‘PEOPLE ARE AVIDLY SEEKING BOTH INFORMATION AND INSPIRATION’
Iwrite this as I settle into my third week of social isolation. Since we started planning this issue, the world has shi ed on its axis – reflected in an entirely new lexicon of #stayhome, #socialdistancing and #lockdownnow. Like millions of others around the world, the team and I are working from home, trying to conduct a distinctly collaborative process via email, videoconferencing and good old-fashioned phone calls. There was the question of whether to bring out a magazine at all – whether it would come across as tone-deaf in a time filled with uncertainty and insecurity. But as people knuckle down and adapt to this new reality, we see that they are avidly seeking both information and inspiration.
So this is what we hope to provide – stories that distract, entertain, inform and perhaps encourage a shi in perspective. It is a time of great anxiety, but there is also an underlying seed of hopefulness: hope that the great Covid-19 crisis of 2020 (as we will not doubt call it when we recount these times to our grandchildren) may encourage societies as a whole to reconsider their priorities. There is the hope that this crisis will act as a unifier, a reminder that we are more alike than we acknowledge, and that we are all connected, regardless of the borders and ideological differences we so stringently uphold. It is a reminder that health is true wealth; and that the ability to interact with our fellow human beings, in real life, in real time, is a gi not to be squandered. This is a time to stop and reflect, something many of us forget to do in world that is moving unfathomably fast.
So maybe, when this is all over, we’ll all have an opportunity to do things a little differently. The people we speak to in this issue are ahead of the curve, in that respect. “It’s not my purpose in life to fit in,” Waris Ahluwalia boldly tells us on page 12.
The actor, activist and plant aficionado has long been concerned about our fractured relationship with the natural world. “We see ourselves as separate from nature, when in reality we are one and the same. Our relationship to nature is our relationship to ourselves. Do we treat ourselves with love?”
Rahul Mishra, meanwhile, is turning traditional fashion ecosystems on their head. We spoke to Mishra just before he became the first Indian fashion designer to show a collection during Paris Haute Couture Week in January. But his message seems particularly resonant today. Mass production is polluting the world, in Mishra’s view. “If you create at a human pace, it can be sustainable, as the slower pace gives Mother Earth time to replace its resources – a mechanised pace becomes unsustainable.”
Finally, now is the perfect time to go back and read some classics. Chinese author Jung Chang’s
Wild Swans is a good place to start. On page 46, the author talks about the personal and political trials she has faced over the course of her career. If nothing else, Chang shows us, through her penmanship and defiance, that even the most challenging of circumstances can be overcome.