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That make-or-break time of the year

That make-or-break time of the year
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First Published: Thu, Jan 08 2009. 09 43 PM IST

Sweep along: A cleanliness drive at Sher-e-Punjab Colony, Andheri, Mumbai. Prasad Gori / Hindustan Times
Sweep along: A cleanliness drive at Sher-e-Punjab Colony, Andheri, Mumbai. Prasad Gori / Hindustan Times
Updated: Thu, Jan 08 2009. 09 43 PM IST
It has been 10 days since the start of the new year. Do you know where your resolutions are? Why do we make them? We rarely keep them, not most of us anyway. I think a New Year resolution is another expression of the power of human hope. It is built on the notion that this year—finally—we will tick off every item on life’s to-do list. This year, I’ll lose weight; I’ll bungee-jump and quilt. Some take the opposite approach. They disdain resolutions, at least openly. Ask them what they have resolved and they’ll say something like, “I don’t make resolutions; I keep them”. 
Sweep along: A cleanliness drive at Sher-e-Punjab Colony, Andheri, Mumbai. Prasad Gori / Hindustan Times
I am a resolver, not a keeper of resolutions. This year I did something different. I decided to do a survey of New Year resolutions. I would approach one person from each country and ask them what their resolution was. That was my grandiose plan anyway, and it fell short because of Turkey. I began with Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Prime Minister of Turkey. From an email supplied by a Turkish government website, I wrote to Señor Erdogan and asked him if he had made any resolutions for 2009. I never heard back. I decided to tone down my survey.
I contacted several people—acquaintances I knew professionally, a few friends and some people whom I had never met but interviewed on the phone—and asked them for their resolutions. Mostly, I was looking for variety: in geography, gender, nationality, career choice and inclination. I was also hoping that these ideas might help me craft my own resolutions more effectively. From the dozens of emails I received, here are some samples. Perhaps they’ll give you some ideas for your own New Year resolutions.
Stanley Pinto, bon vivant, Bangalore: “To savour every meal, every bottle of wine, every sweet kiss as if it may be my last. By the noises around us these days, who knows, they may be.”
 
Sabita Radhakrishna, crafts activist, Chennai: “To fight for a cleaner city, for who knows, I might trip and fall into the garbage myself!”
 
Raymond Lim, gastro-pundit, Singapore: “To collect as many Michelin stars as I can from my travels.”
 
Reboni Saha, industrial designer, Goa: “Get to know myself better. Be at peace, then spread that to others in my company.”
Urvashi Maiya Mani, painter, New Delhi: “Three resolutions interconnected—for me, my world and the world.  For me: Relinquish the title of ‘The Great Procrastinator’ although I am inclined to think about that one for a while. For my world: To listen to my husband’s sage advice on all things practical, however impractical that might be. For the world: Transcend hope—hope for change, better politicians, safer roads—into action. Somewhere along the way, I would like to breathe with awareness and paint fearlessly while figuring out what exactly multitasking is.”
 
Hasmukh Shah, freelance do-gooder, Vadodara: “To promote a company that manufactures backbones; to stay in hotels away from the coastal zone; and three, keep away from the dentist’s drill.”
Charlotte Clark, octogenarian, Boston: “I resolve to begin driving like a little old lady. Very cautiously.” 
Eric Savage, social entrepreneur, Bangalore: “Get in the best shape of my life at age 40 so I can beat my wife in tennis.  Help millions lift themselves out of poverty.” 
Matias Echanove, urbanologist, Mumbai: “2009 is the year of audacity. All things are possible if you are determined enough.” 
 
Anand Merchant, dental surgeon, Mumbai: “Due to the security lapses all over, I’d rather sleep with an AK-47 gun than with my wife. Unfortunately, I’d need government clearance to do so!”
Sunitha Kondur, architect, Bangalore: “It is for the first time in many, many years that a weight-loss target or a fund-savings plan seems so irrelevant as a New Year resolution. I have decided that educating children from a very young age on some very basics like saving natural resources, respecting and following rules and regulations, making community service an integral part of their lives and, most of all, preparing them to handle emergency situations will bring the long-term change that we need today. So this year, I have made a resolution to work with my child’s school on implementing programmes that make our children responsible citizens.”
  
Jayant Mammen Mathew, media professional, Kerala: “New Year resolutions are always fun to start with, and every year I think about them and forget them in a month. I think I have written them down only a couple of times so far. This would be the third time. My resolutions are simple and not fancy at all. Since they are achievable, I am sure to follow them for longer than before. This year, my resolutions are: to improve on my existing yoga asanas and also learn new asanas. To enjoy doing fun things with my children.”  
Wiki-how tells us that the key to successful New Year resolutions are to keep them simple and do-able. In other words, don’t resolve to “overhaul” your wardrobe when you don’t have time to shop for even one dress. Breaking up resolutions into components helps. The funniest resolution I read this year was shown to me by a friend’s son who goes to a super-achieving school for engineering geniuses; somewhat like our IITs. As I flipped through the high school “yearbook”, I saw pimply goggle-eyed engineering whiz-kids and self-described nerds, all of whom had one simple resolution for the year 2009: “Get laid.” 
What’s your New Year resolution? 
Write to Shoba at thegoodlife@livemint.com
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First Published: Thu, Jan 08 2009. 09 43 PM IST