Archive for the ‘Me’ Category

Bookworms’ colourful exploits, in and out of books (Column: Bookends XCVI)


Bookworm is a common, mildly pejorative, term for avid readers with tacit implication that they are unlikely to do well in practical, physical situations (contemporary, more colourful, vocabulary would say geeks, nerds or wimps). But as there are no organisms like bookworms (the various insects attacking books are actually two species of beetles – a louse and a moth), people so labelled, whether real or fictional, are scarcely inert or passive figures they are usually depicted or perceived as.

The reason may be unfathomable, but giving lie to the perception is a wide spectrum of active and courageous ‘bookworms’. From popular culture across various media, there is a studious student witch, a globe-trotting archaeologist, a wizard sent to Middle-Earth to help defeat a tyrant, a historian who foils assassination of the Prince and Princess of Wales, arranges a Soviet nuclear submarine’s defection, and eventually becomes US president , an academician-cum-‘vampire hunter’, a small-town bespectacled lawyer who exhibits great moral strength among others.

But if Hermione Granger from the “Harry Potter” series, Dr. Henry Walton “Indiana” Jones Jr., Gandalf from the “Lord of Rings”, Jack Ryan in Tom Clancy’s techo-thrillers, Abraham Van Helsing in Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” and Atticus Finch from Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” – disregard the older draft published this year – can be dismissed as imaginary, then what about real life cases?

How about a US president who read at least a book a day (usually before breakfast) and wrote many himself, hunted, boxed; a septuagenarian philosopher who stood up to Mike Tyson to save a woman from rape; the children’s author who at a day’s notice managed to round up all enemy nationals in an African town when World War-II began, became a flying ace and helped invent a medical device that helped countless children; the archaeologist who sparked off a successful revolt; the college professor who may have changed a key American Civil War battle’s outcome, and a Marxist theorist who also proved to be a skilled military organiser and commander.

Any of them familiar?

The US president was Theodore Roosevelt of whom it will suffice to say he managed to combine six adventurous lifetimes in his six decades, the philosopher was Sir Alfred Jules (or A.J.) Ayer, the author was Roald Dahl, known among others for “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” (1964), the archaeologist was T.E. Lawrence who detailed his adventures in “Seven Pillars of Wisdom” (1922), the professor was Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, hero of Little Round Top during the Battle of Gettysburg (1863) and the Communist Lev Davidovich Bronstein or Leo Trotsky (one oblique representation was Snowball in George Orwell’s “Animal Farm”). Marxist poster icon Che Guevara was also quite a prolific literary and philosophical commentator.

It is the case of Ayer that warrants sharing as it may not be that well-known.

“At a party that same year (1987) held by fashion designer Fernando Sanchez, Ayer, then 77, confronted Mike Tyson who was forcing himself upon the (then) little-known model Naomi Campbell. When Ayer demanded that Tyson stop, the boxer said: ‘Do you know who the f*** I am? I’m the heavyweight champion of the world,’ to which Ayer replied: ‘And I am the former Wykeham Professor of Logic. We are both pre-eminent in our field. I suggest that we talk about this like rational men.’ Ayer and Tyson then began to talk, while Naomi Campbell slipped out.” (in “A.J. Ayer: A Life”, 1999, by Ben Rogers). Ayer had also served as a secret agent in the Second World War.

Men of science were no less active. Leading theoretical physicist and Nobel winner Niels Bohr was a keen footballer and known for always taking two stairs at once even in old age. Though he appears in science fiction writer Poul Anderson’s “Three Hearts and Three Lions”, he is actually the model for the real hero – a big burly football-playing Danish university graduate, who is thrown across dimensions into the medieval age in a parallel Earth, and uses his scientific skills to know how to kill dragons.

Elsewhere in fiction, several iconic characters are bookworms – detectives like Sherlock Holmes and Dorothy L. Sayers’ Lord Peter Wimsey, who seems an effete aristocrat but is extremely knowledgeable, a decorated war veteran, and judo expert, C.S. Forester’s Horatio Hornblower, who becomes a great sailor by his maths and research skills, Aramis from “The Three Musketeers”, who hankers to be a priest and begins a thesis on the hand positions used for ritual church blessings – despite being a womaniser and elite soldier.

Then CIA researcher Ronald Malcolm beats trained agents at their game in James Grady’s “Six Days of the Condor” (Joe Turner in film adaptation “Three Days of the Condor”), and Rafale Sabatini’s “Scaramouche” is French Revolution-era lawyer Andre-Louis Moreau who becomes an expert swordsman from studying fencing theory in books.

So next time you see someone buried in a book, resist making a snide remark!

(13.12.2015 – Vikas Datta is an Associate Editor at IANS. The views expressed are personal. He can be contacted at )


Humour of everyday life: The art of Jerome K. Jerome (Column: Bookends LV)

By Vikas Datta (10:32) 

Many enduring human achievements are ventures which did not turn out as planned and literature is no exception. A newly-married, not very established author, spending his honeymoon boating on the Thames, started to write a serious travel guide but ended up with a comic novel due to his matchless ability for rib-tickling presentation of everyday events and people (including relatives). It may not have been the genre’s first but is the most enduring, having never gone out of print or popularity for over 125 years while flagging off a glorious parade of English authors skilled at evoking humour out of the commonplace.

Jerome K. Jerome’s “Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog)” (1889) is his account of a boating trip from Kingston to Oxford. The author, who appears as J. the narrator, however replaced his wife with two real-life friends “George” or George Wingrave (then a junior bank employee) and “Harris” or Carl Hentschel (who ran a printing business). Fox-terrier “Montmorency” was fictional but included on the belief that the inner consciousness of a typical Englishman of the time included a dog.

Though it has quite a bit of sentimental, even tragic, parts verging on purple prose, they are however overshadowed by the humorous set pieces which start right from the first paragraph where the three protagonists complain of their imagined medical maladies and the need for a relaxing holiday.

This over-the-top display of hypochondria, especially the morbid self-diagnosis of the author, who “never read a patent medicine advertisement without being impelled to the conclusion that I am suffering from the particular disease therein dealt with in its most virulent form” sets the stage for some of the most uproariously funny passages ever seen in English literature.

His purpose is aided by skillful and adroit employment of a whole array of literary devices including outrageous hyperbole, vivid metaphors, comic exaggeration – but in an understated, self-deprecating, deadpan way (the hallmark of what is thought as British humour).

Different readers may have their own favourites – and have a wide selection to choose from – but some that will definitely figure are the trip’s planning which leads to the recollection of an uncle famed for raising a fuss for the simplest chore (immortalised in countless anthologies as “Uncle Podger Hangs a Picture”), the inescapable aroma of ripe cheese, the unreliability of weather forecasts, Harris’ adventures in a maze, his skill (or lack thereof) in singing comic songs, the German music professor’s performance, the two drunken men who slide into the same bed in the dark, the difficulties while learning to play bagpipes, the many claims for a particular fine specimen of trout (also much anthologised as “A Fishy Tale”) and many more.

Jerome also went on to write a sequel, which sees the friends (save the still unmarried George) contrive to leave spouses and children for a relaxing cycling trip through the Black Forest in then Imperial Germany and parts of the contiguous Austro-Hungarian Empire.

“Three Men on the Bummel” (1900), though lesser-known and starting slowly, is however as good as its predecessor and maintains most of its freshness, even in the comic stereotyping of the German character (particularly their fetish for order, discipline and cleanliness) and the practice of cycling.

Its high points include George’s experiment with a book of tourist phrases – “its longest chapter being devoted to conversation in a railway carriage, among, apparently, a compartment load of quarrelsome and ill-mannered lunatics” and what happens when they are used at a bootmaker’s, at a hat shop and with a carriage driver.

Then there is the adventure of Harris and his wife on the tandem, Harris confronting the hose-pipe, the animal riot in the hill-top restaurant and the plan in Prague to wean George of the local beer. And, yes, Uncle Podger appears twice – to share his advice on packing and then among employees leaving their suburban homes for their offices.

“Three Men on the Boat” at first did not meet a favourable critical reception when it first appeared (sneered as vulgar for using slang), but it went on to sell in huge numbers – a million copies worldwide in the first 20 years – and the astonished publisher told a friend: “I cannot imagine what becomes of all the copies of that book I issue. I often think the public must eat them.” (Jerome’s afterward in a later edition). And pirated copies sold another million in the US!

Whats more, both works went on to serve as English textbooks – in Russia and Germany respectively, while some selections serve as models of prose in textbooks around the English-speaking world. As an example of English’s capability for humour, both are unsurpassed!

(01.03.2015 – Vikas Datta is an Associate Editor at IANS. The views expressed are personal. He can be contacted at )

The Most Solemn Resolutions for 2013

Making resolutions for the orderly conduct of life is a mark of us few of wisdom and discernment. They may not survive the first contact with a most capricious and uncertain life but that is certainly no reason to stop planning.

I have already written about the 2012 resolutions and how they fared but that is all gone now…  now it is time to make the ones for 2013 too, and strive to solemnly implement them to the best of my ability.

Here goes…

#1 Read as many books as I can… and if I can achieve the target of 999 that I aspired to in 2012, it will be worth it.

#2 As part of #1, strive to finish all the available parts of the various exemplary series I am reading – Michael Pearce’s Mamur Zapt series,  James R Benn’s Billy Boyle series, Michael Genelin’s Commander Jana Matinova series, Barbara Cleverly’s Joe Sandilands series, Barbara Nadel’s Cetin Ikmen + Mehmet Suleyman series, Henry Chang’s D I Jack Yu series, the next installments in Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next series, Amdrea Camilleri’s Inspector Montalbano series, David Downing’s ‘Stations’ series and all other such as may come to notice…

#3 Pay more attention to my blog, strive for one post a day, aim to reach 1000 posts as soon as possible.

#4 Make all efforts to become a Badass Moustache With Mangst, a Deadpan Snarker, The Snark Knight in Sour Armour, the Tower, a Renaissance Polymath, a Seeker (Combined Archtypes), the Mysterious Watcher, a Grant/TR-Style Determinator, a Bunny-Ears Lawyer (to some extent) and all other tropes as may seem appropriate…

#5  Keep up the efforts to acquaint the world with the glories of Urdu adab, Dabistan-e-Lakhnau aur baqi sab maamle jo in se vabasta ho.

#6 Strive to maintain the quality of language in both English (Toff-level) and Urdu and become a high-level Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness Practioner.

#7 Try as much to stop being an Unfortunate Lancer, a Dogged Nice Guy, a DCA Addict, a Hikikomori, a Leeroy Jenkins, a Martyr Without Cause or any such kind, even a Yandere.

#8  Keep up – the extent possible – the noble activity of trope-spotting and slotting, and even creation.

#9 Read as much as possible about my heroes – U S Grant, Sherman, Phil Sheridan, Baron Mannerheim, and tell the unknowing world about them.

#10 Keep all efforts to maintain fiscal prudence…. Kampani kabhi khasaare mein nahi jaani chahiye…

#11 Make all necessary attempts to be able to sing Alfred P Doolittle’s signature song this year… If nothing else works out, work on achieving Abstract Apotheosis status

#12 Write a book or two.

#13 Learn at least two new languages, and polish up command of at least two existing ones….

And that is it….

Goodbye 2012….

Time, a useful fiction to explain why everything doesn’t happen all at once. Or maybe we’re the fiction, moving minute by minute while like a wind crying endlessly through some vast universe, the same inexorable time carries away all our ephemeral names and deeds. And all that we were, all that remains is in the memories of those who cared we came this way briefly….. As 2012 drew to a close, I sought to put down some thoughts about the year it was but then there was rather bittersweet realisation how we spend so much time trying to justify ourselves to the shadows of those who are long gone. And even if they were still around, would they remember? Would they recall what they had said or done that made you spend the rest of your life proving yourself? And if you could go back, wouldn’t you learn that you were always the master of your fate?

And if you learned that great truth, wouldn’t it free you of a useless burden. A dead weight  from a phantom reality? What more can I say about 2012. Meeting and making great friends, spending times that you never wish would end … and somehow never do as they always stay in the memory, some moments of dread and helplessness you wish will never come again and many others you fervently wish that had never arisen  or you could have dealt with more ably and differently. Friends you come across suddenly. others you make the same way, and are with you while yet there are others who you keep waiting for, waiting for in your happiest, saddest and tense times….waiting for them to make the slightest gesture till you figure the doctrine of assymetrical  reciprocity is most noble but doesn’t work…. But then that is life and one must learn to leave the past and all those who will stay there in that the same dark vale and move ahead with those who will ahead on the difficult but existing path to broad, sunlit uplands…. ( I realise that is my Churchillian streak surfacing… must be the brandy and cigars)

On the whole, it was an interesting year – full of great moment and promise, endless work and fun times, periods of intense drudgery and frenzied activity, routine journeys and unexpected travels, some great books (that I will always remember) , intense and insightful realisations of my purpose in life – moments of excitable revolt against it and periods of calm resignation…. Well, best is to remember is a jest and act accordingly…. the rest is unseen.

I think that is enough babble….. Looking forward to an intense, meaningful and interesting 2013 and a resolute passage across across it with my amour propre intact in the proper armour (I think it is time to end any discourse when you begin to make dreadfully silly puns). So goodbye 2012

Wrapping up the Year #2: The 13 best books I read in 2013 II

And now its time to pick my 13 favourites reads in 2013, and the reasons thereof.  Why? A great author and man – while making a list of the dozen most favourite stories of his immortal creation – the greatest detective of all times – remarked it was proverbially wrong for a judge to analyze his decisions, but like he went ahead, so will I.

So here goes – and oh yes, the list is in no particular order and does not denote either a ranking or chronological order the book was read.

The Pyrates: A Swashbuckling Comic Novel by the Creator of Flashman and The ReaversGeorge MacDonald Fraser.

There was no way I was going to leave out my favourite author out, especially when I read two of his most funniest books, his last autobiographical book and the one remaining episode of the Flashman series. It was a tough decision between this and The Reavers,  and strict justice demanded I include only of them.  But I cannot claim to the ability to set one above the other and have therefore without any ado, named both of them. Not only are both of these absolutely spiffy fun reads, but both well display that rare quality – the author having as fun writing the novel as you had reading it. The first encompasses every pirate stereotype seen or read, and second does the same for the Elizabethan era and sundry nefarious activities then extant, both absolutely eschew political correctness – like the Flashman series – and every line sends you into paroxysms of helpless, irresistible laughter, so perhaps you shouldn’t read either of them in public.

 Dreadnought  – Robert K. Massie

A wonderfully engrossing account of high international politics and the arms race in the late 19th century and how the Great War came about. Brings a long-gone era and its notable personalities to vivid light.

Where Three Roads Meet – Salley Vickers

A brilliant re-telling of a seminal myth and the last days of an exemplary mind.

The Mamur Zapt and The Return of the Carpet (Mamur Zapt, #1) – Michael Pearce

Another sparkling gem I came across this year. The Mamur Zapt series are  sparkling narratives of Egypt in a forgotten – but for me a greatly-missed – era, and the imperial attitudes extant therein. An engrossing mystery and denouement are ably played out by a host of unforgettable characters (particularly Z. whom I wouldn’t mind knowing…or perhaps I do), while the witty and spirited dialogue is  marvellous. It is difficult to pick one out of the 10-odd I have so far read so I will just keep the first of them.

Inventing the Victorians  – Matthew Sweet

Debunks most of the myths about Victorians, and shows how much they resembled – and shaped – the modern age,  and how we – you all  (since I am of that epoch only) can still learn from them – personal knowledge and manners for one, I would venture to say.

Bulldog Drummond: The Carl Peterson Quartet –   Sapper

A rousing set of adventures with a cast of unforgettable characters, headed by a larger-than-life character, who do what they have to do in an uncertain age. Wonderfully atmospheric – and I don’t believe any of the criticism how it is all so dated, politically incorrect, jingoistic, chauvanistic and the rest of that bunkum….

Thinking Of Answers: Questions In The Philosophy Of Everyday Life – A.C.  Grayling

A host of questions for today’s uncertain age answered with a rare insight.

The Main Enemy: The Inside Story of the CIA’s Final Showdown with the KGB Milton Bearden

Fact can be more engrossing than fiction proves this gripping account of the shadow manoeuvrings of the Cold War.

Casebook of Sexton Blake – David Stuart Davies (editor)

Another Golden Age hero, who has received less than his due in our day and age.

Journey Through Britain  – John Hillaby

A magnificently idiosyncratic ramble through Britain.

Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War EraJames M McPherson

With my new-found fascination for the American Civil War, this one-volume comprehensive account was sure to find a place, and is sure to be a harbringer of many more dealing with various facets of the War Between the States.

The Killer Angels – Michael Shaara

A last-minute inclusion but an inspired choice nevertheless. Brings the tragic story of Gettysburg to life through the viewpoints of its principal protagonists. Can’t wait to read the sequel and prequel by the son (Am halfway through the sequel in in which USG and his equally brilliant subordinates figure, even as a I wait for the prequel’s delivery.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is my list and I do hope it inspires you to read them – even one. However being what I am, I find the list insufficient and crave indulgence to add a further half-dozen honourable mentions….

The Alienist (Dr. Laszlo Kreizler, #1)  – Caleb Carr/Silent War – David Fiddimore

The first is a genuinely creepy story, very atmospheric and profiting immensely from featuring a larger-than-life character, the then New York Police Commissioner (and his engaging family who appear in one scene) before he went on to much bigger and greater things… don’t know who it is? Well you’re more to be pitied then censured. The second figures because the way it tells of one of the last Imperial outposts …. and yes the cameo appearance by Brother Gamal clinches the argument.

The Second Tom Holt Omnibus: My Hero/Who’s Afraid of Beowulf? – Tom Holt

Pure inspired, trope-subverting mayhem – the fist one that is.

Outposts: Journeys to the Surviving Relics of the British Empire – Simon Winchester

The name says it all, and the journeys are told with verve and an eye to detail in these forgotten areas of the globe.

A Spy by Nature: A Novel  – Charles Cumming

A dark, despairing account of espionage and what it actually entails.

 Flaws in the Jewel –  Roderick Matthews

A uniquely perceptive account of the reality of the Raj, scoring in bringing the first set of “What-If’ scenarios to the study of India history. I hope it will not be the last.

Billy Boyle – James R Benn

World War II is a topic no man – no real man – can skip. And here is a brash young man making his own contribution to Allied victory. I mention the first of the series since it and the second one are the ones I have read… I anticipate doing the rest in the year to come…









Wrapping up the year #2: The 13 best books I read in 2013

This  started off as a effort to commemorate  some highlights of the year but somehow I decided against it… As a wise man once said, dreams of a feast only increases the hunger of a starving man. Being no less wise (not to mention modest), I decided to focus on a better and less ephemeral pleasure – the 13 best books I read during this year.

At this point, I find it fair to tell you that I began a reading challenge for 2012, pitting myself to read 999 new books. It was later I found this would entail 2.3 books everyday – leave alone the time factor, finding this number of interesting books would not be very easy. I tried as much as I could and I hope to end the year, having read about a third of what I set out to….

Out of the 330 odd books I have read so far, selecting 13 – roughly four percent –  is not entirely a straightforward task. In line with my methodical and analytical approach, I propose to draw a shortlist of, say 35 books and then from these select the top 13 with a short account of why I liked it.

So here goes… my shortlist from all the books I read in 2013. I hope to have the final list before the year is done.

Drinking Arak off an Ayatollah’s Beard – Nicholas Jubber

The Light’s On At Signpost;  The Pyrates: A Swashbuckling Comic Novel by the Creator of FlashmanThe Reavers George MacDonald Fraser

Lion of Jordan: The Life of King Hussein in War and Peace – Avi Shlaim

When Baghdad Ruled the Muslim World: The Rise and Fall of Islam’s Greatest Dynasty – Hugh Kennedy

The Second Tom Holt Omnibus: My Hero/Who’s Afraid of Beowulf? – Tom Holt

Outposts: Journeys to the Surviving Relics of the British Empire – Simon Winchester

A Spy by Nature: A Novel  – Charles Cumming

Dreadnought  – Robert K. Massie

Thinking Of Answers: Questions In The Philosophy Of Everyday Life – A.C.  Grayling

Bulldog Drummond: The Black Gang –   Sapper

The World Beyond –  Sangeeta Bhargava

Through the Language Glass: How Words Colour Your World  – Guy Deutscher

The Mamur Zapt and The Return of the Carpet (Mamur Zapt, #1) – Michael Pearce (and more entries in the series, though I can name just one here)

The Main Enemy: The Inside Story of the CIA’s Final Showdown with the KGB – Milton Bearden

At the Tomb of the Inflatable Pig: A Riotous Journey Into the Heart of Paraguay – John D. Gimlette

Looking For Rachel Wallace (Spenser, #6)  – Robert B.Parker

Outlaws Inc –   Potter, Matt

Casebook of Sexton Blake – David Stuart Davies (editor)

On Cosmopolitanism and Forgiveness –  Jacques Derrida

The Walking Drum –  Louis L’Amour

Flaws in the Jewel –  Roderick Matthews

The Bloody Meadow –  William Ryan

Journey Through Britain  – John Hillaby

The Magician’s Accomplice: A Jana Matinova Investigation Set in Slovakia  Michael Genelin

The Death Of Sigmund Freud: Fascism, Psychoanalysis And The Rise Of Fundamentalism – Mark Edmundson

The Alienist (Dr. Laszlo Kreizler, #1)  – Caleb Carr

Silent War – David Fiddimore

Where Three Roads Meet – Salley Vickers

Inventing the Victorians  – Matthew Sweet

Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era – James M McPherson

Wrapping up the year #1: The 2012 resolutions (and their fate)

Regular – a post a day at least – blogging was one of my resolutions for 2012, but even a most cursory glance at the frequency of posts here during the year will indicate how much it was observed.

The other resolutions do not seem to have fared much better. So as 2012 winds to a close, let us see how what headway (or lack thereof)  I made in them.

#1 Kam se kam ek hazaar nayi kitabein padhna (to read at least 1000 new books) – Well, this was one of the resolutions I pursued to the best of my ability, despite early realisation that reading 2.3 books a day was a tall task even for me. Even if I somehow scrounged the time and utilised all my speed reading and instant comprehension skills to the maximum, finding and acquiring that number of books I would like was going to be a tall task. As I write this on Christmas Day, my current tally stands at 308, I have five books in hand and one or two more are expected. Add to this, the 100 odd Urdu books or so I have read, I feel I will achieve a respectable total even if it is less than 50 percent of the goal.

#2 Apni zabaan ke ilm ko aur durust karna, us mein itni nafasat aur shaistagi laana ke us maqaam par pahunche jo Sharar aur Sarshar ke ahd mein thi,  agar Suroor ke nahi (to better my knowledge of the language, and to achieve such grace and refinement as to approach the lofty heights as in the era of Sharar and Sarshar, if not Suroor)Well, I think this was one of the success stories of the year, even though if I could not get many people to understand.

#3 Blog par har din ek post karna, aur posts ki maujuda tadaad ko kam se kam dugna karna (a blog post a day minimum, so as to double the number of the existing entries)I have dealt with this issue above. While sloth and indolence played their role, the pressure of work, the spells of frantic activity, the sojourns at home and various other factors did play a role as well.

#4 Dabistan-e-Lakhnau ki alam-bardaari ko imandari se nibhana (to honestly discharge duty of a standard-bearer of Lakhnavi ethos and culture) – Performed to the best of my ability, save insofar as it involved writing about it here regularly (see 3 above)

#5 Har hafte mein kam se kam do tarjume karna (to do two translations a week) – Again found lacking (see 3 above)

#6 Mashiyaat mamlaat ko hikmat aur aql se sambhalna ke company khasaare mein na jaaye (to be wiser in financial matters so as to prevent deficit situations) -Well, most of us can’t do that even if we were Croesus and with some lucrative pursuits coming to close…. No further comments.

#7 Taaluqaat vo hi nibhayi jaayi jis mein amad-o-raft, ittehad aur aitbaar ho. Tajurbe se seekha hai jis mein mutabadil hone ka amal na ho, uska koi fayda nahi hai (to maintain only those links where there is reciprocity, understanding and trust.. ) – Well, to be honest, made the same mistakes as ever most of the year – despite enough signals to haul in a whole fleet – till the second-last month when two outrages demonstrated that it was a futile effort to keep faith with those who couldn’t care less.

#8 Ek musannif banne ka apna iraada pura karna – No comments

#9 Aur machhi aur samundar ki mukhtalif paidawar, khaaskar tuna, khana (To eat more fish and produce of sea, especially tuna)Done to quite some extent

#10 Kam se kam do nayi zabanen seekhna (to learn at least two new languages)  – Another pious hope that remained unfulfilled.

#11 Koshish karni ke sherwani pehnne ka muqaddas mauqa aaye – The less said about this the better. On the positive side… but let us keep fingers crossed.
And no, I will not elaborate.

#12 Safar pe ja ke kuch naye manzar dekhna (to travel and see new sights)Fulfilled to quite some extent, with travels to the neighbouring continent, and some of its verdant areas and some parched ones, as well a delightful beach and a historic and atmospheric port. Later in the year, trip to the deep south and seeing the same ocean from the other side.

#13 Agle saal aisa mushkil aur pechida kaam pehle se hi shuru karna, aur aakhri waqt ke liye na rakhna (self-explanatory) – Another one that is going to be observed in the breach…..