Lavanya Rastogi and her Art for the heart’s sake workshops
The most memorable, “happy” memory that I have carried back from the 1st India Pen Show that was held in Mumbai early this month, was one with a lot of children. Children, some barely toddlers, busy giving vent to their creativity, fountain pens in hand.
I remember standing transfixed, watching them with sheer joy running through my veins – ecstasy of a type I had not experienced in a long, long time. As a matter of fact, such was the happiness of seeing so many from the future connecting with the fountain pen, that my generation had consigned to the past, that even the tables that were laid out in the adjacent hall – overflowing with the passion fruits I had gone seeking to the show in the first place, seemed less tempting than their usual forbidden selves!
They were doodling, sketching, struggling to fit unruly letters into gridlines, embellishing their hand-written notes with exaggerated swirls that that characterises the first brushes (no pun intended) with calligraphy – in short, thoroughly enjoying themselves. And that is exactly what mattered. Kids and fountain pens. Kids with fountain pens. What many like me have only dreamt of, was there, right in front of the eyes, action writing wetter than words!
And there, right in the thick of things – doing it as it were, in the line of sketches – was this young lady, chaperoning the little ones, coaxing, cajoling, helping them with their grips, discussing their masterpieces, helping them fall in love with their chosen weapons, the fountain pens.
The organisers told me that she is one Lavanya Rastogi, the spirit behind a start-up called Happy Hikkups. Hailing from Kanpur, she has impressive credentials – a Company Secretary with a Law degree to boot, she migrated to Mumbai to pay heed to her inner call and pursue a career in the arts. Love for stationery and fountain pens was a constant from childhood, which had led her to start her first online store “Prachhai when she was still busy with her studies. It was only in Mumbai that Happy Hikkups “happened” and how – the third runners up at Google Startup Weekend 2018, for beginnings.
Ask Lavanya Rastogi what Happy Hikkups does and she lays it out, straight from the heart. “I am trying to promote art as a medium to detoxify and a therapy to help people socialise physically in an increasingly, even frighteningly, digital world. I want to bring back the touch of the pen-and-paper creativity and through it, lead the young to peace of mind. I want to help people get closer to their inner selves in an exciting way – through different mediums so that they themselves may get to choose the best outlets for themselves” she says.
“Life today is an expressway, where everybody is speeding, often not knowing either the destination or bothering to read the signposts. All I am trying is to create little oases of tranquillity – little places to break the journey and take a creative rest, like the Serai’s that used to dot the caravan routes. Call it a catharsis, if you may”.
Not a tall order though, considering the fact that Lavanya herself is an accomplished artist – someone whose designs, paintings, sketches, doodles, zen-doodles, mixed media, story art, fluid art, crafts, scrapbooking – have all found critical appreciation and acclaim from some of the greats in their respective domains. Happy Hikkups has already conducted close to fifty workshops, have taken more than five hundred orders and have worked with close to fifteen hundred participants in both Mumbai and Kanpur. Lavanya considers nothing untouchable and has taken her creative solutions to restaurants, offices, shopping malls, clubs and residences to marks everything from corporate and social events to house parties.
But her focus area continues to be children. Says Lavanya “I design bespoke workshops based on the requirements of the clients and can thus address the specific needs of all age groups. As a matter of fact, my sessions with the senior citizens that help them rediscover the inner child are a huge hit. Yet, it is working with the children that make me the happiest”.
“I love working with children” says Lavanya Rastogi, “as I realise that I can help them touch their inner creative selves. I can help give direction to their thoughts. I can help them socialise and be more productive. I can assist them in improving their patience and focus. I can apply the balm and detoxify their little souls from the digital overload”.
“Art is a beautiful healer. It does not discriminate and tells everyone that they can be an artist. It encourages people to express the best versions of themselves, helps in relaxation. Art also helps one create memories: beautiful, lasting memories, just the way it helps in meditating and cleansing the mind. Try it, you can’t go wrong with Art” says Lavanya.
I used to think that I can bring the fountain pen back into reckoning with my writing. I still think I can but now I am confident – I can count on Lavanya Rastogi for help!