Sunday, January 13, 2013

Uttarayan Edition, Perch Project

Uttarayan is a kite festival that is celebrated mainly in Gujarat and the states neighbouring it. It's a long old tradition which many participate in, in fact a lot of preparation goes behind it, making kites, getting manjas ready etc. The manjas for kite flying are made especially razor sharp to cut other kites, and the options have increased much more with the availability of China made strings. This competitive desire of cutting others' kites doesn't go very well with the birds though. Every year many birds get injured and die after getting entangled in the kite strings. My friend Hazel told me that days after Uttarayan you could see birds hanging dead from trees. 

As Perch Project, we decided to cover this event. Our aim was to raise awareness about this issue, provide the basic set of instruction to help people rescue such injured birds and a few helpline numbers of organisations that have services running for rescuing birds during Uttarayan period. We figured that keeping an authoritative stance on this event by telling people not to fly kites won't help, it's a part of the tradition and taking that away would only turn the audience against us. Instead, making a plea to not turn a blind eye when they see an injured bird became the guiding direction of our initiative. We first made a poster to spread the message around. We had to keep the poster true to our motto, we had to be subtle, precise and good. Most of the time, work that is driven from personal passion tends to go overboard in their appeal, and we had to avoid doing that. Me and Hazel spent late nights on emails, whatsapp going through each step of the poster making, reviewing it, trying new things out, choosing our references, use of type and the right colour scheme. We took some feedback from Dhun, who helped us in sticking right to our purpose of this initiative. This constant mulling and trials gave us a poster we were proud to put up. Here it is -

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Colours inspired from - Half Chai 

We followed up the poster with the instruction guidelines. To keep the information crisp and clear, simple line drawings were created to go along with the information. More than the poster, we were keen on getting this instruction sheet shared around. 

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With our fingers crossed, we uploaded it all on our Perch website and then shared it on Facebook. We didn't have any grand expectations, but the response we got was pretty overwhelming. It got good number of shares and to much of our delight, the instruction sheet slowly gathered momentum with the audience too. We even got a small five minute radio interview on Fever 104 fm, Mumbai. Many thanks to them for hosting us and sharing the information around. Thank you to all of the people who helped us share this initiative around. Time after time, you have helped us in extending our reach. If all this effort even makes some small difference to people, I would feel grateful. 

You can check out our Perch post here - Uttarayan Edition. You can check our Facebook page too and if you find the initiative good enough, please share it. - Perch Project.

Although we chose not to mention it, but it would be great if people opted for cotton strings to fly kites than the Manja one. Also, if you find stray manja post Uttarayan in trees or wherever, then gather it and discard it. In any case, enjoy the festival food. Happy Makar Sankranti. I have got my share of happiness thinking that how a small thought that gave birth to Perch Project has become a part time job now. 

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Benjamin Franklin, Brainwave

I made two spot illustrations for an article on Benjamin Franklin and his flirtations with lightening in the new January issue of Brainwave. The two Brainwave characters, Alby and Arby time travel to meet Mr. Franklin. There they get to know how the man behind the invention of lightening rod had flown a kite with a key attached to the string to find out the electric nature of lightening. Apart from his contributions towards Science, Benjamin Franklin had a good share in America's freedom Struggle too. 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013


I spent the last days of the year 2012 nestled in the hills of Coorg. Over the years, I have realised that I generally can't write, draw or express much when I am away from the chaos of a city. I think being in the middle of human nature irks my senses more, on the other hand when enveloped with nature, I dull down a bit. It brings a calm over me, and then all I do is to seep it in rather than splurge it out. Although, there are a few things that do stimulate my nerves, and climbing a hill is one of it. The massive structure poses a challenge to this minuscule body. Rather than being a physical act, it becomes a symbol in the head, the will to take on a problem that is much bigger than you. Its course brings a treachery to you through its silent slopes turning to screaming gushes of steep hurdles. The very first few steps would stumble you down making thought barricades that the way is too tough to be walked upon. Through this barricade you would breathe through a few more stone paths, loose mud, poking tree branches, and then realise that how unfortunate it would have been to give up before. The will to carry on with it to reach a peak where you could see yourself with one effort well put is such a rush that makes you forget your aching leg muscles and panting lungs. At times you would reach with no definite landscapes visible enough to give you any rewards. But you know that you are in the clouds. 

I am sorry for the low quality phone pictures, but carrying the weight of a camera would have slowed the climb.