WHO WE’LL ROOT FOR
Yuki Bhambri: Grabbing the sports spotlight in the first months of
the new year, the young tennis star wowed the Melbourne crowds at the Australian Open when he took the junior’s singles title, the first Indian to ever do so. At only 16 years, and now the top-ranked junior player in the world, we’ll watch to see if his skills keep him in the game at the coming Grand Slam events.
JP Duminy: The 24-year-old South African batsman will be one of the most expensive talents up for grabs at the Indian Premier League auction this year. But to the victor will likely go the spoils: Duminy averaged 72 in his first two seasons and helped lead South Africa to its first win over Australia in 16 years.
WHAT TOPICS WE WANT TO READ ABOUT
The plight of the bar girls: Journalist Sonia Faleiro has penetrated the world of Mumbai’s infamous bar dancers to see how the ban on their livelihood has affected their already troubled and difficult lives.
Modern history: William Dalrymple focuses his academic eye on the present day in Nine Lives, his latest book on his adopted country. This time, he focuses on how the changing times have altered India’s religions.
HOW WE’LL VOTE
Free and fair: For the first time, the entire country will cast their vote electronically. Some 650 million voters will pick their favourite politicians via electronic voting machines. That means faster voting and fewer fake votes.
Influenced by the Internet: L.K. Advani posts to his blog; Omar Abdullah updates his Facebook account; and Jaagore.com, an online get-out-the-vote campaign, and Internet discussion groups spur the youth into action. With more broadband access, the country can log on and participate in the political process, now more than ever.
HOW WE’LL GO (OR NOT GO) GREEN
Water wars: Is the Australian summer a sign of things to come? The meteorological department recently said January was the warmest month ever in several parts of north India. Water will be worth its weight in gold this summer.
Sell our carbon credits: Thanks to an arrangement in the Kyoto Protocol, India can trade on its green schemes with worse polluters by selling credits to other nations for not ruining the environment with carbon emissions. This doesn’t save the ozone layer, but it does offer big bucks.
HOW WE’LL VIEW ART
Going public: With the success of the 48°C Public.Art.Ecology project
in Delhi, the Khoj International Artists Assoc-iation and free museums such as the Devi Art Foundation, art is no longer limited to the rarefied private gallery.
Tap into desi style: Everyone loves India these days. Including, finally, our own designers and artists. With the success of Subodh Gupta’s iconic Indian sculptures, Manish Arora’s kitsch designs and household products embracing the old styles in the new, expect desi art to be lifted into the hot objects of desire.
WHAT CARTOON HEROES WE’LL CHEER FOR
Struggling magicians: Sylvain Chomet, director of the critically acclaimed Triplets of Belleville, is back with another oddball animated film, titled The Illusionist, about a stage magician displaced from fame and fortune by the distractions of modern entertainment.
Crabby old men: Up, the new movie from the director of Monsters, Inc., features a 78-year-old protagonist who, threatened with the possibility of moving into an old-age home, teams up with an eight-year-old wilderness explorer to fly his house around the world, helped by many, many helium balloons.
With inputs by Sidin Vadukut and Krish Raghav.
HOW WE’LL GET AROUND
Subway satisfaction: The Delhi Metro has set the standard for efficient, clean travel, and has far bested the lame duck Bus Rapid Transit plan. Along with Delhi’s new routes opening this year, 26 other Indian cities have plans to install their own lines, including Chennai, Bangalore and Mumbai.
The people’s car: Tata’s much-touted Nano has so far irritated
more people than it has wowed—all before it has even made it to the street. Expect excitement and queues, but also plaintive cries and curses when the Nano finally hits the road.
WHO WE’LL BE DOWNLOADING LIKE MAD
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band: Coming off the high of Superbowl success and participating in creating a presidential dream, the resident rocker of the US plans to launch a much-awaited album, Working On a Dream. Expect hopeful, patriotic tunes, thanks to his penning the album while on the campaign trial for Barack Obama.
U2: After a very long four-year wait, Bono and his boys have finally put aside saving the world to release No Line on the Horizon. Though the first single hasn’t shaken the musical world to the core, expectations are still high for the hit makers’ album.
WHAT BOOKS WILL MAKE OUR AMAZON ORDER
The Vagrants: The debut novel from short story writer Yiyun Li weaves a story of hope from the tragic stories of counter revolutionists in Maoist China.
Where the Wild Things Are: Dave Eggers has undertaken the challenge of creating a novel out of the hugely successful children’s fantasy story by Maurice Sendak. It’s the tale every child loves: After being sent off to bed without any supper, Max runs away to rule over monsters. Let the wild rumpus start!
WHAT WE’LL BE WEARING
First Lady threads: She wears an outfit on television and the sales
skyrocket. The choice of her inaugural outfits put two relatively unknown designers in the international style spotlight. The world has found a new fashion icon in the US First Lady, Michelle Obama. Expect hordes of fashion followers to embrace her conservative-with-a-twist style.
Recession chic: Buying new threads seems a bit unfashionable against a backdrop of global financial meltdown. So expect reinvention of old styles to be the new style this year.
WHERE WE’LL TRAVEL
Croatia: With miles of untouched coastline and prices still far below its European neighbours, Croatia may be the perfect new Mediterranean escape.
Washington, DC: It’s a bright new political morning in the US capital, and everyone wants to visit Barack Obama’s new hometown. Long looked down on as just the misguided stepsister to its prettier older sister city New York, DC is now being touted as the new New York.
HOW WE’LL INVEST OUR MEAGRE SAVINGS
Give it to the government: After the crash and burn of Satyam, the stock market now seems a less than desirable investment option. Instead, investors will choose the staid security of the government; the slow and steady option will seem like an ideal way to win the race.
Stuff our beds with gold: In the grand traditions of our grandmothers, rather than fling them away in investments and entrepreneurial ventures, gold, real estate and commodities will be the ideal place to store our savings for a rainy day. Neighbourhood post offices have already sold at least 24,724 gold coins since October, and they will soon launch a Gold Accumulation Plan in association with the World Gold Council and Reliance Money.
WHAT GAMES WE’LL DOWNLOAD ON OUR IPHONE
Metal Gear Solid Touch: The iconic game series will be travelling
to the iPhone as a shooter, not “tactical espionage action”. Series mastermind Hideo Kojima calls it “a simple MGS” that people could play in trains and buses, and has promised downloadable content that extends the game’s story.
Crayon Physics Deluxe: Indie favourite Crayon Physics Deluxe is a perfect fit on the iPhone: a smooth, charming physics-based puzzler where you scribble and pastel-colour your way through more than 100 levels of increasing fiendishness.
WHAT TECHNOLOGY GIZMOS WE’LL HAVE TO BUY
Android: The new mobile operating system from Google, the Android is forecast to revolutionize the way we use our phones, from a storage device to video conferencing.
7-inch iPod Touch: With a screen the size of a small laptop, the new iPod Touch could do away with netbooks and make us all mobile computers.
WHAT BOLLYWOOD MOVIES WE’LL QUEUE UP TO WATCH
Delhi 6: Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra brings us back to the walled city of Old Delhi for another story about identity, religion, chaos and Chandni Chowk. After the success of Rang de Basanti, all eyes will be on Mehra.
Three Idiots: We’ll have to wait until December before Rajkumar Hirani brings Chetan Bhagat’s bestselling book Five Point Someone to the big screen. But a recent survey by Bollywood entertainment website Hungama.com had this as the No. 1 most anticipated film of the year.
WHAT US MOVIES WE’LL QUEUE UP TO WATCH
Star Trek: With a track record of sterling sci-fi hits and fantasy television series, J.J. Abrams seems the wisest choice to reinvent the longest running franchise in US history. But Star Trek cult followers may be in for a bit of a shock: Abrams always preferred Star Wars to Star Trek.
Terminator Salvation: They’ll be back. Only this time without Arnie. Christian Bale turns in his bat suit to battle robots as the leader of the human resistance, John Conner. The movie had an unexpected publicity bump when audio footage leaked of Bale swearing and threatening to leave the film when a director of photography distracted him during filming.
HOW WE’LL LIVE
Relish the discounts: From cheaper plane tickets to falling real estate prices, the economic downturn has a shiny upturn in a sales bonanza. We won’t stop buying, but we will turn into the crafty bargain hunter: sniffing out deals online to save cash and bypassing the latest model for the most reliable model.
Stay single: Thanks to job uncertainty and downsizing costs, our big, fat Indian weddings will be pushed off for a year or two. Young couples planning for that wedded bliss will opt to postpone their nuptials until their financial stability returns.
WHO WE’LL BE SINGING ALONG TO
AR Rahman: The golden boy looks well in line for at least one shiny Oscar for his Slumdog Millionaire work. But the hardest working man in Bollywood won’t let fame slow him down. We’re already dancing to his tunes from Delhi 6.
Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy: With a whole slew of likely successes in line for this year, the oft-successful musical trio has plenty of opportunities to make musical magic this year. My Name is Khan and Wake Up Sid are only two of their 11 announced movies this year.
WHERE WE’LL WORK
Find sanctuary in the government: With all the uncertainty in banks, thanks to the subprime mortgage scandals, and the havoc wreaked by private companies such as Satyam, young businessmen and women are rediscovering the public sector. Expect those government jobs to be the new business school prize.
Go back to school: Rather than hit the pavement in search of a new job,many of the recently unemployed will decide to ride the financial crisis from the safety of graduate schools. It makes sense to spend two years hitting the books, only to re-enter a recovering market with a new degree under your belt.