Call me old but, I have no shame in saying so. I have made no plans for this New Year’s eve. I have rejected and cancelled a few. But on two days in a year, some people need to be left to their own devices – birthdays and New Year’s eve. Here are a few reasons why I have chosen to do so…

The mad rush on the road: everyone is out driving. The pollution, chaos, bevy of cars is too passé. What is the inspiration behind being on the road; is it the honking, the screaming? It could be happiness for some, but it is an induced one.

Loud music and drunkenness: Clubbing, pubbing, partying? Too formula-driven. All motion, no emotion. I have stopped finding novelty in it any more. It is also is in direct contradiction to one the resolutions that I am going to take this weekend – never to do anything twice. Life is too precious to live on the repeat mode.

Prices: Everything is overpriced and and each place is overcrowded. Then there is the mad scramble to reach that place. Once there, there is the struggle to stay there, at an exponentially high cost.

Responding to New Year wishes: I have realized that they are just forwards- impersonal and thoughtless. I want to connect with every wish that I send out. Mean it. That again, cannot be done with a hangover. My second resolution for 2016 is to write more. The more letters, the better. As a generation of over-communicated individuals, we need to connect more.

The inevitable year-end existential reflections: They need time and mind-space. Reflections need still water. You only get to see them when you are not breathing fast and are holding still. The desire to be able to do that is innate with things coming to an end and with new beginnings.

Peace: Too much has been lost this year; lives, peace and precious time. I wanted to think of the people who will not see the sunrise in 2016.

I want to go with my parents, sit at some vantage point in my hometown and herald in the New Year. Too lame? I think it’s awesome, to be aware of time as it passes – slow and gradual. Isn’t that how life is meant to be lived?

May you have a year, the one that you choose to make it. A very loving 2016 to you all.

DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.

December 30, 2015, 9:05 pm IST

Ajita Chowhan
(Still looking at the world with a childlike wonder and learning to live life while she scuba dives, learns Kathak, runs a marathon, meditates, hikes, over-drinks green tea, red wine and black coffee. Either perennially travelling or dreaming of one. Loves everything that even remotely relates to travel – books, people, food, airports, hopping flights, culture, faces, packing, unpacking, languages and landscapes. With a never ending bucket list, a small town girl, eagerly looking forward to visiting her 27th country soon.)

Originally at


How To Live & Die


I’ve often thought about what it is that makes people happy—what one has to do in order to achieve happiness.

1- First and foremost is good health. If you do not enjoy good health, you can never be happy. Any ailment, however trivial, will deduct something from your happiness.

2- Second, a healthy bank balance. It need not run into crores, but it should be enough to provide for comforts, and there should be something to spare for recreation—eating out, going to the movies, travel and holidays in the hills or by the sea. Shortage of money can be demoralising. Living on credit or borrowing is demeaning and lowers one in one’s own eyes.

3- Third, your own home. Rented places can never give you the comfort or security of a home that is yours for keeps. If it has garden space, all the better. Plant your own trees and flowers, see them grow and blossom, and cultivate a sense of kinship with them.

4- Fourth, an understanding companion, be it your spouse or a friend. If you have too many misunderstandings, it robs you of your peace of mind. It is better to be divorced than to be quarrelling all the time.

5- Fifth, stop envying those who have done better than you in life—risen higher, made more money, or earned more fame. Envy can be corroding; avoid comparing yourself with others.

6- Sixth, do not allow people to descend on you for gossip. By the time you get rid of them, you will feel exhausted and poisoned by their gossip-mongering.

7- Seventh, cultivate a hobby or two that will fulfill you—gardening, reading, writing, painting, playing or listening to music. Going to clubs or parties to get free drinks, or to meet celebrities, is a criminal waste of time. It’s important to concentrate on something that keeps you occupied meaningfully.

8- Eighth, every morning and evening devote 15 minutes to introspection. In the mornings, 10 minutes should be spent in keeping the mind absolutely still, and five listing the things you have to do that day. In the evenings, five minutes should be set aside to keep the mind still and 10 to go over the tasks you had intended to do.

9- Ninth, don’t lose your temper. Try not to be short-tempered, or vengeful. Even when a friend has been rude, just move on.

10- Above all, when the time comes to go, one should go like a Person without any regret or grievance against anyone.

– Khushwant Singh

Flat Stomach

Developing a lean, flat stomach takes time and patience, especially when it comes to those last few kilograms in those hard to lose places. There is only one way to lose fat in the so-called ‘stubborn areas,’ and that is with the correct combination strength training (with a extra focus on mid-section), cardiovascular exercise (short, hard workouts), and stable blood sugar (keeps you from adding additional fat and makes it easier for the body to use body fat for fuel).

Spot Reduction is a Myth – The first thing you need to realize is that it is impossible to ‘spot reduce’ fat from one specific part of the body. Fat loss occurs systemically, meaning that you can’t control where the fat comes from. When you burn fat for energy, you will draw it from all areas of the body, and the first place you tend to put it on will be the last place it comes off.

Cardio, cardio, cardio – Doing all the abs exercises in the world will do nothing if you have a layer of fat covering it. Doing strength training, or lifting weights, would help, but not as much as aerobic exercise. If you want to add some ab exercises in after the cardio, that’s great, but be sure to work your whole torso, not just the upper abs — that includes the lower abs, lower back and the muscles that wrap around your sides.
For example, walking, jogging, bicycling, elliptical exercise and stair climbing are all great fat burners. Most give up early in the workout. During the first 10 minutes of aerobic activity, glycogen (stored carbohydrates) is the primary fuel source. Because you don’t burn significant amounts of fat until glycogen stores are depleted, the key to maximum fat loss is to work out aerobically for 30-60 minutes continuously per session.

Diet – Its best to stay away from fried food and too many sugary desserts. Abdominal fat loss is a 50% exercise, 50% nutrition combination. Regardless of how much you workout, if the number of calories you take in is greater than the amount you burn, you’ll still put on abdominal fat.

Eat Small Meals Regularly – You should try and spread your calories out into five small meals a day instead of 2 or 3 big ones so that you don’t overeat in one feeding.

Give it Time – If you want to have a flat stomach in 3 weeks, forget it. Losing fat takes time, and it’s unhealthy to lose too much weight too fast. Gradual weight loss is healthier, and more likely to be sustained over time. Go for a lifestyle change, something you can live with for the rest of your life, or you will just yo-yo. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

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