A Meaningful Encounter
When the world was busy looking at selfies and orchestrated photos of overpriced breakfasts, Rohini Kejriwal chanced upon the internet in the most meaningful and evocative ways. During her stay at her family home back in Alipore, Calcutta, she found herself browsing through art pages on Tumblr and consuming poetry from the hidden corners of the internet. “Calcutta, as a city, is very charming but I prefer not to stay there for long,” says Rohini from the other end of the line. As familiar as the city was to her, she knew it couldn’t provide her with the life she intended to live – a creator’s life. Which, she ultimately leads in Bangalore currently.
I catch Rohini at a time when she’s just got done doing things she meant to do but never found enough time. Cleaning the house, reorganizing her closet, deleting photos she’d hoarded in her phone, to name a few. This time of social distancing is difficult to get through, but Rohini likes to be on the positive side of things. Hopeful.
A Robust Community
Blessed with a drive which she likes to call ‘an inherent curiosity to know how people’s brains work’, Rohini decided to share the art that she had been saving and collecting. An impulsive decision founded on the ground of giving cohesiveness to her love for art and culture. So, she took to Gmail and started sending out daily newsletters to people. There would be a few poems, links to songs she was listening to and a few artworks. What started as a close-knit community of handful individuals soon crossed 500 and that’s when Rohini moved to TinyLetter – a newsletter platform. Today, The Alipore Post is a robust community of about 28,000 people on Instagram & 3000+ on the newsletter!
“Back in college, I was a total nerd! I would email my teachers saying ‘thank you for the assignment, I had so much fun doing it!’ I think I have always been self-reliant and passionate about things I enjoy doing.”
21 March is celebrated as World Poetry Day and Rohini wanted to make sure that the world took notice. So as soon as a national lockdown was declared by the Prime Minister, she decided to organize The Alipore Post Online – an online festival filled with art, music, and poetry! The festival featured 30+ speakers across the country and outside, and received immense fame and recognition among the consumers of art. The intention was to nurture the community as it as always been, adds Rohini, a former journalist at the Deccan Herald.
A Cup of Solitude
Having recently launched a website for The Alipore Post, she wants to create a space where people can come together and share their work. Although she spends a lot of time by herself, she enjoys watching movies, listening to records, making zines, and cooking with her friends. Rohini is extremely mindful of the company she keeps and says, “There’s no other way for me to do this. I value my time so I make sure I spend it doing things that I love and help me grow. I’m an old soul anyway.”
“Through The Alipore Post, I have discovered personalities and have made friends with strangers. It gets a bit overwhelming time and again but I like keeping my hands full. I like deadlines and constantly engaging in some creative routine. Thankfully, my employers are also understanding of this side project and I’m grateful for that. I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Evenings are when she’s at her creative best and nights are meant for unwinding. She spends a lot of time by herself – reading, doodling, practicing the keyboard and making tunes on GarageBand for fun. Currently, she’s picked up Lessons in Forgetting by Anita Nair and has been listening to Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou, whose music she describes as the background music of her life. This year, Rohini has promised herself to go through graphic novels on her reading list. Illustrations or doodles have become another way of self-expression for her. “I used to doodle during the Inktober challenges but then my friend got me an iPad on my birthday. It’s given me that freedom to express myself visually. My mind goes there first before it goes to words.”
A Selfless Act of Curation
“I’m this defiant person who doesn’t want to take tutorials because I do not want to unlearn this childlike approach and eagerness to figure things out on my own. I like the liberty to enjoy things first hand so there’s scope to make mistakes I can learn from.”
April is celebrated as the National Poetry Writing Month, and Rohini being a sincere contributor decided to take it up a notch by curating themes and prompts for this year under the hashtag – #thealiporepostpoetrymonth.
I ask her whose work she finds herself going back to time and again. She pauses for a second and says, “From India, Tishani Doshi and Arundhati Subramaniam are people who I worship in terms of their work. From outside, there’s Mary Oliver, Ellen Berry, Sharon Olds, Philip Larkin, and a few more.”
Highly inspired by artist & writer, Austin Kleon, there’s a naïveté Rohini embraces. A selfless attempt at making artistic outpouring available to all. I make sure to point out how that childlike innocence reflects in her smile and often, in her poems.
Superpower as a Woman
“This year I want to improve at the piano and finish a zine I’ve been working on. And of course, Inbox 0! It gets a bit overwhelming but I’m hopeful I’ll get there.”
Presently, Rohini spends her time proactively taking care of the website and interviewing artists whose work moves her. When asked about her family, she says they’ve been supportive of her work from the beginning. Although her mother sometimes worries that she’s quick to delve into new hobbies, she’s aware of her inexorable potential!
Rohini believes that women are gifted with the quality of doing things in a gentle, more meaningful manner. There’s a drive to do more, be more. This quality, she says, can be used in a nice, nurturing way. No wonder, this has what her to form one of the largest art-based community!
For our readers, she has a message –
“Don’t be afraid to try something just because it appears difficult. Make the plunge. Do things for yourself. Open yourself up to possibilities. It’s the only way forward.”
Amrutam celebrates selfless and driven women like Rohini who are passionate about changing the world!
More on Amrutam Nari
- Niha Elety, Visual Artists, Sustainability Advocate & Founder of Tega Collective
- Kanika Agrawal, Co-founder at MindPeers
- Dr. Tanaya Narendra, Doctors & Sexual Health Educator
- Rochelle Pinto, Editor, Tweak India
- Sahar Mansoor, Founder, Bare Necessities
- Manali Shah, Asst. Digital Features Editor, ELLE India
- Aafreen Ansari, Mental Health Activist & Forbes Asia 30 under 30 List
- Ankita Kumar, Travel Content Creator
- Aanchal Malhotra, Oral Historian & Author
- Shramona Poddar, Travel & Lifestyle Blogger and Co-runs Amrapali Boutique
- Kshitija Sarda, Founder & CEO, Platform For Artists
- Aditi Surana, Graphologist & High-Performance