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.


  1. With the way we guys are playing now, I am sure they do not deserve that much devotion.

    Nice. All the best.

  2. I agree Siva, but what to do, we are obsessed with cricket! As I said, I am going to follow less :-)

    Thanks for visiting!

  3. Ok, lot of thoughts. Not sure where to start from.

    I never knew about new year resolutions till late in my life. I made some, but as everyone else, did not follow up through the entire year. And fresh at the workplace, I looked back what would be the problem. It was that my resolutions were too generic, not tied to particular measurable goals. Also, not many track against previous resolutions.

    So I decided to jot down, what I called as "Goal setting" instead of resolutions, with metrics attached (Visit 4 places in the year, Read 1 book per quarter). I also did the review at the year end (somewhere deep in my embarrassing blog would be those embarrassing and childish posts).

    I did that for couple of years, and felt good about the variance.I also felt being vague, could actually give you the feeling of meeting them (let's say, visit places would always have completed as against visit 4 places would have been completed only 50%).

    Last 2 years have been too busy to think or do anything else. I thought of restarting new year goals, need to sit down sometime. I have so much to do before that !


    I don't know why online reading is usually considered lowly compared to the books. Given the attention span I have, I think online reading suits me more. I have read good essays, heard good talks (like TED), that have enriched me more than I could possibly have from books. I am a slow reader, and hence books take forever for me. During earlier blog reading days, I used to feel the information overload and was kind of compelled to read everything. That habit got washed away during MBA. Now, I don't feel compelled to read everything (no FOMO). Even with that, I can say, I usually read too much compared to my other normal friends. But then they have different life ..I enjoy browsing web rather than watch a sitcom, or follow politics (though end up doing both - because, at the end, I am living a bachelor's life with too much time on my hand).

    I have forced myself to read books in the past though.. at one point, I decided to spend as much money on books as I would on movies.. as you can imagine, I bought a boat load of books and also reduced movies ( I always do better when numbers are attached I guess !) ..but could not sustain either.


    I want to pick up a meaningful hobby sometime ...although, I am too occupied mentally for now to do anything else.

    I know deep within that, it is not a good excuse. But, I go a lot by mind and mood, so I leave it at that.
    And finally Cricket. Long ago - before SA failed in semis due to a Klusener-Donald run mix-up, I used to follow cricket fanatically and discuss stats. (Of course, didn't have internet then to be too involved, but used to follow all newspaper articles I could put my hands on). That day, I felt hugely let down for all the sacrifice I had made to watch the matches. I removed myself, although kept getting pulled back into during peak times such as next world cups. But India's failing always reminded me that I need to keep in check. At PESIT, I famously stopped playing cricket with classmates , instead decided to sit in library and read some book. I even wrote a "reader's letter" to Bangalore Times about a stupid half page article they had posted in which some college kids argue who should be selected to Indian team and who should not be. That, is totally futile discussion and waste of time, I felt.

    After that worldcup match, I have not watched any match in complete length. I am interested in results many times, but I don't watch entire match.

    IPL first edition was interesting, but I lost track of it in the next ones. This past world cup, I was hooked more than ever … but immediately switched off after that.. now again, I just follow results and not watch the match at length. I sure know that I am missing a lot, but yeah..

    1. Hi Ravi, this is like a whole new blog post man :-) Interesting thoughts on the web learning. What I mean is I am so much into junk learning that I want to eliminate that. For example, what's the point in seeing a match report on cricinfo, times of india, deccan herald and so many other newspapers. It just doesn't make any sense.

      But yeah, it's good that you are not much into cricket. No need to spend so much time on the game. There are better things to do than to absorb yourself totally into one thing.

      And also, reading online has definitely reduced the attention span, isn't it? :-)