A happy tune-in time

Updated: 20 March, 2020 10:29 IST | Sukanya Datta | Mumbai

Self-isolation and dealing with TMI can get unnerving. A podcast that features feel-good news is just what the doctor ordered

Café Arpan in Juhu also features on the podcast
Café Arpan in Juhu also features on the podcast

From turning our bedside tables to work stations overnight, to cutting off ourselves from the social humdrum of life in a metro, it's been one hell of a time for most urban dwellers. Anxious calls to and from parents back home, minute-by-minute updates on the latest stats and the possibility of a total lockdown in the near future — all of it can get too much, especially in the confines of our homes, with no one to turn to.

While scouring social media for some relief that's more than just pandemic humour, we came across Shifa Maitra's podcast Smile India. Did you know that there's a woman ragpicker in Saket, Delhi, who feeds and takes care of 400 strays; reminding you of that odd, but kind-hearted pigeon lady from Home Alone, no? Or were you aware of a cafe in Bhubaneswar, where robots, called Champa and Chameli, take down your orders and cater to your demands? Three episodes-old, the podcast packs news like this with a generous helping of motivation that we could all use.

Shifa MaitraShifa Maitra

A media consultant by profession, Andheri-based Maitra keeps the format fairly simple. She presents each episode like a news bulletin, introducing listeners to the achievements of three to four innovators, be it individuals like the dog lady or institutions like the Jamshedpur Utilities and Services Company that created roads out of waste plastic. In a voice that has the you-can-do-it-too vibe to it, Maitra goes into details about each of the newsmakers, without sounding preachy. She ends each episode with a tip that we can all use to bring a smile on our faces, and on those around us. Our favourite is the one about Mumbai-based Café Arpan, which employs differently-abled individuals.

While the format is crisp, we can't help wanting a bit more from the three-to-four-minute episodes; perhaps, Maitra could get one of the innovators on-board too, so that we can hear it from the horse's mouth?

The same introduction that plays at the beginning of each episode also tends to get a tad tedious. But, hey, if you're on the lookout for some good vibes in trying times like this, then let this be your jam.

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First Published: 20 March, 2020 09:10 IST

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