Hello 2014!

Yes, I know, everyone around you is getting poignantly retrospective or profoundly flashback-y. Or they are busy professing their desire to fist bump this New Year with their all new awesomeness, new lifestyle, new diet, new shoes and a new face. Yes, it’s that time of the season when a heady new rush of determination surges through everyone’s veins. “I’ll quit this”. “I’ll start that”, “I’ll change this”, I’ll become that”. Resolutions, they are called. Yes, thank you, it’s all very inspiring. But no, this is not one of those ‘Let’s turn over a glorious new leaf’ piece of writing. This is more of a “Let’s just stop being hard on ourselves by setting unrealistic goals and then trying hard to drag our broken selves up from the abyss of shame and through the gooey mess of failure’ kind of a story.
Truth is yes, we all want to start afresh on the New Year. Maybe it’s the fact that we just want to pin all our failures, unrealised dreams and longings on one magical day, which we think will miraculously transform everything and shower us with joy, love and the fairy dust of achievement-unlockeds. Or maybe it’s something as simple as we have a brand new calendar or a stylish year planner with fresh, shiny pages of dates filled with the promise of unknown, ready to be painted in the colours we choose, begging to be filled in with more interesting data than last year. Maybe just looking at it makes it hard to not want to do things right, if not perfect. So, yes, let’s not get all ‘I’m too cool for resolutions’ around here. Let’s face it, it’s just very rewarding to start a New Year with a spanking new list of Things To Do. It makes your life seem so much more like the beginning of a feel-good rom-com than not. So, let’s go make that list! But let’s instead cut the inspirational and motivational and life-changing baloney and set some satisfying short-term goals, or tasks rather, for ourselves, that are easy to achieve, are highly joy-inducing and will never ever make you feel like a letdown. Let’s make the more realistic-adequately-satisfying-and-guilt-free-New Year resolution list![hr]

Be an intrepid, adventurous and exciting backpacker… In your own neighbourhood!

Cemetery No. 9 It can be safely said that travel became the toast of well, everything in 2013. Being known as a traveller, wanderer, backpacker, globetrotter and *insert other fancy labels* became way cooler than being a photographer (which was 2012’s thing). And if you are a photographer who is travelling! Well, you just have it all don’t you? From Facebook pages and Tweets to Buzzfeed lists and Instagrammers with well-endowed naked girlfriends leading them across the world, every possible medium was busy rubbing travel adventures IN YOUR FACE! And your role in this world of shiny, happy travellers was relegated to just sharing of all these stories with a envious I-will-go-there-someday-too-you-lucky-basket kind of attitude. First up. Let me tell you, NO ONE who is travelling more than you is ‘lucky’ to live that life. They chose that life for themselves. They took the decision to quit their jobs or not, carefully, weighing the pros and cons, based on the money they have painfully saved, based on the size of their courageous pair of ermm.. feet! So, yes, you don’t have to wish you had their lives. You have yours — A brilliant, happy life with the ability to do what you want. With the potential to achieve what you set your heart on. So, just swallow those self-doubts, that constant sense of pining for sun-drenched elsewheres and stop bookmarking all those unrealistic travel destinations like Zhangye Danxia, Bora Bora or God knows Where. Get real. Get up. Get going. Travel in your own city. Go see that century-old building that exists less than 10 kilometres away. Go stroll around your neighbourhood. Go discover what lies beyond the perimeters of your city. Go be a tourist in your own hometown. Go take that weekend trip to someplace quiet. Or go someplace so noisy that is it is screaming to be heard. Go find those stories begging to be seen while you were busy envying someone else’s stories. Oh, just GO already![hr]

Be charitable. All it takes is abig heart reasonably-sized bank balance.

The Friendly Dog at Agonda I’ve seen tons of resolutions of people who swear to become Martin Luther Kings or Florence Nightingales overnight and change the face of this universe with their sheer blinding radiance of do-goodery and their orphanage-visiting and puppy-saving personas. That’s just awesome. And amazing. You are amazing. But just between you and me, you are never going to do anything, are you? Ok maybe, yes, you did share some morphed misrepresented picture of a dying child who will miraculously get cured with the number of likes pouring down from the haven we call Facebook, but you haven’t really done anything to redeem yourself of your mortal sins, have you? So, let’s set a very simple goal which will make you the good guy in an instant. We are all not inclined to be brilliant examples of human beings. It’s not our fault. We are too caught up in our own mess and maybe, we just don’t have the time. So, let’s not beat ourselves up about it and let’s be realistic. We may never be that one noble guy on your friend’s list who is saving countries for a living with his voluntary work. We may not have the mindspace or the passion, but you see, what we do have is the money. Each one of us makes a decent stash selling our souls to become corporate slaves and we won’t even notice if a few thousands (which you spent on one movie-popcorn-beer-and a cab ride) went missing. Google up information or ask around and find some good charitable organisation that takes your money (since you don’t have the time) and uses it to sponsor the education of a child or to feed a hungry pup or whatever it takes to melt that beautiful heart of yours. On the upside (apart from the gooey, warm, fuzzy, feelings that comes when your sponsored child sends you a New Year greeting), this amount can be used for tax reduction. You don’t have to feel guilty about being a bad person anymore and yes, show off your grand deed all you want on Facebook. You earned this one![hr]

Be a happy trooper. Not a whiny grouch.

Success Baby Ok, so as cliched as it sounds, just smile. A lot. You look good when you do that. Like really good. And the way your nose crinkles and the laugh lines near your eyes scrunch up your face into this adorable happy ball of joy is impressive. But then Y U NO smile enough. Y U always complaining. And being grumpy. On Facebook updates. On cryptic Gtalk statuses. On the road. Yes, you. With that sourpuss face ruining my perfectly fine morning. I’m fed up of explaining to people why I think Europe is so beautiful because everyone there, wears beatific smiles wherever you look. Yes, I know, they don’t have to worry about stressful things like traffic, public transport, potholes and other Third World maladies. But these are the cards you are dealt with, no? So, you might never get the Royal Flush. But you can make a moderately happy day out of a Three of a Kind. Ok pardon the poor poker analogy. But you know what I mean? This is our HERE. This is our NOW. We maybe young, or not-so-young. But we have good lives. We all have at least one person who loves us unconditionally (mummmyyyy! <3) and the ability to go buy whatever greasy grub we are craving for whenever we want and have a decent set of cronies around as friends. Life’s good. We are living in the best of worlds. We have the hallowed mighty interwebs at our disposal for everything. We never need to walk to a store for anything more. I mean, isn’t that the dream? Ok, if it’s not your’s, there are many other miraculous 21st century discoveries and inventions catering to whatever rocks your boat. So, just stop fussing about the little details, ok? It’s never as bad as you make it out to be. So, cut the drama and lighten up. You are awesome. Let’s all toast to that lovely fact with a smile. Ok?[hr]

Be glamorously awesome and hilarious online, but at least be moderately interesting offline.

Abigail & Tushar Yes, we all know of digital fatigue and smartphone addiction and Facebook rehab and all other amusing smear campaigns on this evil evil monster called technology that’s swallowing us whole. Yeah, yeah, we heard the conspiracy theories and we were suitably terrified on learning that all kinds of big corporations were spying on us. Shiver me timbers! So, yes, we may be a little too dependent on those shiny toys that never leave our palms (take it from the crazy Candy Crush addict who keeps changing the phone’s date to get extra lives), but it’s ok. Instead of thinking about the good old days when there was no Internet and we all lived by our caveman ethics and technology-less ecstasy, let’s appreciate the joy it brings to our lives. The Internet and technology are wonderful. We can’t imagine our lives without them. But, here’s the but. For every incredibly funny or profound status you put up online, start a moderately interesting discussion offline. For every sharp witticism you post as a comment, make an averagely funny conversation-starter offline. Balance it out. Shine like a stunning diamond online. But at least give out the dim glow of burning coal embers offline. Stick your face into the phone and share away every tiny detail furiously on all your whatsapp groups. But stop for a few hours when you have friends and family around and share the big things with them honestly and earnestly. You’ve managed to become the toast of the online world with your innumerable likes. Great. Now put in at least half the effort and win some laughter punches and high-fives in real life. Know people. Like really KNOW them. Like maybe if we didn’t ALWAYS have only whatsapp and chat conversations, you would know that I sing loud and I know the lyrics of every song I ever heard and that I LOVE listening to online radio and that I love Boyzone. No, not ironically in the ‘Haha-look-at-me-I’m so-funny-I’m-listening-to-a-boyband’ but for real. Ronan Keating <3. If you knew this about me, you know you are doing this whole real life living right. Ok, we digress. So, point is that in each one of us is an passably pleasing personality and let’s amuse, if not dazzle, the real world with it once in a while. Meanwhile, continue pwning the online world! You have my blessings. Now, run along away from that laptop or phone screen and look for anything that is remotely human in your vicinity, I just gave you a real-life talking point to start off with.[hr]

Change your wallpaper.

Rebyl and Daniel Yes, change it. Change it NOW. This particular life mantra was suggested by the husband and I don’t know why, but the second I heard it I knew that there is a profound metaphor lurking somewhere inside the idea of changing your wallpaper. I have not found the symbolism yet, but I’m sure your lovely, intelligent brain will find its own interpretation. For now, let’s stick to, if you are going to be looking at your screen ALL the time, you might as well change your wallpaper. Sounds urging enough. Just make sure it’s HD.

Here’s to a more-realistic-adequately-satisfying-and-guilt-free-New Year!