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When Amazon Video’s Modern Love was released in 2019, I was instantly hooked. The romantic comedy anthology show was not only well written and beautifully performed but also surprisingly wholesome. It was no wonder that when the lockdown blues started creeping in around 3 months into the quarantine, I found myself yearning for something hopeful once again. That’s when I first discovered the Modern Love podcast by WBUR.  For those of you who may not know, the show was based on the popular New York Times column, Modern Love where people send in their own stories about love, loss, and life. This podcast involves well-known celebrities reading some of the best columns that the Times has received over the years along with real-life updates from the essayists themselves. The first one I heard was called “Grappling with the Language of Love,” a moving story about a woman who falls in love with an Iraqi doctor in a refugee camp and the problems they face due to the lack of a common language. At a time when there was isolation, boredom, and a deep sense of despair all around me, listening to this podcast felt like someone was whispering calming stories into my ear, making it easier to breathe.

Over a year has passed since then and I have come to realize that while the Modern Love podcast is what introduced me to this form of storytelling, I have come to enjoy other versions of it too! Like many others, I used to be skeptical when it comes to podcasts. I mean, if I was going to listen to a story, wouldn’t it be easier to read it? Or watch a video? Why would I want someone to explain something to me when it’s so much more convenient to make sense of something when you can see it in front of you? These points weren’t wrong, they were just a tad unfounded. Even though I still may not be able to listen to the Jane Eyre audiobook, podcasts are different. For one, they don’t necessarily require a lot of concentration. This was the reason most podcasts are heard during the morning commute. Even though traveling is not an option anymore, podcasts have maintained their popularity. The number of daily chores has increased and the opportunities to find time to listen to something are endless. Music remains the first choice for most, but a podcast is especially entertaining for those who enjoy ‘infotainment’. It’s actually wonderful to be able to learn an interesting fact about say, Russia or space or even serial killers (if true crime is your preferred genre) while washing the dishes. 

One of my earliest childhood memories is listening to Yaadon Ka Idiot Box on the radio while driving around with my parents. Narrated by journalist and lyricist Neelesh Misra, this was an Indian radio show where listeners would follow the journey of different imaginary characters in every episode. What started as a simple show on the radio ten years ago is a popular podcast today. Although a podcast is essentially the same thing, what’s fascinating is that even after the advent of countless sources of entertainment, most of which we can access at our fingertips, this continues to be beloved. Maybe it’s because unlike a movie it doesn’t simply show you everything. It forces you to visualize, to create your own version of an incident or interview. The world that you have constructed exists that way only for you. Although I love reading, one can’t deny that it can be a little lonely at times, particularly in a year where you’ve been listening to and looking at the same faces day in and day out. Podcasts, on the other hand, feel like listening to someone tell you something about their life. Because they’re basically talking in your ear, there is an element of intimacy involved wherein it feels like you almost have company and suddenly, you’re not so alone anymore. (In a non-horror movie way, of course)

If you take breaks from looking at your laptop by staring at the television or poring over your phone, it might be just the right time to switch things up and listen to a podcast instead! They cover every topic you can possibly think of so you’re sure to find something you will be interested in. Before we part, here are a few personal favourites you can explore in addition Modern Love:

  1. Netflix is a Daily Joke – This extremely short and hilarious podcast features your favorite comedians telling you a funny joke or anecdote. If listening to something for 20 minutes isn’t your cup of tea, you’ll be sure to like this one.
  2. Poems to Calm Down To – Performed by spoken word poet, Megha Rao this podcast explores the personal journey of an individual through poetry. It’s comforting and fulfills the purpose it has been rightly named after.
  3. Revisionist History – Author Malcolm Gladwell re-examines a particular event from the past from today’s lens and questions the original ideas we took away from it. This one will be interesting for all those who enjoy entertainment with a dose of information thrown in, even if you aren’t a history buff.

Snigdha's articles are better than her bios. An English major, reading and writing play a pivotal role in her life. On a bad day, you can count on her to make it better with poetry, a playlist and a steaming hot bowl of Maggi.    
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