Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Resolutions for a New Year

I know I'm about two months too late to be writing down my NY resolutions, but hey, better late than never! So here are the grand plans for this year (not in any order):

1. Exercise regularly. In researcher speak, it doesn’t matter that I’m relatively fitter than most others, I need to be healthy at an absolute level also. Do free hand exercises at home in case its still difficult to join a gym

2. Learn to play a musical instrument before the year is out. Can sign up for guitar lessons (memories of school fests always make the guitar seem so glamorous) or at least get my sister to teach me some basic piano playing (all the infrastructure and investment needed is already there at home!)

3. Join a language class – French, Spanish or at least Malayalam! Knowing a language that others don’t, can feel like a secret superpower

4. Stop dreaming about one day waking up to find that I have superpowers

5. Join a photography course – it combines aesthetics, creativity and stamps permanence on the face of time

6. Attempt playing tennis – again more for glamorous reasons. Keep having this vision of oneself smashing the ball across court with a glorious forehand shot. And yes, I was a Steffi Graf fan

7. Get my driver’s licence. Okay I know it doesn’t make sense till I get a car but hey I got a cycle and I still don’t know cycling!

8. Learn to cycle – wipe the dust off my beloved Dulaari (yes that’s what my bicycle’s been christened)

9. Keep a daily record of my expenses – I should know where I’m throwing my money! ‘Have money, will spend’ is not a good mantra

10. Take a vacation and get out of Kolkata. Going to places where I have family doesn’t count. Maybe go to the North this year.

11. Find out if there is some CRY / UNICEF programme I can help out with – not just financially

12. Stop and smell the roses – in other words, take some time off to do nothing rather than keep running around at a frenetic pace. Some quiet time is necessary to calm down

13. Take up one Home D├ęcor / SUPW project – embroidery, cross-stitch, painting – it’s a good way of passing time and its creative

14. Shop more in local markets and less frequently at the malls. They have good stuff at cheaper prices – never mind the crush of humanity.

15. Read more non-fiction. Be it history, politics or biographies – it expands mental horizons and makes one realize that one is not the centre of the universe

16. Do the crossword everyday – it used to be feel-good factor once upon a time

17. Speak less about own life and listen more to others even if they are just cribbing – sometimes people just want you to listen, not share.

18. Remember what people tell me. It’s rude not to. Especially when they can recall what you told them.

19. Learn to cook – some dal, chawal, sabzi at least. It’s a basic survival skill.

20. Send people flowers – it feels good

21. Blog more regularly. What’s the point otherwise?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

What say?

"If God made everything, then God must live in China!"

- Dennis the Menace

Saturday, February 20, 2010

That Saturday feeling

In keeping with the tone of my previous post, I have decided that Saturdays are the favourite day of the week for me.

They herald the end of the working week and the beginning of that complete holiday, Sunday. My school believed in a mid week holiday so while Thursdays were off, I had school on Saturday. Even in those days, I used to enjoy Saturdays - we were allowed to borrow books from the library on Saturdays, we also seemed to have dance classes or sports on this day plus my parents would come back early from work too! It was about as good as it could get for me back then!

Saturday is my semi-activity day. It's a day when one is relatively free from the shackles of everyday work but also a day when one can get things done. Like someone once said, 'only Robinson Crusoe had everything done by Friday'. :)
So on Saturdays, I may go to work, but its usually not for the whole day. This means that I can catch up with all the little tasks which have piled up during the week - going to the bank, getting a hair cut, buying that pair of jeans before the sale gets over, meeting friends for a cup of coffee, catching up on some much needed sleep, finishing the last few pages of the novel, watching the latest blockbuster...it makes me feel good. On Sundays most places tend to be closed so activities are somewhat restricted to malls and restaurants. More importantly Sundays make me feel like the end is near and time is running out on my precious weekend. Sunday evenings are by far the worst. You can see a 'Manic Monday' beckon with glee just round the corner.

So let me raise a toast to my favourite day of the week and mean it from the bottom of my heart when I say, 'I'll miss you when you're gone'!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Monday Morning Blues

Monday mornings raise existential questions within me.

I begin to question the basic tenets of life. Why am I here in office today? Is it really necessary to work? Where did my weekend vamoose? How does time pass faster when you are having fun? How come I never seem to get enough sleep over the weekend? You get the drift…

I find myself nodding sagely in empathy as I read the line, “Monday is a lame way to spend 1/7th of one’s life.” So true, so true.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Life is beautiful...

…we just need to take time out to appreciate it.

I am writing this at Cape Town airport while I wait for my flight back to my country. This was an official trip and hence for a short space of time. However just this short time was enough to clear my mind of the clutter that our hectic daily lives fill it with and absorb some peace from the surroundings. It is summertime in South Africa and the natural beauty of the country is several times enhanced.

Since I have visited this beautiful country before, I did not feel the need this time to rush about to any of the famed tourist spots nearby like Table Mountain, V&A Waterfront etc. Instead I enjoyed the beautiful weather in the town of Stellenbosch where I was staying. The town is free of the hustle and bustle that so often characterizes big cities. It is mainly a University town and has a laid back feel to it. Everyone seems to be enjoying the summer by spending as much time outside as possible.

The azure skies, the stately mountains in the distance, the huge acorn trees, the beautiful white houses lining the boulevards, the sound of soft music playing somewhere in the distance – the atmosphere is as intoxicating as the wine that the region is famous for. There is nothing loud or hurried – or so at least it felt to me. It is impossible to spend time here and not tap into an inner tranquility.

I remember in particular, one night when I was returning to my hotel after dinner. I looked up at the sky and was immediately mesmerized by the lavish sprinkle of stars. In the absence of the artificial lighting that proliferates in our cities streets, the stars seemed to shine brighter. I felt that I had never seen as many stars I saw that day. It took my breath away to see such awesome natural beauty. I think that was a defining moment for me somehow – the stillness of the night, the silhouette of the mountains and the giant trees framing a small slice of heaven.

This trip made me realize that sometimes it really just IS enough to take time out to smell the roses. And it’s just as simple. One just has to keep the senses open to capture all ‘intimations of immortality’ that may pass our way.