The last days of December are the best days of the year. For most of us, it is the time to do all the things that we shouldn’t be doing, like partying, eating excessively and skipping exercise altogether. After all, we’re going to be turning a new leaf come the new year, right?
No matter which day of the week New Year’s Day falls on, it feels like a Monday. Or, worse, a working Sunday. This time too, my mind was filled with the burden of my resolutions. “You’d better shape up, you promised,” threatened my Conscience. For most of us who blithely, resolutely, concoct our resolutions, in the serene confidence that Jan 1st would never come, we are now peering blearily at the dreariness of our good intentions. But I was resolved to make good on my own promises to make a better me in 2013.
Licensed, so to speak, to partake of pleasure in the last few days of the year, I spent a sybaritic week indulging to the best of my ability and then New Year’s Day dawned beautiful, bright and sunny. Well, actually, it dawned cloudy and gloomy. A sunny day can at least get you out of bed, but a cloudy day, when it is bliss to bury yourself under the blankets, come on, where’s the fairness in that? Still, I dragged myself out of bed, bared my teeth at the family, wishing them a happy New Year with determined cheer, since one of my resolutions was to be nice to them.
Exercising and writing in my daily journal were two more of my resolutions, and I managed to do both of them to some extent for the first three days, purely because of circumstances.
We were on our little coffee estate in Coorg, where I had no domestic help, so I had to sweep the house; that took care of the exercise. There was nothing else to do all day except look out and dream; four sentences in the journal was all it took. Piece of cake.
Which brought me to my next resolution, which was to stick to a low-fat, low-calorie diet. Being on the estate meant everything had to be brought in, so perforce, I didn’t have too many chances to break my diet.
The fourth day, we got back to our home in Mysore … and I zoomed back to last year’s final days. Resolutions … what resolutions? I stayed up too late watching a movie on TV, which of course meant snacks, and then overslept the next day. I felt rotten and snapped at the kids, I didn’t exercise, and I was performing so badly so why would I want to record it in my journal? All my good intentions went to hell in a hand-basket in one lousy day.
Remorse swiftly followed. Remorse is cheap and satisfying for the moment, while it really does nothing useful, like a rubber-necker at an accident site. “How could I break my resolutions so soon?” I wailed silently as I idly surfed the internet (another resolution no-no). And now I had to wait for another 350 odd days before I got on the wagon again!
A news snippet caught my eye. People belonging to the Russian Orthodox Church were celebrating their Christmas not on the 25th of December, 2012, but on Jan 7, 2013. Their New Year’s day was therefore 13 January, 2013. I brightened. This meant I had another chance to restart my resolutions: on Jan. 13. Though the date was coming up fast, I resolved that that would be the day.
It was … of Sankaranthi. The festival of Makar Sankaranthi or Pongal fell on that day, a Sunday, which was taken up with cooking special festival food and eating it. A wasted opportunity.
Now, I began to search the internet feverishly, for if I missed the Russian Orthodox Church’s New Year, I could fall back upon the Chinese New Year: February 10th. My not being Chinese was immaterial since everything I own is a cheap Chinese knockoff anyway, and therefore I live Chinese.
But I had reckoned without that great monster that lurks in school calendars, the Test. My ten- and fourteen-year-olds had to study for some critical tests that week, and I was having the usual test terrors. It is funny how I never cared so much about tests and finals when I myself was taking them. But now that it is my children’s turn, I feel terrified each time one of those dratted examinations show up on the calendar. When we returned to India, I swore I wouldn’t obsess about my children’s school work, but parental peer pressure makes you think that if you aren’t having a nervous breakdown about your kids’ education, you’re just a bad mom. Even so, I wasn’t doing too badly, until we were at the school bus stop on the morning of February 10th.
“Well, I hope you’re prepared,” I remarked generally.
Which was when my ten-year-old said, “Actually, I don’t have the text book or the notes for today’s test.”
I lost a year’s growth when I stared at her in horror. “But you … studied! I saw you!” I stammered.
“I studied for the next exam,” she said calmly. “I knew you’d lose it, so I didn’t tell you. Anyway, not to worry. I have an hour on the school bus till I get to school, I’ll study then.” (Statutory warning: This has been performed by an expert. Please do not practice this at home.)
It took the rest of the day, until she came back and announced her results, for my poor heart to get back anywhere near normal. New Year’s resolutions? Huh, I needed a week’s R&R.
But eventually, I got over my panic attack, and went back to the internet, and that was when things got really interesting. I was thrilled to find out that Nowruz, the Persian New Year, happens on March 20th. I could start then, couldn’t I?
Now, I’m resolved: I am going to start my New Year’s resolutions on March 20th. But this time, I’m also going to make sure that I have a fallback plan. If I do happen to mess up on Nowruz, a slew of New Years’ are coming up in April 2013. April 11 happens to be Telugu/Kannada New Year or Ugadi. Unfortunately, Gudi Padwa, celebrated in Maharashtra and Rajasthan is also celebrated on the same day, but then, you’ve to take some roughs with the smooth.
Three days later, the Punjabis celebrate Baishakhi, the Tamilians celebrate their New Year, and Malayalis celebrate Vishu, on April 14th.
The next day, Bengalis celebrate Pohela Boishakh, on April 15. I can get my act straight by then, I know. If not, mercifully, there is always Navroz, the Parsi New Year on the 20th of August.
But what if?
Well, I’ve got that covered too. If I don’t get working on my resolutions by August 20, I swear on my favorite snack, potato chips, that I will get started on Gujarati New Year’s Day, I guarantee. It is on Gowardhan Puja Day, the day after Diwali. Date: Nov. 4, 2013.
If I cannot begin to keep my New Year’s resolutions even by Nov. 4, I resolve to start keeping them come the International New Year’s Day: Jan. 1, 2014.
Lakshmi Palecanda moved from Montana to Mysore and is still adjusting. She can be reached at [email protected]