A Unique Souvenir

One of my goals going into my gap year was to fill a sketchbook – something I’ve never been able to fully do before. I figured this was the perfect opportunity to do just that. Aside from taking many photos while in India, I also took of my free time to draw lots and try to capture moments through drawings and comics and other means.

I almost reached my goal of finishing my sketchbook – but when travelling from the northeast of India back to Pune – the water bottle in my bag spilled, causing major water damage and personal heartbreak to my sketchbook. Just like everything else during the year – nothing quite goes exactly as you plan it – so I had to save what I could and find joy in the situation I found myself in. Because of the water damage – the 10 or so pages I hadn't filled up yet were difficult to work on – so I decided to see it as the universe filling them out for me and telling me to move on to a new sketchbook and start fresh.

Below is a selection of drawings from my sketchbooks I worked in while on my gap year – I see this as a unique souvenir of my year created by myself and the communities that inspired me.


This is a sketch of my host sister doing her homework after school accompanied by a quote of something she said to me the first time we hung out.

“I just realized I have not been on this good earth for so long”

A comic about an interaction Sana (my host sister) and I had early on.

A drawing of a mom and her toddler getting ready to go out somewhere. Unfortunately, this one was one of my favourites but was pretty badly water damaged.

This is a drawing of a billboard wishing the guy in the top left a happy birthday, with all the well wishers pictured in the rows below.

A comic about one way in which you can drape a scarf in the way you often see women outside wearing in order to ward of the sun and the dust while riding motorcycles and scooters.

Context: It’s really common for students to offer you food at break times – it’s also really common that they don’t wash their hands and clean things before offering them to you (often as a result of being in the third grade and forgetting these things)

Sketches of people, students, and a banana.

A comic about an interaction I had with a student once

Experimenting with different styles – the below is a sketch of an auto wala

A mother and child I saw in the nearby vegetable market one sunday.

A man selling and showing off dresses in a store in the heart of Pune

This year I challenged myself to try new things not only in my day to day life, but also in my sketchbook. I experimented with new styles and pushed the boundaries of what I thought was my comfort zone when it came to drawing and sketching.

I hope you were able to find some of the same joy in looking at my drawings that I found by making them.