A neighbourhood teeming with life

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A writing exercise as part of a course in nature writing that I’m taking at the Institute of Continuing Education, Cambridge.

One of the things I love most about muggy, overcast days is that the colours of the earth below seem richer in contrast to the grey skies. The grass looks greener, the daffodils brighter. As I lock the door of my house to step out for a walk, I notice that the pillbugs that are usually near the rose bush are absent today. A rainy, curl-up-in-bed day for them, perhaps.

Outside on the high street, cars whoosh past me in the evening rush. I like maintaining a pattern: I follow the same route every day, a little meditative circular walk of my own. Semi-detached houses line the street, each with its own carefully-maintained garden. Red roses climb on the trellis outside a house, alongside white ones. As a faithful lover of bold tiger lilies, I’ve recently found a new appreciation for more conservative roses. Especially white roses tinged with pale pink, like wispy clouds in a fading sunset sky. 

I walk away from the high street onto a smaller street, where the noise of the traffic fades away and the song of a blackbird takes over. Perched on top of an antenna, it creates a tune of squiggly loops and lilting trills, like water flowing over rocks in a stream. Bees feast on lavender plants that grow alongside the footpath, clinging on to them as they sway in the breeze. Large, white flowers of bindweed emerge from an overgrown patch. I stop and wonder why some of the prettiest plants are problematic: they’re either invasive or poisonous.

Parasols of elderflowers sprout from a large bush in front of me, each individual flower shaped like a mini-sparkler that I’ve held as a kid. Blueberries grow robustly in a garden, and I see more roses by another lawn, some heavier flowers bending over. Across the street, I spot a vertical wall of green hedge, studded with little shiny yellow jewels—St John’s Wort. I go closer to examine them, such exquisite little things! I start to question my loyalty to my flower favourites. 

Joining the blackbird’s chorus is now a wood pigeon which stares unblinking at me from the branch of a grey birch, its 5-syllable song appearing to say, “Go hoooome now, go home!”  I contemplate walking further down to the park, where I have a favourite horse chestnut tree (I saw my first woodpecker there). But it looks like it’s going to rain any minute, and I decide to follow the pigeon’s advice. 

On my way back, I realize that the cherry trees that line the street are barely noticeable now, and blend into the landscape. Just a few weeks ago, they were in full bloom, grabbing the attention of anyone with a camera and sending everyone into raptures. It’s almost as if they’ve stepped back to make way for the other flora to have their moments of glory. 

Between the grills of a house, I see lilac poppies, with their carefully-painted watercolour petals. Tiny red and pink trumpet-shaped flowers dot another garden. I don’t know what they are, but they seem to promise the discovery of new words and delightful additions to my colour palette. 

I’m almost home now, the cars are still whizzing past, and the pedestrian signal is loudly beeping. As I open the gate, I notice that in the far corner of our hedge, a rose has bloomed quietly, soft white and pristine. 

Elderflower sparklers

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. 
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.




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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:

-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!