How a comedian and illustrator from Mumbai are helping New York de-stress in the Donald Trump era

Updated: Jun 11, 2017, 15:34 IST | Gaurav Sarkar

How a comedian and illustrator from Mumbai are helping New York de-stress in the Trump era

Commuters trying to burst the bubble wraps at a station in New York City
Commuters trying to burst the bubble wraps at a station in New York City

Trump, Comey and the FBI - with all that's going on in the US political scenario, it is needless to say that the country is shaping out to be a world leader in soaring stress levels.

In an effort to help rescue Americans from the sea of despair and cope with their daily dose of negative news, two Mumbaikars who recently moved to New York are using bubble wrap to deal with the gloom. If you are one of those who loves bursting bubble wrap as a means to de-stress, then you would easily know how this works.

The bubble-wrapped news
The bubble-wrapped news

Deep Chhabria (24), a stand-up comedian and copywriter, and Pritika Mathur (23), an art director and illustrator, moved to New York last December as a part of their course at Miami Ad School, Mumbai. Their campaign 'Press to De-stress,' which manifested itself through bubble-wrap-coated posters and bubble cards inserted in newspapers, is spread across 13 prominent locations in the Big Apple, including Times Square, Union Square and Washington Square Park. Their first batch of posters tackled issues of gender equality, homelessness in the US, droughts and gun laws.

"America is undergoing a political and social turmoil that will go down in history books; the country is battling redundant laws, cynicism is flourishing, and media sensationalism is at its peak," said the duo, writing to mid-day over email. "We don't want to make light of important issues, just make them more palatable."

Pop goes the stress
In just the first week of the campaign, more than 450 people burst these posters all around New York City. "One great reaction was when we had a gender related poster up in Washington Square Park. A gay couple, who seemed like they were fighting, approached it to burst it as a means of easing their intense conversation. By the end of the entire bursting process, they ended up hugging it out. It was beautiful," said Chhabria and Mathur. According to the duo, the best part about 'Press to De-stress' is that although it works in a format, the idea is quite fluid. "The core of the campaign, which is 'making bad news more bearable with bubble wrap' doesn't change, but the content constantly evolves. We cover everything from polarising issues to basic overall bad news," they added.

When asked how it feels to be living in Trump Land 2017, Mathur and Chhabria said that they moved to New York when Trump was elected President, only to witness numerous protest marches, satirical shows, and drunk 'I hate Trump' party conversations. "It's the most interesting time to be an outsider. You have an objective view of everything and can easily dissect problems and possible solutions. It's like sitting next to two friends who hate each other. The only reason you think you'll do fine is because they both dislike you less than they dislike each other."

The duo will also be exhibiting their posters at an immigrants' showcase this weekend at an art gallery in Brooklyn. Chhabria will be travelling to Washington DC, Orlando, and Philadelphia later this month to spread the movement. Mathur will be moving back to Mumbai in July and will continue the cause in India because "what's the point of an immigrant movement if it doesn't help your own country?"

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