Make a fresh start as Diwali rings in a new year…
First off, a very Happy Diwali to all of you. I hope you’re having a splendid morning. That you’re not too bleary-eyed after staying up into the early hours because of the loud crackers heralding the beginning of ‘Chhoti Diwali’ (the prelude to the main act that starts today). That you are not hungover, having had a few too many at the party last night. That you’re not bummed about having lost money at teen patti with friends (if it helps, remember that losing means you will make much more money this year). And that you’re starting the day with a piece of mithai (kaju barfi is my favourite) with your morning cup of tea and coffee.
If you are in business or trade, you will soon be heading to the office or shop to conduct a Lakshmi Puja, an invocation to the Goddess of Wealth, so that she continues to bless your ventures. And if you are a traditionalist, you will be starting a new book of accounts to herald the beginning of the New Year.
Well, I am all in favour of starting with a clean slate at this time of year. But given that I don’t have a book of accounts to ceremonially start over, I thought that I would start with my life instead, giving it a little reboot this festive season. Out with the old, in with the new, that sort of thing. So, starting today, this is what I plan to do. If you want to join in, here is my master list.
• Actually scratch that. No more making endless lists of things that I never get around to doing (honestly, who was I kidding? I was never going to make it to the gym in the morning!). Instead, I will set myself one goal every month (or every couple of months). And if I don’t achieve it in that time frame, then I will strike it right off.
It’s like those clothes languishing in the back of your closet. If they haven’t seen the light of day in a year, they are likely to remain unworn forever. Just make your peace with it and chuck them out. Similarly, if you haven’t finished what you set out to do in a certain period of time, the likelihood is that it’s never going to happen. Move on.
• Do one new thing. And by new, I mean something that you have never tried before. Something that you never even thought of trying before. Something that is so out of your comfort zone that grown men laugh and children giggle when you say you intend to give it a go. Yes, that something new.
In my case, it’s going to be: learning how to play a musical instrument. No, I have no natural aptitude. And the odds are that I will suck at this no matter how hard I try. But even so, this should be fun; though perhaps, not so much for the folks next door (it goes without saying that in the interest of good neighbourly relations, I will steer clear of drums).
• Brush up old skills; yes, the ones you barely remember you possess. In my case, it’s going to be languages. Having invested several months to studying French and Italian many moons ago, I am rather shamed by the fact that I have forgotten as much as I ever learnt. It’s only when I am travelling in those parts that the cadences of those lost tongues evoke something lost in me, and the words come rushing back. In a day or two, I can make myself understood, but only at the cost of doing significant damage to the language in question. The Italians are sweet and indulgent about it; the French superior and scornful. But in both cases, it serves as an incentive to dust off those grammar books and watch a bit of Rai and TV5. Or maybe enroll in a refresher conversation course.
• Make new friends. I don’t know about you, but I find that the older I get, the harder I find it is to make new friends. There is none of the forced intimacy of schools, where you spend the best part of the day shut up in a room with a bunch of girls (or boys). The leisurely days of college when you could while away the afternoon just gossiping in the canteen are long gone. And new, corporate-style offices don’t encourage the matiness that the casual chaos of their earlier avatars did.
So, how is one supposed to make new friends? And more importantly, good friends? Okay, I concede that it’s not easy. And you will have to kiss a lot of frogs and frogesses before you find the real thing. But if you keep yourself open to the possibility of friendship, it can be quite amazing what you find out there. You might find a kindred spirit at the school gates as you drop off your daughter. You might bond with that over-muscled man at the gym (who you always thought was a bit of a freak). Or you might just meet a bunch of like-minded folk on social media (I know, I know, famous last words…). And no matter how things work out, you will have a few laughs along the way.
Meanwhile, there’s always Diwali to celebrate. Go on, light a diya and say a little prayer. And steer clear of firecrackers while you’re at it.