Wednesday, January 04, 2012

New year resolutions

The first time my fifth or sixth grade school teacher asked me about my new year resolutions, I looked at her with a blank expression.  I had no idea what that meant.  And, I would have had no further idea for years to come if, I repeat, if she had not asked us to come up with essays on the topic.  That was also the year I was introduced to the concept of writing your own essays.  Till then, it was about cramming a few sentences in your head and spitting it out verbatim in the exam papers.

I asked a few blokes around me as to what resolutions meant.  All of them were as intelligent as I was, save for a few exceptions.  These guys were writing as if their whole lives were about to be shaped by this composition. They formed a kind of protective enclosure, with notebooks and text books surrounding the sheet on which they were writing, on three sides.  The fortress had an opening only for the pen or pencil to find its way through the gap.  And the eyes would stare in all directions as though about to kill anyone who stared in his direction.  The other buddies would nod at each other, as if to say, it's not worth the effort to look into the other guy's writing.

So, the rest would come up with their interpretation of what resolution meant and fill the pages.  Resolution, for the first time, would mean different to different people - dream, aspiration (not sure whether I knew the meaning of aspiration at that time), wish, goal, holiday, sport, game and so on.  My interpretation rested on hobby, and even though it's funny when you think about it, "My new year hobby" felt like a valid essay title.  So, I went on and on about how I would like to collect stamps from different countries, about how I would request stamps from different uncles and aunts, and friends in different places.  For the record, I had no uncle or aunt in other countries.  For that matter, I had no one living anywhere other than the southern part of the country.  I am not sure how it is now, but those days, the teachers had a habit of calling students near the board and read out their writings to the class.  As the handpicked students read out their essays, we would let out nervous guffaws when the teacher would say, "Are you sure resolution is a game?" or "Are you sure it means a holiday?" As the more knowledgeable read out their essay, the teacher would give out her sign of approval with a good or a nice.  They would bask in the glory while some looked at them in admiration and for the rest, would feel like kicking their butt.

Even though I did not make any new year resolutions, just thinking about it, I can do a dozen changes to my lifestyle.  For a start, I can spend less time on my iPhone and actually have a conversation with my wife in a restaurant.

Next, spend very little time reading.  If you have seen the Indian movies in the late nineties, you will always see a villain who shouts out dialogues like "Come on, tell me, where is the treasure located?" If the same question is put to me today, I will be in a position to point out the exact location of all the hidden treasures in the world.  Such is the information overload, I might choke to death with so much unwanted data.  Actually, knowing something about hidden treasure is not exactly a bad idea.

Next, eat healthy.  If given a plate of raw vegetables (salad) or a plate of Gobi Manchurian, I would want to pick the former.  That's almost impossible!

Moving on to my eternal goal next, which is to go to the gym regularly.  The gym going exercise is not to lose weight, but actually to gain some.  It has been a never ending exercise, and I think, this year too, it shall remain one.

Finally, the most important change would be to spend a little less time on cricket.  I realize how futile it is to waste precious hours of your life on a cricket match.  And, for a person who watches test cricket, it is like losing 40 hours a week for no good reason.  Considering that we had the world cup last year, along with test matches in South Africa, England and Australia, I must have easily lost about 375 hours (about 25 hours for the South Africa series, 100 hours for the England series, 30 hours for the Melbourne game, throw in about 100 hours for the six tests against the Windies, about 75 hours for the India games in the World Cup, about 50 hours watching highlights).  I have lost 50 days last year just watching cricket.  I can easily tell you that this is a very conservative estimate.  This does not include the amount of time I spend on cricinfo or the time spent discussing the game with friends.  I definitely want to reduce this time and bring it down to 25 days this year.

And, when I say read less, I meant the online information.  I really want to read at least 12 books (fiction/non-fiction/biographies/...) this year.  I think that's not too hard.  One book per month is a reasonable read, I suppose.  Let's see.

Since California is bestowed with a wonderful landscape, got to keep the weekend hiking plan going with friends.  Some of the places around are just breathtaking, and I would love to explore the area as much as possible.

But, for the time being, let me see if India can pull off a draw in the second test match at the SCG.  I can assure you that this will go in my quota of 25 days for this year.

Wishing everyone a very happy 2012.