Here we are tumbling head-first into another freshly minted on the clock – New Year! I hope you found the holidays restful and reflective filled with all the loveliness that time off can provide.
Yet holidays can be complicated depending on who you are. As any Harry Potter enthusiast will remember, each holiday brought some amount of trepidation and agony into the orphaned Harry’s life. As everyone rushed around making plans, he found himself desperately hoping that his best friend, Ron, would invite him to come along and not leave him alone. This is no unfamiliar experience for many of us who for so many reasons find ourselves marooned away from the happy commercial narrative that explodes across screens and streets around the holidays.
On December 25 of 2018, Sarah Millican tweeted: “If you are alone or feeling lonely follow the hashtag #joinin and start chatting with others there.” What followed was a tradition for each holiday season where the #joinin filled with stories of loss, grief, distance and much more. One of the tweets from this holiday: “My Dad passed away on the 15th December. I’m sitting in his house all alone, wearing his pyjamas. I don’t know how I’m going to carry on”, gathered 900 plus responses brimming with warmth and support. Overwhelmed, the author of the tweet later added: “It’s heartening to know there are still good people in the world, who care about others.” This is the strange beauty of the human world. Even as there are moments of singular despair and loneliness, there are moments when we collectively arise to hold each others hand.
This is important to remember as loneliness across the modern world is on the rise. Research from countries like the US and UK tell us of reducing social bonds and an increasing sense of isolation, a concern slowly being mirrored across other countries. We, at The Curio-city Collective, wondered if this was also true of the experience of living in Indian cities (we suspected it might be, looking at our own circle of friends and family!). In order to untangle this topic we embarked on a journey of conversations and research on the topic of loneliness in Indian cities.
In the coming days, we bring to you an online campaign to understand and de-stigmatise loneliness under the hashtag #storiesofloneliness across our Twitter and Instagram accounts – do join us in the conversation! In our first episode of the TCC Podcast – Lost Connections – we speak with Sonia Thomas and Sandhya Menon, both have a strong social media following where they speak on topics related to mental health with deep honesty and vulnerability. We chat about loneliness in Indian metros as they share generously from their own wisdom and experience.
In our essay ‘Feeling not seen, not heard, not understood’ published at Mad in Asia Pacific, we explore the research behind loneliness – what is loneliness, why is growing loneliness relevant, what does loneliness do to us, are cities more lonely, what are the possible ways to make cities less lonelier? In the article ‘Community mental health in America‘, our dear friend Gitanjali Mahanti shares her experience of being a social worker in the US and speaks in detail about the US model of community mental health services. This and a lot more is coming up in January – our month for exploring mental health in Indian cities!
We are very excited to launch our podcast and website today – and hope you will be a part of our Collective in the coming year, as we explore how we can build happier and healthier cities in India!