Manoj Madhavan/Mint

Manoj Madhavan/Mint

Take up a project, make a memory

Take up a project, make a memory


The apocryphal story goes that the British were trying to discover Chittagong when a storm caused them to stumble on the upriver settlement which would go on to become Calcutta.

The Indian coastline: You just never know what it’s going to throw at you.

Manoj Madhavan/Mint

Hiking down the Gujarat coast, scuba-diving off Mangalore, floating in and out of the Kerala backwaters—those are the most likely things you’ll do on the western seaboard. On the east, there are the Andamans, Tranquebar, the Olive Ridley turtles of Puri beach, the Sundarbans: Even the most predictable sights are breathtaking. For millennia, the coasts have been a way for curious outsiders to discover India, and that’s exactly why landlubbers should explore them too.

We are talking of a distance of more than 7,500km, so it’s unlikely you’ll have the time to do it all in one go. Break up the trips into convenient vacations, and choose your destinations based on the climate (it’s not all sun and sand, after all) and your mood. If the Romans brought their triremes all the way to Malabar, surely it can’t be that hard to hop on a chosen mode of transport and cruise down.






You always enjoy the things you make. And if that thing happens to be a board game, then you can enjoy it with friends as well. The only drawback is that making a fresh and innovative board game from the ground up is hard (that’s why they have awards for best designers).

• Change the layout of the board. Set it up in a hexagon, and see how that works.

• Change the way some pieces move. Give every piece an alternative “action"—let the pawns defend, allow the knights to charge straight through enemies, give the rook an artillery attack.

• Change the objective of the game. Maybe the winner is the person who gets three pawns to the other end first. Or maybe the queen is the object, not the king. That’s going to force you to play differently.

At this point, you might have reached a very different sort of game, and might want to customize the look of the pieces. Again, borrowing from something that already exists is a good way to start, until you come up with something that really speaks to you. Maybe people the board with GI Joes and Cobras. And then take a printout and paste it over cardboard.

Once you’ve refined your ideas and play-tested them, you can get them fabricated via a number of awesome sites such as and—they even help you design a box for the game!



Even if the hysteria surrounding the Mayan calendar sounds like balderdash to you, take time out to explore the apocalyptic visions as realized in cinema. Look beyond the frenetic spectacles usually served by Hollywood. A few picks for the apocalyptic films you shouldn’t miss: Time of the Wolf (directed by Michael Haneke, 2003), Dawn of the Dead (George Romero, 1978), La Jetée (Chris Marker, 1962), Children of Men (Alfonso Cuarón, 2006), Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (Hayao Miyazaki, 1984), Wall-E (Andrew Stanton, 2008), 28 Days Later (Danny Boyle, 2002), Delicatessen (Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro, 1991) and The Road (John Hillcoat, 2009).

• The Films of Sergei Paradjanov: A DVD set comprising four films by Sergei Paradjanov (Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors, The Color of Pomegranates, Ashik Kerib and The Legend of Suram Fortress) from Kino Video, $43.49 (around 2,300) on

• The Béla Tarr Collection: Three films by Béla Tarr (Damnation, Werckmeister Harmonies and The Man from London) on DVD, from Artificial Eye, £24.99 (around 2,100) on

• By Brakhage: An Anthology, Volumes One and Two: A Blu-Ray DVD set comprising films by Stan Brakhage, from The Criterion Collection, $55.49 on

• La Jetée/Sans Soleil: A DVD set comprising two films by Chris Marker (La Jetée and Sans Soleil), from The Criterion Collection, $24.24 on



If you think anyone trying to understand Bollywood should see all of Manmohan Desai’s films, then you’ll know the wonder of Tsui instantly. His output is vast, and should keep you going through 2012. Our picks, available to borrow from DVD libraries and buy at select bookstores and music stores in Delhi and Mumbai:

• Once Upon a Time in China (with four bonus sequels) (1991)

• l The Master (1989)

• Peking Opera Blues (1986)

• Ching Se (also called Green Snake) (1993)

• Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame (2010)



Start a 3,000-piece jigsaw with your partner or child, of something you both love (it could be a Twilight poster, we’re not judging). When you’re done—after poring over it for months—it’s something you’ll remember having done in 2012 together. Have it framed!

German puzzle maker Ravensburger ( is the gold standard for intricate puzzles that go from African jungle scenes to mind-boggling world maps.

If you’re feeling fancy, have someone bring down a Stave puzzle from the US (—this puzzle-maker has garnered a lofty reputation for their intricate, handcrafted and sometimes maddening hand-cut wooden puzzles. The Smithsonian magazine has called them the “Rolls-Royce of Puzzles", and they don’t come cheap, starting at $275 (around 14,500) and going up to $3,000. Their 8ft-long masterpiece for $15,000 made the Guinness World Records as the world’s priciest puzzle in 1990. They even custom-make puzzles from photographs.



Get hold of a beginner’s knitting guide and start on a scarf this January. Your loops might be awry, but work through it over the year—while you travel or lounge— and you’ll have a semblance of a scarf (notice we aren’t saying sweater) by next winter.

Your local bookshop or will have a host of such guides. The Knitter’s Bible: The Complete Handbook for Creative Knitters (Claire Crompton) and Knitty Gritty: Knitting for the Absolute Beginner (Aneeta Patel) are good starting points.



The simple act of exploring the game world—its developers have described it as being roughly the same size as the UK—is rewarding in itself, but the rich lore that the creators have built in adds even more value when you start delving into the history of the virtual world.

Players who get immersed in the game could take time to build virtual libraries, buying and trading rare books, or perhaps become master blacksmiths or, of course, since it’s a fantasy game, dragon hunters.

Skyrimis available on the PC, Xbox 360 and PS3 platforms, and you can buy it from shops that sell video games, or get it online via Flipkart or eBay.



Start the New Year with Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time. The seven volumes, which span more than 3,000 pages, are sure to influence you deeply.

The six-pack, boxed set of the Modern Library edition, translated by C.K. Scott Moncrief and Terence Kilmarti, and revised by D.J. Enright, is available at for $60.42 (around 3,200). A new edition by Penguin has Proust’s novel translated by seven different people. The first, Swann’s Way, translated by short story writer Lydia Davis, is recommended.




Keep a few still photographs, some clips from other films, maybe a shortlist of animation sequences and music clips ready for use in your final edit. It might be a good idea to hire an editing suite and a professional editor (in Mumbai, you can hire a studio and an editor at 500 per hour) to help you piece the film together.