No, not this.

Cursing the rise in my anxiety with every passing second, I shoved open her wardrobe. I was met with the smell of the perfume she wears daily. That stunned me for a while. I turned back to see if she was standing there, but then was met with the obvious answer. The cashmere shawl she wraps herself in, during the foggy winter nights, laid there. But not what I wanted.

I stared around in desperation. It has to be here … somewhere. I was about to give up just when my gaze met the rustling leaves of her potted plant by the sill. I walked over, and the tiny weeny blooming smiled at me. The blue silk curtains needed a much-needed flight. So I popped open the window. 

And there it was. The mighty gush of winds swept in and the tickling water drops. As the rains dribbling along in all it’s glory, I found what I was looking for. Any memory that made her soul come back from dead again. I had to find her. So I found her. I found me.

*The article is inspired from the documentary Helvetica shown as part of the course Graphic Designing 101, Department of Design, IIT Guwahati, India*
The movie embodies me as a powerful ubiquitous
spirit, as if I really exist. How can a typeface be somebody, anybody in this case. Well look around, you probably interact with me just as much as you do to anybody.
You could have just ambled past the wall covered with tons of posters or gazed up longingly at the brands you would like to own. You must have hurried past me while catching a flight or searched for me when you really had to take that nature’s call.
I was just there, standing still sometimes, tilting at times to wake you up from your slumber, sometimes shouting to get your attention and sometimes just there as an added note for your
sub conscience.

They say I am neutral. They say I am like air. I am like that off white paint on the wall, sometimes smooth as a canvas to paint your thoughts on or sometimes chipped off and bothering your insecurities.
Some call me racist. For it’s not about the blacks,
its the white. My white spaces hold the blacks to stand out. They keep them from falling. Like it’s with the music, it’s not the ding or the tring but the space between the ding and the tring.
They say I have been
upto no good. Yes, for I have been used for war propaganda and those deadly tax reviews to be paid every year. But I tell them I am even on the manifestos of hope like those of UN.
I just hold on to the framework of graphic design for communication. I have no meaning of my own. Might sound hollow, but I called selfless. I take the context context wants me take.
I cannot be taught through books or lectures. I can only be learned if you are sensitive to me. While I am a language that is few people’s natural mother tongue, I speak many languages.
A good design is something that stands the test of time. I have stayed as fresh and clean as I was not intended to originally, but was demanded to over the time.

Some people do worry about me taking over as a global type monster, but stay assured I am trying to bridge what the world was, what it is now and what the world will be. I am just a beautiful font.

Streetshoping is an art. Or may be I am just exaggerating it. As a first timer (in Mumbai) in street shopping with limited bucks from my intern, some of the tried and tested strategies.

Strategy One : Act like a know-it-all I-own-Bandra Bebo
Whatever price the shopkeeper quotes, divide it by two, subtract 20% from it and start bargaining. Settle at no more than 50% of the original cost. You can even start by dividing the base by 3, you are the bebo of Bandra remember?
Dialogues to Use 
Roz ka aana jana hai boss, bahar ka samjha kya hai?
Success Rate : Depends on how good is your maths. And  on how convincing your acting is.
Strategy Two : Act like I just came to Mumbai with my VIP ka suitcase, full of hopes 
You give in to the fact that you are new. So any bargaining is purely on the basis of your worldly knowledge of your humble home town and not wrt to Mumbai. You show immense trust in his innocent intentions and basically use reverse psychology to get him to lower prices.
Dialogues to use 
“Itna ka milta hai? Pakka itna ka hi milta hai? Humare yahan toh kam ka milta hai! Thoda toh kam karo!”
Success Rate : Depends on your worldly sense to figure out his degree of innocence.  
Strategy Three : Act like you are the CEO of GGT (Give Guilt Trips)
This is where you convince him that by not reducing the prices, he is exploiting the abla-nari shopper and he certainly can be imprisoned in the chains of guilt, till he makes the next big sell. 
Dialogues to use 
"Kya bhaiya, aisa karoge ab aap? Thoda sa bhi kam nahi kar sakte mere liye?”
Success Rate : If his heart is as squeezable as the mangoes across the street, then you have a chance. Else, you have nothing to do, except walk away.


Strategy Four : Don’t give a damn and just pay him what he wants.
This is when you are either ‘phoreigner’ who is filthy rich or…you are filthy rich. If you fall in neither of the mentioned cases, you can just imagine starving children in his home and a leaking roof in black and white, wipe away that sweat from your forehead, shell those extra bucks and walk away with your shopping bags.
Dialogues to use
“Kitna” *a ridiculously high price* “Dedo.”
Success Rate : A full 101 percent.

Yes, I think it's about time I let these out and stop grumbling and whining for these technological voids in my utterly monotonous life coated with drama and design in one of the best technical universities on the other side of the world of where Victoria Beckham resides.


*As you can already guess, it's going to be a long road filled with insane bumps ahead. Better hold on to your wine glasses all you folks!*
**Please click on images to see enlarged images with readable font size**

1. Shoes that can convert from flats to heels. and then back to flats.

Be it while being a part of the organizing team of a college festival or merely an event where you can dress up and people won't ask "Is it your birthday today?". How glad we will be if we could just notch it up to heels while posing or walking on the stage and switch back to our comfy shoes while meandering around. 

*A typical situation*

2. I have often heard my guy friends complain about the discrimination when it comes to  likes and shares of a post by the fairer sex even when they don't seem to be genuine. 

A verified status from Facebook when she puts up one about any sports or a social cause or weather (mostly rains).

Saying that she does indeed follow this sport very religiously and this is not one of her another attempt to impress the guy she stalks in the library. And the rains actually made her heart break the walls of ribs and go on a little dancing date.

3. An added description of guys she gets friend requests from.

Okay, so when you were in the core canteen, like maybe a semester or two back, this was the guy in a so-bright-that-you-need-sunglasses yellow t-shirt standing with your omg-I-will-fail-dassi friend and give-me-treat-for-nothing friend. And you were just there having your coffee, preoccupied with texting.

So that the next time you come across him and even though you don't pull out your sunglasses and make a cursory smile, you don't get the "b***h you didn't accept my friend request" look.

4. An app that lets you know that no it is not the lettuce stuck in your teeth from the sub-way wrap you just had or the dress you walked in is a see through under light. It's not even you, you know. It's just that heads turn when you enter late for a meeting in a room full of guys who study in an institute with guy-girl ratio 10:1. You are bound to look out of place and sometimes out of mind.

5. A notification to all the guys in a conversation when it goes to a region when the girl feels I-was-so-much-better-not-knowing-this. Yes we can bear your scrambling over  FIFA and CS and how  using conditioner on your beard makes it softer.  But some things, just some things, pray I thee to keep to yourself?!

Writings and Illustrations By Chhavi :)

I recently read Harry Potter and the Deadly Hallows again. Why you may ask? Well it feels good to lean back on things that defined your childhood. Especially if it is part of a series of those big fat novels you conquered as a nerdy kid.

Books are always a longer commitment than movies. You stay with them for a longer time, carry them around and sneak private intimate moments with them on a crowed bus or a boring meal. There are some moments that feature films can never capture. Presenting a few of them *drumrolls*

"The letter was an incredible treasure, proof that Lily Potter had lived, really lived, that her warm hand had once moved across this parchment, tracing ink into these letters, these words, words about him, Harry, her son."

This was when Harry found a part of  letter her mother wrote to his godfather narrating her son and his first flying adventures. You could have never guessed what was on Harry's mind if you watched it as a movie sequence. It's wonderful how a parchment with ink drapped over do even after years to it's reader. It might the closest we have got near teleportation to the past, to be in a moment, your loved one was in, even for a brief second. 

"The sword of Griffindor was hidden they knew not where, and hey were three teenagers in a tent whose only achievement was not, yet, to be dead." 
When you watched the movie, you knew the trio will live. It was different when I read the book the first time. You never knew if Rowling wil pull out a RR Martin. The book builds up the anxiety and uncertainty of the lives of the protagonists as you read through it. You almost keep telling them under yourbreath "Don't die yet!!"

"...after a while Harry found himself taking it out simple to stare at Ginny's name in the girls dormitory, wondering whether the intensity with which he gazed at it might break into her sleep, that she would somehow know he was thinking about her, hoping that she was all right."

You could have sworn that the girl with the curly locks who barged into the apartment and fixed Harry's specs in the first book was the one he will marry but bleh! It was Ginny in the end. Throughout the book, Rowling keeps reminding you that Harry has his heart locked away somewhere else safe.

"He was about to go home, about to return to the place where he had a family....The life h had lost had hardly ever seemed so real to him as at this moment when he knew he was about to see the place where it had been taken from him."
 A few pages later. 
"Tears came before he could stop them...the place where the last of Lily and James lay, bones now, surly, or dust, not knowing or caring that their living son stood so near, his heart still beating, alive because of their sacrifice and close to wishing, at this moment, that he was sleeping under the snow with them."
The only thing that can stop you from saying "I could be Harry Potter" is the immense grief he holds inside him over the loss of his parents. Maybe Rowling wanted to put across her point, you can never really have all of it.

"He dug with a kind of fury, relishing the manual work, glorifying in the non-magic of it, for every drop of his sweat and every blister felt like a gift to the elf who had saved their lives." 
The book is intersprsed with these non-magical moments to keep us grounded in reality while our heads fly through the magical realms.  

"After all this time?"
"Always", said Snape.

This might be one of those rare moments where a movie manages to capture every single emotion the author wished to put his readers through. This is the moment, you fall in love with the preofessor you loathed all this while, and with Alan Rickmann. One word, and the world turns around for the potter lovers. 

A photo posted by Chhavi Shrivastava (@chhavi.justme) on

I decided to work according to the way humans think I do. And bring them together after nine years. At the same crossroad. We will meet again, if Destiny permits us, they had said. Well, here I was, permitting them to meet again. Little do they know, it was never my permission they needed. I was just doing someone a favor.

There she stands. Beautiful in her own ways with dangling curls of hair and soft lips. My memory could never have done justice to her. She is right here, almost too magical to exist. We had a choice, she was right. I ruined it. I wish I never had let her go.  She is a brave girl, she will not let me enter her life again. Should I say that I still am completely in love with her..

So it was true. Spring had told me about their separation between the colors it had chosen for them to bathe in that year. Red. The colour of the passion of their love. They were a hurricane, who created their own sunshine. It's funny how people think I, Autumn, am a season of decay, wherein, my yellow is the color of their rekindling hopes and brown the stability they will find in each other.

Can I be anymore stupid to fall for him all over again. How could we have joys and sorrows so inextricably tangled even after staying apart. Hasn't changed one bit, still has no clue that the tie and the shirt doesn't go together. We had no other choice, he was right. I shouldn't have left. He will not take me back. Should I tell him I still am completely in love with him..

They collided and even I had to stop for a while to watch the magic they created together. And they say time waits for none. They are funny creatures, too scared to appear desperate. They don't even know when a bus might hit them. I would have never asked a favor, until Death told me it's on a bus right around the corner.

The reason behind this story. A drawing done by me long back.

After what seems to be decades of complaining, there is finally an oasis of fresh cocoa seeds in this desert of tastes-like-dettol coffee.  Okay. This might be an exaggeration, but ask those who have been living off 10% caffeine, 10% milk and 80% god-knows-what coffee, until this bright pink outlet opened right in the center of their desert.

At first, it did seem like a typical mirage in a desert. Too good to be true. Little did we know, it had coffee, sofas, snacks and a pay-before-you-eat counter (duh). The much hyped nukkad coffee shop on our very own nukkad. Yay!

One thing that I would commend our admin is their choice of placing buildings. Girls hostel, one gets acad complex, other the new SAC. Boys hostel get khoka (if you know what I mean). The cafe seems to be placed as a paid reward wending machine to those who pay visits to classes. Buried in your books, a whiff of cocoa when you look up through the stained library panes, much wow. "Bas ek page ki duri, phir sirf main aur meri coffee"

The outlet already boasts to house many secrets (most of it that it sneaked upon during Alcheringa ) and loyal lovers. A sunny winter afternoon Assam tea with the serene lake marking its presence with gushes of breeze time to time and a book as company. A late night, all heart out gossiping session over a cold frappe with loudest of laughs and dramatic interjections. A low phone call to mom while gulping down chocolate cup cakes and missing home bad. These are some of my memories buried in the sand there. 

After all of it, you would agree when I say you just cannot replace the dettol-coffee from the countless "intellectual" conversations, post quiz swearing, parathas you hog when you are late for class and coffee toh pila de accha taunts. 

Nurturing my love for coffee,

PS: Rather proud to not have to search Google to get pictures for this blog.

My dearest mom and dad,

I write this as words and hugs are the only currency we trade in our family. I write this as there are tons of things I never stop and thank you for. Small tiny weeny things that have made me, me. I would just like to pen down a few, bear with me.

My name. Chhavi. I love it. I hope I can always stay true to it's connotation, your reflection. 

Tanvi. She is my crazy half. She completes me. And she stays up late, so she is there to handle all my mid-night dramas and anxiety attacks when you guys are fast asleep.
( Tan, you
should just accept that your name was kept just to rhyme with mine :p )

You have kept our relation simple. And honest. I know everything about you. You know everything about me.  From the people I am texting at 2am to what I had in dinner. I still can claim to people on campus, if you cannot find me, call my parents. They will know where I am. This is because either you are too cool or I am too sharif.

You have let me nurture my love for dressing up in the finest. You have heard my confessions of being deeply in love with clothes and earrings and shoes and have understood it. You have taken me on shopping sprees when I screwed up my test and sent clothes when I was away from home and feeling low.

You have made me wanderlusty. I have memories of sun, sand and beer in Goa. Of tea gardens and houseboats in Kerala. Of snow and apple fields in Manali. Of sea diving for corals and shopping for pearls and good fish in the Andamans. Of the walks on the Mall road and churches in Shimla. Of temples and collecting sea shells in Puri. These memories are like the glowing fireflies inside me, the ones that keeps me sane when the world around me gets insane.

You have taught me to read and write. Read, read and read like your life depends on it and write, write and write like every word you write matters. Not to mention, you gifted me the genes for it and a whole lot of books and night lamps too. 

You have told me to be the propeller in this bell jar of hypocrisy and mediocrity. You have told me to make sure I break that bell jar because bell jars are made to hold vacuum and Victorian watches and not girls like me.

You have pushed me from my comfort zone and forced me to gather my nerves and get out there to fulfill what is not merely a word, dreams. You have assured me that the worst that could happen was maybe enough to stir me, but not shake me.

You have loved me like I was and had always been the answer and the question and what world thinks never mattered. You have loved me enough to let me love and care for people without trying to search for the very question that matters. You have made me strong, you have kept me going.

As I sit wearing this over sized sweater of yours dad and the earrings you got me mom, 1500km away from home, I want to tell you.

I love you. With all my heart and soul.

Happy 25th Marriage Anniversary.

Just yours,

Chhavi :)

Some things are constant. Like the amount of aloo in the Sunday morning canteen wala dosa. The taste of aloo parathas of Core 1. The only conclusion that people draw if a boy and a girl are walking by the lakeside.

While some things keep varying. Motivation to save your drowning CPI, the range of expressions while people comment "Design toh chill hai!",and your reaction to that comment.

This semester went by in a blur. It's coming and it lingers for a while.Some of the blurs. 

The sem started with all of us being thrown in our "departments". The Watsapp group notifications increased as we tried to hold on to each other and try to find a time to party that suited everybody. Design department was a breath of fresh air. Literally, because we spent many classes outside our classrooms clicking pictures and live sketching. We have spent our days sketching leaves and trees and making short movies and wondering how can life be so good, apparently?! Inside we were struggling to keep up with the piles of assignments and developing a 'design' sense.

Rare events when all of us are there and ready to pose. 
Design batch 2014


Techniche. :) An integral part of my life as we worked yearlong sending mails and stalking people as part of the events team. Those 4 days were epic. When more than 150 people work together to put up such a show, you realize what's it like to be a family. To see the audience happy while standing backstage, it is one of the feelings that you keep deeply cherished in your hearts. 
Team Techniche 2015
Lecture Series Team 2015

The trip to Shillong.  11 crazy souls. Hot tea and aloo parathas by the curved roads. Roy Orbison lashing out Pretty Woman as the countless pine trees swings by. Ziplining through the valleys of the beautiful north east. Seven stones, a ball and a girls vs boys match. A huge woolen blanket being smuggled inside the cinema hall. Walking back to our place wrapped in each other. A dark room and a carpet and and the unveiling of some well kept secrets. Cold milk, coffee and sugar being whirled together at 3am. I tell you, those were some days.

The only decent picture we have from the trip.

We had to make a movie. We didn't have a story and we actually ended up making one without a story. We didn't have enough shots with proper focus. So we used the ones that were shot when we were too lazy to get up and switch off the camera. We ended up making a very honest and 'real' movie. The one which might resurface years later and I will wonder "That was me?"!

Diwali. It's always difficult being away from family but we have made our own little families here. Diyas, crackers, rangoli, sweets, high paced aartis....we have filled up the cracks in each other of being away from family  so wonderfully. 

Prayukti. We became a family from a batch during Prayukti. Thermocols, chartsheets, fevicol, lights. Every thing that was there in the classroom, good or bad, had a story behind it. when people stopped at looked at the exhibits, silent looks and winks were exchanged between us. 
People who make hostel home.
We all went berserk when we finally managed to get it up there.
Our magnum opus.
My favorite people, all in one frame :)

I can only say. This has been quite a semester. :)

It was just another mundane session of scrolling down Facebook feed and switching tabs between online shopping portals and Quora. Just then I came across a really long post of an old friend, the one which has "Continue Reading" at the end and when you click it, Facebook opens it in an altogether different tab.

The post was written by a friend. A crazy wild friend with curly hair to die for. The one that ended up sleeping right in front of the teacher and wake up and apologize, so very gracefully. The one with that Julia Robert's Pretty Women laugh, so genuine and infectious, that made people smile. I started reading the post assuming it's one of those posts where she writes what kinda bag you should carry for your personality or the latest darlings of the fashion world.

By the end of the post, I was shaken. My eyes were numb and a strong sense of guilt gripped me. She had been in a live-in relationship for a year that turned abusive and violent. That post was her declaration to the world that is not a victim and she has thrown that guy out of her house and life. She went through a phase of denial, hurt, self-doubt, violence and then finally mustered the courage to stand up for herself. She now smiles and feels beautiful. She now wears black dresses and puts on the darkest of red lipstick.

The world had always questioned her ways. I was there when she decided not to give a damn about them and continue shopping. I was there when she was figuring out what she wants to do with her life. I was there when we were about to leave our homes and begin our new lives. I was there initially to hear all about that new life and clothes and people. But I wasn't there when she went through this dark phase.

I just couldn't leave that post by simply liking it. How often do we do that. Like a post or a picture. I don't remember the number of times I have liked her profile pictures the last year and thinking "Whoa, she is having the time of her life". Facebook profile pictures and posts can be so very deceptive at times. But today I realized, one of my loved ones might be fighting a battle I know nothing about. And probably I cannot be there for them, but I can try. Maybe, dropping a few lines of genuine message for someone you love or care deeply about or maybe loved or cared deeply about in the past is not such a bad idea. Maybe, sometimes all they need at times is "Hey, you all good". Don't just like, drop in a few words at times to mark your presence. Keep your loved ones closer. Even on Facebook.

For the girl who taught me this and so many other things in just a few words she wrote on Facebook. Stay Strong You. 

Chhavi :)
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