10 years down

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I complete ten years of ‘work life’ today. Ten incredible years of writing, editing, cartooning, learning, making bad decisions confidently, taking good ones nervously and chasing the dream relentlessly. A decade since I stepped into my first office as an assistant editor, feeling terribly important and enthusiastic, ready to transform the industry (I didn’t).

It’s been an exhilarating ride since. My first job was something out straight of a dream—I was editing wildlife books, which taught me about purple-nosed frogs in the Western Ghats and how to tell if elephant dung was fresh (had a chance to test this out a few years later). It was a job I stuck to for five years. At work, I had colleagues whose favourite thing to do was visit the sprawling fig tree in the neighborhood after lunch, an activity I thoroughly enjoyed. I made some of my best friends in that office over countless and unnecessary coffee breaks, which I sorely missed during the freelancing days that followed.

Outside of work, I travelled, volunteered at a bookshop and wrote like a completely possessed person. It was during this time that I started doing something I never thought I would do: create a comic strip. What started out as a bit of a joke on Facebook led to a badly-drawn regular strip for a Mumbai-based magazine. Encouraged by the feedback of (in hindsight, undiscerning) readers, I kept drawing, unaware of where this new journey would take me.

Eventually, I moved on from publishing to a brief stint in advertising as a copywriter. Here, I discovered a completely different world. Coming from a khadi-kurta-wearing, em-dash-obsessed 9 to 5-ers, I was startled by fast-paced agency life. But I was also equally enthralled by it. There was so much energy, so much talent, so many ideas… so therefore so much competition and angst. During late nights, I noticed that I was only thinking about the next comic strip or making drafts of what I was going to write about next. That prompted me to quit to try out freelancing for a while.

It was possibly one of the best decisions of my life. Freelancing came easy—I was happy to be working independently and I loved working on a variety of projects. I wrote travel articles, drew custom comics, created stories for wedding invitations, and showcased at flea markets and things. I had enormous support from my family throughout though, with my uber-cool dad manning my stall at Comic Con, telling everyone to buy his cartoonist daughter’s work 😉

The more comics I drew, the more certain I became that this was possibly my life’s true calling (among other yet undiscovered ones).

After I moved to the UK, I started taking care of digital content for a startup, something I’ve always wanted to do (and find that I immensely like). In a faraway country, the comics kept me company through snow and sleet and rain and heat.

Today The Tap has nourished me as much as I’ve nurtured it, making space for my cup-runneth-over type experiences and helping me connect with thousands of folks through stick drawings. Creating comics has become a part of daily life, like brushing my teeth.

Every week, I get emails from folks asking me for advice about whether they should quit their jobs to pursue their passion or hobby. And every time I say the same thing—stick to what you love doing and do it anyway, irrespective of whether you’re able to convert that into a career or not. To do what you love, and to want to get better at it, without wanting validation or approval in return is in itself liberating.

Over the last decade, I’ve done some ponderings over what the purpose of life is. And I think I’m getting closer to the answer slowly. I think all of us want to create things of beauty—and we are aware that we only get one good shot at it. Maybe it’s a drawing, a piece of code, a working algorithm, a conversation that you helped start, lives that you changed, problems that you helped solve—we all want to leave our legacies behind. And maybe that’s what we all strive for, through the work we do every day—to bring about some change in the world, to be able to make a little difference even as we’re hurtling at top speed through the immense vastness of space. And I guess the only prerequisite is one that we already satisfy: to be here on this planet.

Thank you all for encouraging, supporting and indulging me through this glorious decade!

The story of Blossom Bookhouse, Bangalore’s best-loved bookstore

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This article was first published in The Better India on August 13, 2017, 1:00 pm, titled “How One Man Made Bengaluru’s Favourite Bookstore ‘Blossom’ From the Pavement”. This is the story of Mr Mayi Gowda, the man who set up and runs the icon Blossom Bookhouse, Bangalore. 
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Rows of shelves spill over with books, holding the promise of an escape into countless different worlds. I walk through them in amazement, but slightly panicky at the thought that I might never read each and every book here. There’s a lived-in feel about the place. I close my eyes for a second and can almost feel the stories, secrets and surprises that surround me. I pick up a book at random and flick through the pages, the paper is yellowing and dog-eared, with hand-written notes in the margins. Ah, the sweet smell of yesteryear! I settle down comfortably in a corner, feeling like I’ve found a new home.

A couple of hours later, I emerge happily from the shop, armed with an illustrated coffee table book, a couple of obscure comics, and some rare western classics.

I’ve made my first maiden trip to the much-loved and revered bookstore of Bangalore, Blossom Book House!

The entrance of Blossom Book House – a familiar, welcoming sight for many It was the first of many visits that followed. A trip to Bengaluru was never complete without the ritualistic pilgrimage to Church Street. And over the years, in spite of growing rapidly, Blossom (more frequently referred to as Blossoms or Blossom’s) has always retained that homely, small-shop feel. The credit for that goes to its founder, the remarkable Mayi Gowda. I catch up with Mr. Gowda ten years since I made that first trip, going through my memories of Blossom, as he goes through his own.

READ THE FULL STORY ON THE BETTER INDIA.

 

Shop for goodies!

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The shop is currently under construction. Check back soon for updates!

For prints, custom gifts and merchandise, please get in touch at ramyasriram1@gmail.com.

Eureka!

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Be it for corporate branding projects or for individual personalised gifts, I can help you with your ideation process and the outcome. I love being pushed to think, and seeing an idea take shape and form in the physical world is incredibly satisfying.

If you’re looking for someone to help you crack that big campaign or create content that makes conversation with the reader, get in touch at ramyasriram1@gmail.com.

 

Let’s collaborate!

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I work with organisations on a variety of projects that require ideation and translation of ideas into words and pictures.

My work spans:

-Copywriting
-Illustration/Comics
-Content writing
-Merchandise Design
-Travel Writing

My clients have included, among others:

-IIM Bangalore
-Akshara Foundation
-Muncipal Corporations of the State Governments of India
-Rewheel, an NGO promoting the use of cloth bags
-Krishi Gram Vikas Kendra, an NGO working towards sustainable rural development
-GoMowgli, a travel company

As part of my stint in JWT, I’ve written copy for Apollo Hospitals, the CK Birla Group, Gati and Delhi Public School.

Take a look at the portfolio here.

Get in touch at ramyasriram1@gmail.com!