When the apocalypse arrives (well, let’s just play along anyway), what do you think will be flashing before your eyes? That killer PowerPoint presentation? Or the cake your six-year-old baked? Doomsday or not, a new year provides the perfect opportunity to reconnect with the family and create lasting memories. Take up a project that involves the whole family, the more extended the better. We suggest some fun ways to renew the bond
43. CAPTION THOSE PHOTOS
Nothing evokes quite so much emotion as flipping through old family albums. The physical turning of the fraying, yellowing, slightly musty pages parallels a journey in time and long-forgotten moments live fleetingly again. On long winter evenings or scorching summer ones, when venturing out of home seems like a punishment, gather the family around and sit down to sort and caption old photos together. Go back to the oldest photo you can find—perhaps that tinted, square one in which a dapper young man is standing next to a barely-visible-under-her-jewellery young woman, who you’re told are your grandparents; or of that picnic in Panchgani in 1987 where the whole clan had descended from every corner of the country. Watch the stories come tumbling forth as your mother introduces your son to the formidable aunt who had run away from home at 18 to meet Dilip Kumar.
Freeze time: A family portrait circa 1910 (Rex Photo Studio). Courtesy The Alkazi Collection of Photography
44. CREATE AN HEIRLOOM
Don’t have a precious ornament that your grandmother passed on to you, or a carpet that has been in the family for decades? You could create one.
Family heirlooms should ideally pass the test of time and are that much more valuable when they tell a story. Create a family heirloom along with the rest of your family in the coming year. Make a patchwork quilt or a sari that you might want to pass on to your daughter on her wedding day (or her graduation party). Pick designs that are contemporary and reflect the present time, with colours that you all like. Take bits of ideas from everybody for the project so it is truly a family effort.
45. BUILD A FAMILY TREE
You’ve got cousins in Bangkok and Boston, in Manchester and Mumbai and Mahabaleshwar. And while you dutifully swap New Year and Diwali greetings and mail each other wedding invitations, the extended family gets even more extended as you mix up who married who and who just had a boy.
Make it a family project to trace all the branches spread out over the globe. There are plenty of websites (such as Genealogy.com) that help build family trees. A more collaborative way of going about it is having your own website or a Facebook page to post photos, videos, make family plans and generally reconnect. Link it to the family tree and perhaps you’ll even find the uncle who had vanished in Myanmar after World War II.
46. VISIT A MUSEUM A MONTH
You now know your Amrita Sher-Gil from a Tyeb Mehta, but only enough to smile politely when around art-inclined friends. Contemporary art galleries have disenchanted you with their oh-so-cool stance. But your city museum, despite the bad shape it is in, is a treasure trove of historical art. And despite what you believe, the exhibits do change every few months.
Spectacle: A fibreglass statue of Kempe Gowda at the Kempe Gowda Memorial Museum in Bangalore. Aniruddha Chowdhury/Mint
If you’re in Mumbai, make a monthly trip, family in tow, to art spots such as the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, the recently renovated Dr Bhau Daji Lad and the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA). In Delhi, you have the National Museum and the larger NGMA; in Kolkata, visit the Indian Museum, India’s largest museum and the ninth oldest in the world.
47. STRING A FAMILY BAND
You sacrificed your dream of being a rock star at the altar of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) admission. But now that you are finally the master (or mistress) of your own fate, why not have that band you always meant to set up? And before you object that this would eat into family time, we suggest you begin scouting for band-mates within the family—that uncle who could play a mean riff, or the nephew who drives his mother nuts with his drum practice. Get them together for jam sessions. Offer to play at your next office party. If nothing, you can definitely wriggle centre stage at the next wedding in the family. Or better still, compose your own soundtrack for a YouTube release. There are countless audio-editing software available online, free as well as paid, such as FL Studio, Cool Edit Pro, Sound Forge, etc.