It has been a year since I last published on my blog so it is only fitting that my first and last post of 2016 be the year end post. There was a lot to talk and write about this year – from good to bad to worst, mostly the latter. However, it’s better to sum up the last twelve months now with the benefit of hindsight. If you were to read things (and by things I mean mostly tweets and memes) it would seem as if people cannot wait for 2016 to be over. I feel like one of the most enduringly optimistic qualities we as humans possess is the belief that as clock strikes 12 on Dec 31st, somehow things will change and get better. A new dawn, a new day sort of thing. I think at 29 (I have no clue how I got to this age this fast), I am past this but it is still nonetheless a nice way of reflecting back on things, events and people that left an impression on you. So without further adieu here’s my 2016 year end post broken down by
There was a fair bit of Netflix and chill 😉 in our household this year. Both Sid and I are homebodies so we go through tv series quite quickly. However, our tastes tend to vary. I love me some trash reality television from time to time whereas he will watch anything with superheroes or sci-fi themes in it. I know it’s a cliche but it’s true! So, shows get vetoed off within the first ten minutes sometimes and there is a collective hurrah if we find a show we both want to watch. The list below comprises of things we have seen together and enjoyed watching. Because god forbid if I get Sid to watch an episode of Project Runway with me (now, that will truly be a new dawn!)
- Stranger Things – Probably my most favorite show of the year, Stranger Things was great because it was simple. Simple fun. What it had going for it was memorable characters and wonderful child actors who infused these characters with immense like ability and charm. I can’t wait for season 2.
- The Night Of – This show had a strong start, a somewhat slow and stagnant middle and an end that was arguably dissatisfying. However, it was terrifically acted and some parts of it were gut wrenchingly emotional thus leaving a huge impression on us. It was hard not to care for Nasir Khan played exceptionally by Riz Ahmed so much so that after a point the show became more about the people rather than the facts about the case.
- The Night Manager – A beautifully shot and well acted show but in hindsight the story was a bit underwhelming. Had it not been for Tom Hiddleston and Hugh Laurie, this show would have been mediocre.
- Black Mirror – thanks to Twitter recommendations we discovered this show and finished the first season in one sitting (it was just 3 episodes before you think of us as people with no life 😛 ). The show makes you uncomfortable but also makes you question things. I wouldn’t recommend this show if you want to lift your spirits. The morbidness of it all can be a bit depressing. Having said that, we went back and saw Season 2 and 3 and every episode has something unique to say and the show is so relevant for the times we live in. Insightful, compelling and so much more than just a television show. Special mention to the episodes ‘Nosedive’ and ‘San Junipero’ from this season.
- The Americans – why doesn’t this show get more attention and love is beyond me. Season after season they knock it out of the park.
- Silicon Valley – Sometimes I feel the characters and situations come off as too far fetched (and I hope they are) but it is still a consistently engaging show. Also, Gilfoyle and Jared Dunn are fantastic to watch.
- Catastrophe – I saw the first season of this show on a flight, loved it and couldn’t wait to see the second season. Brilliantly written and acted, I just wish there were more episodes. It’s so good.
- Survivor – always interesting to watch and one of those rare reality shows that offers great insight into people. Sid and I have seen all the 33 seasons and the show’s catchphrases have found their way into our vernacular.
- Modern Family – a perennial favorite. I feel like I miss out on some jokes in the first viewing and inevitably have to watch it the second time. The writing is that good. Also, Phil Dunphy should be president of the world.
- Descendants of the Sun – On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being The OC and 10 being Breaking Bad, DOTS would probably be a 2 or 3. It lies in the seemingly frivolous and superficial rom-com space but when shows in this space are done right they are very entertaining. It was a colleague who pointed me to this show and after resisting the urge to watch a K-drama I finally gave in. If you were in Singapore it would have been hard to miss how popular this show was. The humor, acting, music, locations were all top notch.
A quick shout out to TVF Tripling and telugu web series Mudapappu Avakaya for being a breath of fresh air when it comes to Indian shows. I had my parents staying with us for a month during which time we
saw endured hindi serials with them. They sure don’t lack in drama. Or should I call it sci-fi given the number of reincarnations, the super-advanced aging process, plastic surgeries and extra terrestrial species (I refuse to consider some of the people on these shows normal humans) that exist on these programs.
- Zootopia – I was genuinely surprised by how good this movie was. All the subliminal and obvious messages in this movie are great not only for kids but also for adults. Plus brownie points for the “Godfather” references
- Deadpool – It’s very rare to see movies where the lead character and the actor that plays that role are so in sync that it becomes hard to imagine anybody else in that position. Ryan Reynolds IS Deadpool. I liked that they did not dilute the edginess of the movie to appeal to a broader audience. The shock factor was strong with this one.
- 10 Cloverfield Lane – An interesting psychological thriller that had me engaged throughout its duration. There aren’t enough good thriller movies out there so this one makes the list.
- La La Land – All the critical acclaim notwithstanding, I thought Whiplash was a better movie. Now that that’s out of the way we can focus on La La Land. When I walked out of the theatre I didn’t really feel much – perhaps I was expecting too much considering both Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling are my absolute favorites. Au contraire, Sid, the president of the ‘I hate musicals’ association, thought the movie was quite good. The performances and the musical numbers were great but somehow it did not have that much of an emotional impact on me in totality, despite the beautiful ending. It was only the next day that the movie or rather specific scenes and moments from the movie hit me. I think I would re-watch this movie just for those few scenes.
- Finding Dory – Yes, it got ridiculous towards the end but I loved the characters so much that I am willing to give that a pass. Baby Dory has to be one of the cutest things I have ever seen.
- The Lobster – Probably one of the most innovative movies I have seen in a while. Sid and I saw this movie together on a flight and were thoroughly amused by it. Buoyed by fantastic performances from its leads, this movie should definitely be on your radar. It’s weird but good weird.
- Nocturnal Animals – Beautifully shot – can’t expect less from Tom Ford, Nocturnal Animals drew me in right from the get go because the of the atmosphere it created and Jake Gyllenhall (gosh he is handsome). And that ending was haunting. Sid hated the movie – he slept through the middle portion of it and could not wait for the movie to end.
*Haven’t seen Arrival, Manchester By The Sea, Moonlight, Jackie yet
- Kapoor and Sons – Loved everything about the movie. A movie that has terrific repeat value which is very rare these days.
- Dangal – I loved the first half of the movie – it seemed authentic and the child actors were brilliant. The second half, while good, was overlong and melodramatic. The struggle of an athlete would have been compelling in itself without the need for a caricature of a coach. But these are minor gripes in an otherwise great movie. Aamir was brilliant in the movie and it was nice to see one of our usually ‘ageless’ superstars act in a vanity free role.
- Pink – Another fantastic movie from start to finish. While the courtroom drama was compelling, it was the journey of the women – strong, independent yet vulnerable – that was interesting to watch.
- Udta Punjab – What an actress Alia Bhatt is turning out to be. Her scenes in the movie were gut wrenchingly brutal and emotional. Whilst everyone else performed exceptionally well, for me this movie was all about Alia Bhatt.
- Neerja – It got too dramatic towards the end but for the most part Neerja was a well acted movie that did justice to its namesake. I tear up very easily anyways so Neerja was tough on me, especially the scenes with Shabana Azmi. Again, not a movie you might like if you appreciate subtlety.
- Kahaani 2 – I admire Vidya Balan’s commitment to her character – she is an actress in a league of her own. However, comparisons to the first movie are inevitable. This one obviously doesn’t soar as high as its predecessor but Kahaani 2 was less a thriller and more the story of a child abuse survivor and it’s admirable that these stories are being made and accepted.
- Fan – If you look at Fan just at the surface level, it is rather mediocre. But, it’s the non obvious nods to stardom, success and ego that elevate this movie. Especially considering it is Shah Rukh Khan who plays the role. I found the character of the movie star more fascinating than the fan. The makers could probably have done without the over-the-top action sequences in the latter half but even with all its imperfections, Fan is a movie that I thoroughly enjoyed.
*Haven’t seen Parched, Phobia, Raman Raghav 2.0, Aligarh. Plus, I may be in the minority but I found Airlift to be very cringeworthy. Dear Zindagi was frustrating to watch and I couldn’t wait for ADHM to finish despite the performances. I liked parts of Sultan and MS Dhoni.
Some food for thought
- Although I wasn’t in India, thanks to news and my family (or rather their Whatsapp joke forwards), I got a sense of what the demonetization saga meant. I think the idea to reduce corruption, increase transparency are great at the intent level but in a country as huge and diverse as India, the devil is in the details. Hopefully all this works out for the good. Even if it doesn’t, at least we got some more Rahul Gandhi jokes!
You know what would be good though – depopulation. Someone please talk about this because the root cause for most of our country’s problems is that there are just too many of us.
- Every time there is a global sporting event it serves as a reminder that we as a country are underperforming. This year’s Rio Olympics was no different. It was heartwarming to see fantastic performances from some of the athletes, especially Dipa Karmakar, PV Sindhu and Sakshi Malik. However, if we want things to change maybe we should channelize our collective frustration more often rather than every four years. Also, maybe focus more on building facilities and infrastructure rather than falling over one another to gift flats and BMWs to athletes.
- This was also the year of Brexit, US presidential elections and anti-immigrant rhetoric all across the world. On one side we seem to be moving to a more global, connected world and yet some minds are getting narrower. It’s also funny how everyone wants to close the door behind them. These are complex issues with no easy solutions which makes it that much more important for us to rely on basic human decency in times of doubt.
Some holiday cheer
- Learning how to swim
At the beginning of this year I decided I wanted to learn how to swim; partly because I wanted to get over my fear of water and partly because it is one of those skills that everybody should learn even if they don’t use it regularly. It took me 2 weeks to just learn how to float in shallow water but once I got over that initial hurdle it got easier. I wish I had learnt how to swim when I was younger because one has lesser fears then but nevertheless I am very happy to say I can swim now! I am still awkward to watch in water and to a bystander might even look as if I am sinking rather than swimming but technically I can swim.On a side note, a behind the scenes documentary of how Sid taught me to swim would be a fantastic comedy+drama.
- Traveling and road trips
2016 was the year of road trips. We drove all around New Zealand’s South Island which was by far our most favorite trip ever! We also did the famed Pacific Coast Highway drive in USA which was stunning. We love listening to music or podcasts and just talking about life as we drive around so here’s hoping 2017 brings many more road trip opportunities. Plus, I have become an expert in gps navigation, music management and snacks handling since Sid is the one who does the driving. I am happy that we invest our time and resources into travel because we like to experience different cultures, people and places. I also know we are fortunate to be able to do this. Travel because you want to. Not because you have to.
[You can read more about our travels here and here]
- Reading more books
2016 was a good year for my reading. I finished a book a month on average which is a huge improvement from previous years. The running theme seemed to be edgy thrillers (one of my favorite genres) because I find myself more engaged with these but I am hoping to read more diverse books next year. I really want to read books around India’s culture and history that aren’t too highbrow. Any recommendations?
Favorite quote/life mantra of the year
What are your new year plans? We will actually be in a new country this new year. It’s a big (apple) move and any anticipation has been walloped by the amount of packing I have done in the last few weeks. My dreams these days comprise of bubble wrap, tape and cardboard boxes. But, I am low key excited and hoping for more interesting adventures. Having said that, it is bittersweet to say goodbye to a place that has given us such fond memories. Singapore will always have a special place in our heart.
So as another year comes to a close, here’s wishing we are all happier,healthier and wiser in the next one. Have loads of fun and Happy new year everyone!!
PS: I am a south Indian who has never seen a ‘real’ winter. So send in your best wishes as I move from the tropical sunshine of Singapore to freezing temperatures. I reckon I will bundled up in fourteen layers with a red nose. It’s going to be a pretty sight!