A quick scroll through Harnidh Kaur’s Instagram — with her poems that make you and your insecurities feel seen and her accessible guides to corporate networking — will explain why her 42,000 followers take solace in her work. Kaur, a poet and a start-up operator at Swiggy started writing when she was a teenager, publishing two poetry books, The Inability of Words and The Ease of Forgetting in 2016 and 2017 respectively. At 27 she’s still writing, both on the Internet and while working on her forthcoming book, Twentyish, about navigating life as a young millennial in India.
In an interview with Lounge, Kaur talks about finding beauty in the mundane and why everyone should write.
Describe your current workspace to us.
A mess because I just did laundry and everything is just lying around me. But I moved to Bengaluru recently and this is my first house. The entire room is in browns and beiges. The only pop of color is a bright blue chair. My desk is a mess. Mostly because half the time I end up crawling to the bed to work out of it because of meetings.
Has it always been this way? Or has it evolved over the years?
At home, I share a room with my sister, so most of the time we were just trying to figure out who is going to work when. A huge part of why I moved out was because, to quote Virginia Woolf, “I needed a room of my own.”
How would you define your daily relationship with this space?
I keep messing it up, keep fixing it back. When I'm very tired at the end of the day I switch on my humidifier. I put some essential oils in it. It reflects gorgeous golden light into the room – I sit in bed with a duvet on my legs and I just take a deep breath. In the mundaneness, often that moment of reckoning passes you by, but when you actually process it, you realise that you’ve made a little life for yourself.
Tell us about some of the eureka moments you have had and major works that you have done from here.
I feel like I’ve written a lot more since I've come here mostly because I have time to reflect. You know, you're cooking something and you get an idea. There’s meditation in putting out your own laundry. I feel like all these little pockets of silence have actually ended up facilitating the ability to think a little deeper.
Now that you do a lot more technical writing with your job and your Substack newsletter about hiring, how has the transition been of maybe initially identifying as a poet and then branching out into these different genres?
Honestly, it's been pretty seamless. I don't know why people keep expecting me to have this lightning bolt moment where I have transitioned from being a poet to a startup operator like, no, I can be both. I think writing is a practice everyone should be doing. Whether they identify as a writer or not. It's a very human thing to do. Doesn't matter if you think you're a good writer or not. That's not the point of it. The point is articulation. The point is tangibility.
If you were to trade in this place for another, what would it be?
A nice balcony somewhere in Italy would work. No, generally speaking, I wouldn't.
Describe your first book memory. What about them appealed to you?
Oh, this is going to get me canceled, but like every other true blooded millennial, my mum got me Harry Potter in the first or second grade. It's been tragic, I'd say, to feel that charm fade away because of (the controversies) surrounding the Potter books (and the author). For a lot of kids who were oddballs, and who were not the main characters, Harry Potter gave them a universe to belong to. I hope years from now that's the legacy that the books leave.
One genre you love but can't/don't want to write. Why?
I'm the biggest, most voracious fiction reader you’ll meet… but I cannot write it. I can observe and articulate things, but can I create them in my head? Probably not. I feel like people forget that observance and creativity are often delinked. Maybe the fact that I don't have access to it, emotionally makes me want that magic, you know.
Creative Corner is a series about writers, artists, musicians, founders and other creative individuals and their relationships with their workspaces