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Journalist, Author, Columnist. My Twitter handle: @seemagoswami

Saturday, February 13, 2016

The year ahead

A quick look at the social trends that will come to define 2016

This week, I intend to stick my neck out and risk a task fraught with danger. I am going to look into my crystal ball and tell you what 2016 will bring. The danger, of course, is that I may well be completely wrong, and there will be much pointing and laughing around the same time next year. But what can I say? As far as I am concerned, this is the year of living dangerously. And as for the rest of the world, this is what (according to me, at least) it has to look forward to.

* A new sense of environmental consciousness: Not just because Delhi --always held up as an example of an uncaring, unfeeling city -- has shown intent by adopting the odd-even plan as its own in the hope of beating air pollution, but because across the world people are finally waking up to the dangers of climate change. While both Chennai and parts of England have had to cope with floods, winter seems to have gone missing in India. And the polar cap seems to be disappearing almost as fast as the snow from the ski slopes of Europe. This is the year, I believe, that citizens across the globe will begin to work on improving our environment, even if governments across the board continue to dither.

* The sharing economy will come of age: This will be, in part at least, a spin-off of our increased sense of environmental consciousness. But it will also owe something to an increasing desire to be less wasteful of our economic resources. So, while office-goers will increasingly opt for the car-pooling feature on such cab apps as Uber, more and more parents will decide to let their kids go to school in the school bus rather than dropping them off in their cars (thus doing their bit for air and traffic pollution as well).

* More people will decide to stay in rather than go out: This year will see the 'staycation' become more popular than ever. As air travel becomes more of a pain than a pleasure, with the torture beginning at the security queue and ending at the baggage carousel at the other end, the idea of vacationing in the city where you live will become more attractive. With the money you save on travel you can check into a swish hotel, enjoy the delights of room service, chill out at the pool and get your pampering at the spa. And those monuments you never got around to seeing because, you know, they are just around the corner from where you live, this would be the ideal time to schedule a visit.

* The home will emerge as a hub of entertainment: A rather natural corollary of the desire to 'stay in', rather than venture out in search of a good time. With TV screens getting bigger and better, and international TV shows like Homeland, Downton Abbey and The Newsroom being released almost at the same time as they are abroad, staying at home in the evening and channel surfing from the comfort of your couch will never seem more attractive. And if you do crave some company other than your family, if only to discuss the plot or even send out spoilers, well then, social media is only a couple of clicks away on your smartphone.

* The rise of binge watching: The DVD box-set had already changed the way we watch television. Instead of watching an episode every week, we now tend to wait until the series is released on DVD (or just download illegally from the Internet; naughty, naughty!) so that we can swallow it in one greedy mouthful. Now, with Netflix (and its culture of dumping entire seasons of its own shows like Grace And Frankie and Master Of None in one go) being launched in India, the propensity to binge-watch all our favourite shows will only increase. So, here's to all-nighters, as you take in the shenanigans on Game Of Thrones or House of Cards.

* The triumph of the home cook: Now that everyone is watching such food competitions as Masterchef and cookery shows like the ones hosted by the gorgeous Nigella Lawson, the kitchen no longer looks like the place where drudges go to steam in their own sweat. Instead, cooking has taken on a rather glamorous glow and everyone from the harried career woman to the overworked stay-at-home wife and mother to the man who couldn't do more than boil an egg wants to try her/his hand at rustling up an exotic, three-course meal. Of course, this is special occasion cooking, and all the more special for that.

So, there it is. My forecast for what 2016 will bring. And here's looking forward to bouquets/brickbats from all my gentle readers a year from now.

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