So 2016 has come and gone, and 2017 is here. I started of the year with two major resolutions, and I chose them to be specifically centered around two things I enjoy doing : reading and watching movies. I set myself what I thought then were reasonable targets – a movie every week and a book every two weeks. So that should make it 52 movies a year and 26 books. Looks manageable when you view it from the vantage point of early January.
Somewhere around the line, the one book every two weeks became two books every month – so shifting the goalposts from 26 to 24. In my defense, this was done in the middle of the year around June and not at the fag end to meet the end-of-years targets like conniving sales managers have shown the way in doing. Eventually, I huffed and puffed and made it past the finishing line on the last day thanks to some careful planning. I’d bought an Agatha Christie I’d been aching to re-read much earlier in the year, but I’d cleverly kept it aside for a ‘low-hanging-fruit’ to be used for a late win. I think I was at 19 books (completed) around 17th December, after which I had this glorious idea to pick up the largest behemoth of a book I’ve read all year – William Dalrymple’s The Last Mughal. Fortunately, I was on vacation where I had enough time to eke out to read it over the course of maybe a week. The last 4 days were finishing three other large tomes which were lying half-red after which I dashed through the morning of the 31st of December with ‘And Then There Were None’. After this I spent the rest of the day polishing off whatever I needed to from ‘A Clutch of Indian Masterpieces’ from David Davidhar (making adjustments for the fact that I had read almost half of Business Adventures, a tremendously textbookish work which balanced against the four or five short stories from David Davidhar’s anthology). So yes, such wow. Much relief.
I’d actually anticipated watching this many movies may not be all that difficult if I adjust for any TV Series I watch, considering proportional time. I lost count somewhere down the road, hopefully I can set that straight – but I probably ended up with somewhere around 25. And, I only watched the Game of Thrones season for the year over 2016, in addition to a few episodes of The Crown on the 31st of December. So no, even counting those – I wouldn’t have gotten even close. I was determined to not add any TV movies unless I watched them end to end, I can only recall Date Movie sometime early in the year and Ted2 somewhere in the monsoons. So this was a massive misjudgement, in many ways.
I think my calculation would have been that I watch a movie at least every alternate week in the multiplex nearby, so that’s 26 – I’d have expected to do a few movie marathons and then maybe add the time for TV series. Should be close to that magic number. I realise now I severely overestimated the number of movies I watch in a cinema hall – the figure over the course of the year is probably closer to 15 to 18 if I had to hazard a guess. I could probably have watched some more, but some weekends there wasn’t anything half-decent to watch, on others there were other commitments. And you spend a surprising number of weekends travelling every year I’ve realised (this number has probably increased). I’m glad I realised somewhere two-thirds of the way down the line that this target wasn’t going to be met and I didn’t push myself to watch crap and achieve it. A gracious defeat is how I look at it in my mind.
Of course, one of the other reasons to do this was to write more often. Under pressure with other pursuits, the writing’s been sidelined and postponed. But I do hope to write about as many I can – at least the books over the next few weeks while the memories are still fresh.
What did I take away from this (especially the reading one)? That even for something you think you love, you have to bend your back and dedicate time to it. That there are a million distractions, and you must be able to shut them out to achieve them. That writing reviews/expressing thoughts isn’t as easy as it seems. And finally, there’s a sense of achievement at the attaining of a target – I think I’ve proved my point to myself, that this is something I could achieve. Having said that, I’m not pulling this stunt again for the next year (or doing it with a lower target such as 12 books) for a few reasons : firstly, it takes away the ‘take-away’ or joy of reading once you have to speed-read. Secondly, it takes a lot of compromise – and maybe there are other things I should pursue for a year now and visit this experiment in 2021.