Thursday, January 31, 2013

Book Review: RIP



Title: RIP
Author: Mukul Deva
Publisher: Westland
Pages: 286







The cover was what got my attention. It showed a syringe pointing downwards and a bullet pointing upwards and the image of a commando flanking the middle and spilling over on to the back. Never judge a book by its cover, they say, but the cover of RIP by Mukul Deva invited me to pick it up and read it.


Fed up of the corruption and the increasing number of scams that rock the nation, Colonel Krishna Athawale, an ex-commando in the Indian army, puts together a band of loyal friends, all ex-para commandoes who have served with him in the 19th regiment, in a common mission to rid the nation of her ills. Identifying themselves as the Resurgent Indian Patriots (RIP, for short), these six men, calling themselves the K-team because their first names begin with K, make plans to strike at politicians whose scandals litter the front pages of newspapers. The act, they hope, will deter others from indulging in corrupt and unscrupulous acts.

Having killed three sidekicks of three corrupt politicians in three strikes held simultaneously in Delhi, Patna and Pune, they come to the attention of the media and the nation. Emboldened and certain that their cause is just, they announce to a TV channel the exact nature of the wrongdoing committed by the next three corrupt people they plan to kill next.

The announcement sends the political class, regardless of affiliation, into a tizzy. Security cover is enhanced as politicians make a desperate effort to protect themselves.

Even as the Central Bureau of Investigation conducts its investigation, the home minister initiates a private search by another ex-para commando, Raghav Bhagat, a rogue whose loyalty to his paymasters is unquestioned.

Despite these efforts, the K-team once again gets away with all three killings. But when the corruption continues unabated, the K-team decides to make one more strike, this time one so daring that it would shake the very ground beneath the feet of the politicians.

The action, however, is not limited to the political sphere, but encroaches upon the personal as well, as the lives of three of the protagonists, Krishna, Raghav, and the latter’s ex-wife Reena, who works at the TV channel, intersect.

The writing is consistently racy and quick, as long as it concerns the action parts. Deva certainly shows a firm grasp of the action narrative, but his sureness fumbles when he is describing the emotional sequences, displaying some tackiness.

The flashbacks are tedious. The slightest reference sees the lead characters hurtling down memory lane in revelations that are lengthy and pointless. This tendency is rather annoying, particularly when they are sitting on some pretty explosive action in the here and now. If those flashbacks were so important, they should have been dealt with separately and set off with asterisks.

Also, while it seems smart to say K-team and have a probability-defying occurrence of six people whose first names begin with K working together, it can cause a fair bit of confusion to the reader. Here the confusion is compounded, as midway through the book, Karan disappears, morphing into Kunal, then re-appears at the end.

For me the book could be divided into two peaks at the beginning and the end and a trough in the middle. This middle section of the book was characterised by poor writing and pathetic editing. Nothing much seemed to be happening here, other than the K-team making its plans and Reena and Krishna making up their minds about each other and a whole lot of unnecessary stuff about two young boys and their birthdays and football sessions. This was a great deal of excess baggage that undid the good work seen in the first part of the book. Suddenly it seemed as if Deva had forgotten that he was writing a thriller about vigilantes.

I almost gave up reading as I plodded through the middle. But the thought of completing the review led me to read on. Fortunately the climax of the book shook itself out of the morass and the pace quickened once again, proving Deva’s surefootedness in the action domain. The author showed himself capable of leading the reader at breakneck speed through to the end.

If only the deadweight around the middle could have been trimmed, this one would be a first-rate thriller throughout. 


This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at BlogAdda.com. Participate now to get free books!


Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Parenting – Then And Now


I’ve almost given up reading the newspapers these days. There’s just too much happening there that frightens the parent in me. I have been feeling completely overwhelmed.



When I look at my children, I feel a strong urge to protect them no matter what. To wrap them in my arms, so they feel secure.
It’s not that the world has suddenly become a more dangerous place to live in. Danger has always lurked around the corner. Parents have always warned their children not to talk to strangers.
But the definitions of stranger and danger were more clearly demarcated back when I was a kid. That apart, there are other problems. When we were kids,parents and kids alike weren’t running faster just to stay in the same place.
Today the challenges that confront us as parents are manifold. Stress, greater demands on our time, resulting from greater economic pressure, and fewer support systems have begun to tell on us. The strain is showing.
Of course, in the interests of fairness, I must admit that we have far more resources to help with parenting challenges today than our parents had.There are childcare books, magazines and websites, including Parentous.com, written by informed amateurs and professionals alike. Compare this with the lack of correct information and the over-enthusiasm of friends and family that our parents had to contend with as they struggled to listen to their own parenting instincts. Today we have more knowledge on our side, besides more support when it comes to our children’s needs, no matter what those needs may be.
The fact that there is less pressure on women to be perfect housewives is leaving us more freedom to achieve our own goals and dreams and grow as individuals. The learning and experience can only help us to become better mothers.
The fact that we are delaying marriage and parenthood is enabling us to bring in some more wisdom and maturity to our parenting struggles. Thanks to this maturity, we are able to establish a more equitable relationship with our children, one in which we can be parents, establishing rules and providing security, while being friends, enabling a higher degree of honesty and communication between us. Whether we’re up for the challenge or not, at least our children know that they can come to us for answers, even when the questions are tricky or uncomfortable.
Technology too has helped make our task easier. Today we have cell phones to help us keep in touch with our children when they are away. A delayed class, a cancelled train, they’ve lost the power to terrorize parents. I can still remember the stress my mother used to undergo if we were even five minutes later than the time we were supposed to be home. And that in a far safer age! And of course, if there was an emergency, she would be even more stressed out.
But on the flip side, we’ve lost far more than we’ve gained. Back then, we used to spend whole evenings playing with our friends. Raucous playtimes they used to be. At any given moment, our parents weren’t aware where we were.We may have been at one friend’s house watching TV, or at another friend’s playing carom or in the open ground outside playing outdoor games. Wherever we were, we were safe. The community was an extension of the family, and under its benign gaze, we thrived.
School itself was a safe zone. We studied the stuff in the syllabus, and competed with our classmates in a variety of areas. But we were not subject to the intense pressure that kids these days undergo.
Today we have doubts about our kids’ safety and security. Whether they are at home with a maid, or at school, or at a friend’s house, we can’t help feeling nagged by worry. When they are online, we have a new spectre to worry about. Cybercrime is real and dangerous, and we hope our children will be safe from its clutches.
Back in the day, my parents knew all my close friends, the ones I hung out with. They knew them all by Face and had their names, phone numbers, and addresses in their Book. When the time comes, I shudder to think of the “Friend” request I will have to send out to La Niña and El Niño, and of the other/alter life that kids assume online.
Television brings so much of sexuality and violence into the drawing-room long before children are capable of processing it sensibly. Thankfully, La Niña and El Niño barely watch any TV, except for Go, Diego, Go and Dora The Explorer whose content I heartily approve of.
Then again, most families back in my childhood were single-income families. The very word ‘disposable’ income had not yet come into vogue and parents were forced to make a rupee stretch as thin as possible in order to meet the family’s needs. Today double-income families have become the norm, and family times, once the high point of the dinner table, have become scarce. Children’s daily routines comprise so many activities today that they hardly have the time to be themselves and enjoy their childhoods blissfully.
When you think of it, the goals of parenting remain the same, even as the challenges and the contexts differ from one generation to another. As mothers and fathers, we have the responsibility of looking after our kids and raising them well, looking after their needs and wants, equipping them to be confident and secure, teaching them the difference between right and wrong and encouraging them to choose the right option every time, even when the choice is difficult. Even as we do so, we struggle against circumstances, the tedious business of earning a living, and the challenges that life and society throw at us.
I grew up in a very secure and loving family atmosphere. My parents, despite having very little, raised us well, giving us the comfort of knowing we were loved and the courage to go out and chase our dreams.
Looked at from my standpoint as a child, my parents were all-knowing. I knew I could rely upon them through any difficulty and my trust remains staunch to this day.
I hope the Husband and I can do the same for our children, so that at some long-distant point in the future, they will look back on us and see that despite the challenges we faced, we did our best. And that whatever we did, we did out of love.







This post was originally written for Parentous.com, on online community for parenting-related issues. You can read the original post HERE.


Thursday, January 17, 2013

Book Review: THE STUPENDOUS TIMETELLING SUPERDOG



Title: The Stupendous TimeTelling Superdog
Author: Himanjali Sankar
Publisher: Duckbill Books
Pages: 139








Rousseau, named after Jean-Jacques Rousseau, the 18th century French philosopher, is a superdog. No, he doesn’t wear underwear and a cape, and he doesn’t save the world from crime.

But he does save the world from Timelessness, a catastrophe that the world is thrown into when all clocks, watches and timepieces come to a grinding halt.

Of course, dogs, as we all know, are already super creatures, thanks to their heightened sense of smell and hearing. But Rousseau, the family dog of Anya and Kaavya and their mother, Mrs Ghosh, is superior, even compared to other canines. He barks and wags and thumps his tail, all classic tricks in the repertoire of dogs, to tell time.

Other than that superpower, he lives an ordinary life with the Ghosh family, and does the pointless things that all dogs do, including knocking things and people down, chasing flies and digging holes in the ground.

That ordinariness changes when the Orange Marmaladies from the Black Hole of Time, the original timekeepers of the Universe, begin to fret over the fact that they have become invisible to humans. They decide to do something drastic so as to ensure that they are once again friends with humans. 

The drastic step that they take, unfortunately for them, does not have the desired effect. Instead of suddenly making them visible to humans, it stops all timekeeping devices on earth, including microwave ovens, computers, mobile phones and traffic lights, throwing the entire world into a state of extreme confusion.

Rousseau’s presence saves the Ghosh family from growing crazy. But can his superpower save the world from its state of timelessness? You will have to read the book to find out.

The Orange Marmaladies, by the way, are orange and friendly creatures. They are somewhat shapeless and fuzzy and have two bright eyes and mouths that love to talk. They love to sing and dance and strike funny poses and they like page 27 of every book in existence. They love fashion shows, and the Miss Universe pageant is their favourite. Of course, you mustn’t be misled by the name. Some of the Orange Marmaladies are gentlemen too.

The occasional second person conversational style works well in a children’s book, and Himanjali Sankar has used it to good effect here.

I also liked the nuggets of wisdom that Himanjali packed into this book. I’m sure they won’t fail to impress our children. While we are bound and governed by clocks today, and helpless without them, our ancestors told time just by looking at the sky above. What did they care for the minutes and seconds? And weren’t they happier for it? Similarly, why do we make such a to-do about mirrors? Do animals have any use for them? It is only we humans who set so much store by them, using them to criticise and demean ourselves in our own eyes.

Pooja Pottenkulam’s illustrations are adorable. She seems to have the happy knack for picking up the funniest lines from the book and translating them into a cartoon with her own happy touch. My favourite is the one on page 44.

Bonus points for the presentation of the book. The many tiny illustrations that pepper the book, besides the cute little paw prints that serve as a frame for the page numbers, all add to its charm.

My only grouse was that Himanjali has not given the subplot of the Orange Marmaladies a happy ending. I thought they had so much potential. If only she had given them a more substantial role in the unfolding drama, things would have got even more rollicking.

I also wish it would have been possible to see an Orange Marmalady, at least in an illustration. But of course, Pooja, being only human, would not know what they looked like. As they say, Alas!

Rousseau is an extremely lovable chap. And that is a big statement coming from me, considering that I am not a dog lover.

I’m sure the Orange Marmaladies liked page 27 of this book.

Not being an Orange Marmalady, I liked all 139 pages.



I received a copy of The Stupendous Timetelling Superdog for this review.




Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Book Review: THE WIDOW OF SAUNDERS CREEK




On the surface, The Widow of Saunders Creek by Tracey Bateman is a sweet story that combines the themes of romance, grief and friendship against the backdrop of some dangerous paranormal activity. But probe beneath the surface, and you will find that this is above all a tale of faith in God’s name as the answer to every problem.

Jarrod, a soldier, dies a hero's death in Iraq, leaving his young widow, Corrie, to mourn his untimely death. Unable to get over her grief, she decides to head back to the boyhood home he inherited from his grandmother in Missouri, in the Ozarks. Having dreamed of a lifetime together with her husband, she is unable and unwilling to reconcile with his sudden death and the realization that he is lost to her forever. She secretly hopes that living in his boyhood home will give her an opportunity to feel him near and get over her sorrow.

When she begins to sense some unseen presence around her, responding to her in just the way her husband used to, she welcomes it, believing it to be Jarrod come back to comfort her. But Eli, Jarrod's cousin and pastor at a little rural church, knows better. He knows that the forces of evil are very strongly cultivated in those parts and fears the power of his own Aunt Trudy and some other family members, who dabble in the dark arts.

Slowly Eli and Corrie begin to develop feelings for each other. Yet Eli refrains from revealing his, feeling that he has no right to push Corrie who needs time to get over her grief and heal in peace.

Corrie, on her part, struggles with her own feelings for Eli, and sees in her growing attraction to him a disloyalty to Jarrod. Rejecting Eli’s mother’s suggestion that she stop considering the presence in the house as Jarrod and ask it to leave, she prefers to call Aunt Trudy over to conduct a séance. It is only when this act arouses the malevolent spirit that Corrie realizes the extent of the evil that she has been toying with.

The book has been written in the first person perspectives of Corrie and Eli, each alternating with the other and discussing every situation from its own unique and distinct point of view. To her credit, Bateman has managed to achieve this distinctness without resorting to dialect to distinguish between the perspectives of the two leading characters. The characterisation comes out through the language, sounding unmistakably feminine when it is Corrie's perspective, and masculine when Eli is talking.

The alternative writing from the POV of the two leads gives us the perspective of seeing each situation more fully. As a composite of the experiences of the key people involved.

Bateman’s writing is masterful. I actually experienced the feeling known as "hair standing on end" when Corrie experiences the invisible entity beside her in the house. Bateman succeeded in creeping me out with her descriptions of spooky phenomena, building the required tension in the atmosphere even as chairs rock on their own, doors slam, and Corrie gets the sudden feeling that she is not alone in the room – they are all there. And yet this novel is much more than a mere ghost story. Those expecting to be spooked out completely will be very disappointed.

This is essentially a novel about faith and sounds a clear warning against messing around with the dark arts. Bateman reiterates, through Eli’s conviction and Corrie’s experiences in the house, that His Name is enough.

Bateman’s style of writing is fluid and beautiful, and there are many times when you feel a lump in your throat. Especially when she writes about the mural that Corrie paints as an apology for Eli or the reconciliation between Corrie and Jarrod’s parents. There were a number of tricky issues that were handled well. The selfishness, cowardice and cruelty that were part of Jarrod’s character, the Jarrod that Corrie never knew; the strength of Corrie’s gift for painting are but a few examples.

The only place where the writing falters ever so slightly is when Eli and Corrie have put the evil out of their lives and are free to contemplate a new life together. Thankfully, this romantic interlude comes at the close of a book that is well worth the time it takes to read it.


I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.


Much Ado About Milestones

Nothing, I am convinced, brings out the competitive spirit in new parents as does the clocking of milestones by their children.

Unfortunately for me, both La Niña and El Niño were late bloomers in the first fifteen months of their lives. They got their first tooth late. They started walking late. They didn’t sit up until much after they had turned seven months old.

The Husband remained calm in the face of the delays, and tried to relieve my anxieties. He insisted that all things would happen when they had to and that there never was a case of a child not having any teeth. He added that those who have a head start in the running department don’t necessarily become accomplished athletes. But I worried. And I prayed.
Both my children also skipped the crawling stage entirely. Instead, they preferred to move forward on their rears, using their hands to propel themselves forward. La Niña pitched camp at sitting position for a long time, then did the rear-onward act, and then finally began to cruise around using the furniture and the walls for support. She began to walk independently exactly one month after her first birthday. El Niño sat around for a long time, then moved forward exactly as his sister had done.
I agonized over it. There always seemed to be someone or the other waiting to remind me that their own children had started flipping over onto the belly at 3 months, sat up at 5 months and started running at 7 months of age. My futile attempts to remind them that there was a range of months, not one magical day, during which children could ‘normally’ attain milestones met with derision because their kids had clocked those positions at the beginning of the range. I even weaned myself off Facebook to avoid seeing the videos and photos of the exploits of other mothers’ super-endowed children.
Some people tried to be helpful. They ventured the suggestion that maybe La Niña and El Niño both had very heavy heads, making it difficult for them to bear the weight on their thin legs. The Husband, ever the optimist, beamed with pleasure, reminding me the way Sherlock Holmes had reminded Dr Watson in The Blue Carbuncle – “A man with so large a head must have something in it.”
Eventually El Niño skipped the intervening milestones to start walking. Of course, he would walk if we walked backwards, holding both his hands in ours, and led him on. But the confident walk came a week short of the day he completed 16 months of age.
The teething aspect also gave us a fair degree of trouble. La Niña got her first tooth at 11 months of age and El Niño at 13 months. But that didn’t stop either of them from enjoying a range of foods.
I wish doctors would play their part in relieving the anxieties of parents regarding the clocking of developmental milestones. Often kids don’t tick off all milestones in the order in which it appears they should. There is no guarantee that a child will first turn on its side, then on its tummy, then do some back and front movements, prop itself up into a sitting position, crawl, pull itself up into a standing position, cruise around with the help of furniture, and then walk.
As parents, we would do well to remember that no two babies are alike, not even siblings, when it comes to coursing the developmental path. Each baby develops at a different pace. To gauge the milestones of premature babies, paediatricians recommend the use of an ‘adjusted’ age to level the field. The adjusted age takes into account the difference between the baby’s birth date and the mother’s due date and deduct that difference from the baby’s age.
Having gone through my own concerns for my children, I have begun to understand that parents must keep themselves informed about the normal range for all milestones, and report their fears to their child’s doctor. Often the right kind of stimulation and encouragement can help a child to achieve the next milestone. And if a child does not attain the milestone by the time he/she should, it might be time for some medical intervention.
Through countless nighttime worries and readings of relevant websites, I have also begun to understand that growth and development from the perspective of babies is just like an elevator in a really tall building. Children will not get off at every floor, and some might spent inordinately more time on one floor than on another, and some others might skip a few floors and revisit them at a later date. It does not matter.
There are always some milestones that parents can enjoy and cherish. In my case, while my children took their own sweet time with regard to locomotion and teething, they were quick to reach their cognitive, emotional and linguistic milestones. Both La Niña and El Niño turned their heads to catch sounds pretty early. They made eye contact, turned their heads at the sound of their names, smiled, cooed, gurgled, laughed, grabbed things, extended arms and legs, waved, tried to feed themselves and babbled in response to conversation in four languages – all bang on schedule or in some cases, even earlier. Surely that is no mean feat, the Husband reminded me.
Fortunately for my peace of mind, eventually the milestones that had been in a stage of arrested development showed themselves. El Niño, having managed the putting-one-foot-before-another business spared no time in catching up with the running, jumping and climbing milestones. Today they both keep me on my toes with their naughty antics and their precociousness.
I’m certain my prayers helped.



This post was originally written for Parentous.com, on online community for parenting-related issues. You can read the original post HERE.


Sunday, January 13, 2013

Towards More Meaningful Conversations

The average parent spends 38.5 minutes per week in meaningful conversation with his/her children, the tidbit of trivia proclaimed from the page of a magazine that my temporary neighbour in the bus was reading. Naturally, I was intrigued. Unfortunately, no sooner had I made myself comfortable next to her, she folded her newspaper and proceeded towards the exit. Leaving me to wonder, where did I rank as a parent on the meaningful conversations scale?


I started having conversations with La Niña and El Niño as soon as the pain of the C-sec surgery began to wear off. Day 2, I think it was. I just talked, about the fun we would have, the places we would go to. I had read somewhere that with every word we speak, we are making deposits in the memory banks of our children, teaching them to speak, form sentences, and express themselves.
As a working woman who spends a little less than 5 hours commuting to and from work, I have precious little time with my children. By the time I reach home, it is time to feed the children and put them to bed to ensure that they get their daily quota of sleep and that my school going daughter in particular is able to wake up on time the following morning. While El Niño, at 20 months, is too young to hold a conversation with, La Niña at 4½ years of age has a lot to talk about.
To my despair, she rarely talks about what happened at school. I feel a little left out sometimes, considering that as a child, I used to give my mother a word-for-word account of what happened at school. She knew all my teachers, their physical descriptions, habits, foibles, attitudes, even though she had never seen them. I miss that with La Niña.
The thing I remember and cherish most about my conversations with my mother when I was a child was the histories she would share, old family tales and anecdotes that told me more about myself in turn. Those stories put life into perspective for me. I look forward to sharing such stories with my kids.
While La Niña is not very keen on talking about school, there is a lot that my little girl does want to talk about. She faithfully relates to me the conversations she has with her imaginary friends, one of whom is a single woman named Chennai, and another is a married mother of three boys named Calcutta. The boys incidentally are named PeruFanas (Marathi for guava and jackfruit) and Banana. I enjoy these conversations and look forward to them.
La Niña’s stories are widely imaginative and thoroughly entertaining. They tell me a lot about her state of mind at any time, things she worries about, things she is upset with etc. Sometimes she even sneaks in some news about school happenings, but from the perspective of one of the three fruit-boys.
We talk all the time, all through her waking hours. Even when she is watching TV, she discusses what she watches. The other day, one of the biscuit ads showed a boy eating a biscuit and turning into a tiger. “What a crazy ad!” she declared, “Eating biscuits does not make you a tiger.”
Often she asks me questions about how my day has gone. At first, I found myself trying to simplify things so she would understand until a day when I realised that I was underrating her capabilitiesand that she was capable of understanding far more than I was giving her credit for.
I am always amazed at our conversations. La Niña is very observant and often initiates discussions about things she sees. We have spoken about a destitute woman lying on the road, homeless families, crowded trains, buses and helicopters and hungry crows, among other things.
These interactions have helped me to realise that meaningful conversations don’t necessarily have to be about weighty subjects. They could be about the simplest of things, but they have to have meaning for you. La Niña and I have had meaningful conversations about why a dog’s tail is shaped like a question mark, about where crows get their food from and why school buses are always painted yellow. I allow myself to get engrossed in those conversations, because I know that if the channels of communication between us are kept open and free, she is more likely to approach me when difficult questions plague her mind.
Of course, there are many times when she really tests my patience. Through her angry refusal to do my bidding and my explosive ranting, I have come to realise that even though we are both talking a lot at such times, it isn’t a conversation that is helping either of us.
Having meaningful conversations with children has wide-ranging benefits. Conversations help our children to break up the events of the day into bite-sized pieces that are easy to understand and relate to. Numerous studies have found that parents who engage in meaningful conversations with their children are rewarded with offspring who are more motivated, more emotionally secure and confident. Never underestimate the power of regular parent-child conversation.
Successful conversations also require us to respond immediately when children first call out to us, to listen with more than our ears, to give our complete attention to our children, to not interrupt when they are talking, to encourage their questions and respond to them with affection.
Sadly modern life doesn’t leave us much time to engage in conversation with our partners, let alone our children. It would help if we could drum up the strength of will required to turn off the television, stay logged out of our emails and social networking sites, and eat meals together.
It’s best to start early with children while they still think of us as the epitome of wisdom. Before we know it, the kids will grow up and we might have to run the risk of indulging in conversation that is a mixture of texting and grunting.
Meanwhile, I still don’t know how well I measure up on the meaningful conversations scale. Maybe I should go home and initiate a deep conversation with La Niña on the subject.


This post was originally written for Parentous.com, on online community for parenting-related issues. You can read the original post HERE.










Tuesday, January 08, 2013

13 goals for 2013


Statistically, they say, most New Year's resolutions die by January 13. I’m hoping to give mine the gift of longevity this year. Which is why I’m taking no chances.

For starters, I’m not even going to call them resolutions. The thing with the word ‘resolutions’ is that they all go predictably along the lines of This-year-I-will-do-this and I-will-not-do-that. And therein lies the problem.

You do or avoid doing the thing in question for some days, and then one day, other commitments, failure of infrastructure, illness etc, cause you to miss the date. And Poof! There goes the resolution into the trash can.

For years I have made resolutions, believing that it is a traditional thing to do at the beginning of a brand New Year. I have always had a compulsion to mark the clean slate that the New Year gave me by framing a resolution or two, none of which ever outlived the first fortnights of their lives.

The first time I missed my date with the resolution, I would be so dejected that I would not have the courage to try afresh until the following New Year. I remember how at the beginning of every school year, I would resolve to write neatly in my notebooks. No smudging, no blotting, no cancelling, I would tell myself. If that wasn’t hard enough, I would tell myself that the handwriting had to be beautiful, as calligraphic as I could manage to make it when the teacher was dictating at the speed of 80 words per minute. If that meant that I miss out some important paragraphs along the way, I wasn’t fazed. That was what they called collateral damage, I thought.

And then at the first blot or cancellation, I would be so distraught that I would completely give up wanting to write neatly. It was as if the pristine purity of the page had been marred, and there was no sense in striving for what was lost.

This year, in a remarkable break from tradition, I decided not to make any resolutions at all. Instead, I decided to make 13 goals for the Year 2013. If I must fail, at least I will fail BIG. On the flip side, even if I succeeded in a few of the goals, it would still be a worthwhile exercise.

To be honest, in the best traditions of kyon ki saas bhi kabhi bahu thi, a lot, but not all, of these goals have been resolutions in the past.

I am just rehashing them. Giving them what is popularly known as a fresh lease of life.

Karen Lamb once said, “A year from now you may wish you had started today.” After years of making the same regret-speeches, I’ve finally decided to see if I can’t fool myself into achieving my goals for a change.

So here’s to me and my attempt to make a brave new beginning through no less than 13 goals:

 Blogging
Blog more often. In 2012, I had 62 posts to my credit, which was a huge jump from the 7 in 2011 and the 3 posts each in 2010 and 2009. This year, can I aim for ONE HUNDRED posts? Is that too much to ask?

Writing
Write more. Can I make a promise to myself? Can I commit to finishing TWO short stories this year? How about 10 poems?

Read at least one book every month. Fortunately this one’s easy.

Skill-enhancement
Work towards becoming fluent in Spanish. Earlier I had typed, “Become fluent in Spanish.” Then realised it was best to be realistic about these things.

Crochet something. Anything. A baby blanket or booties or a scarf or stole or doily or table runner. Whatever. Just use up those boxes of yarn I feel compelled to buy.

Self-improvement
Hold no grudges. This is going to be tough. I can tell.

Pray the Rosary every day. More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of.

Do a random act of kindness as often as possible. Preferably to someone who cannot pay me back.

Make a list of bad habits, and get rid of at least one. I’m not telling which one.

10 Volunteer at a good cause.

Miscellaneous
11 Get organised. And that means de-cluttering.

12 Get financially smarter.

13 Keep in touch with old friends. I’m not very good at picking up the phone and calling, or writing the odd letter. I need to change that this year.

So that’s my list of 13 goals.

Don’t forget to drop in this time next year to see what fate they meet.



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