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Grim reminder

Magic of the bucket list

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The Jack Nicholson movie came as a grim reminder of things one wants to do but puts away for lack of time.

Bucket of Beer? To drink or bathe in? Or both?' Sanjay's comment was so quintessentially him - taking the mickey out of anyone trying to be pretentious. But I wasn't trying to be smart or showing off that I had time to spare, with an internet connection. I was dead serious.

A few hours before his comment, I'd posted on my Facebook wall that I'd like to be at a certain beer festival in the US at least once before I die. Should have foreseen Sanjay poking fun at it.

He knows, as I do, that it helps to make public such things, simply because there's a certain obligation to actually tick things off the bucket list or else face the scorn of those you've told and be talked about as just another talker.

So, there I was, telling my FB friends about my beer fantasy - as I'd told them about the Tiger's Nest, the Appalachian Trail and the Sunderbans, among other things.

The problem with bucket lists is the bucket. You never know when you'll kick it. And the list will remain on the wall, a grim reminder of all that you wanted to do but didn't because you were too busy doing things you didn't want to. It may well be your digital epitaph.

I came across this concept in the Morgan Freeman-Jack Nicholson movie, The Bucket List. When the credits rolled, I wanted to write mine. It was a few years before I actually did it. Ever since, and every now and then, I add something to the list and strike something off, but that doesn't happen so often.

So, the number of things to do keeps increasing every year and typically, at the end of it, which is generally around this time, the balance sheet is quite skewed.

The one thing I managed to finally take off the list is 'Read Tony Hawks' book Round Ireland with a Fridge. It may sound rather excessive to put a book on a bucket list but it worked.

I'd heard about this book many years ago when a colleague mentioned it quite casually. There was something in his voice - admiration, perhaps - which caught my attention and when I checked it out on the web, I could see why.

A man loses a drunken bet in a pub, and consequently, has to travel around Ireland with fridge. That's a twitterish summary of the book, and hardly does justice to the sheer joy of story-telling, the people, and the writer himself.

Last year, I bought the book and put it among my other books, hoping I'd find time to read it some day. After a few months, I figured that wasn't happening anytime soon and invoked the power of the bucket list.
It worked.

It's not as though I read through the night and finished the book in one sitting. Far from it. I laboured through it over several months, not because the writing was bad (it's superb) but simply because life and living were wearing me out, to change a Mo Yan phrase, and I didn't have time for fridges in Ireland.

But I was determined to finish it this year, and a couple of weeks ago, I finally did it. I won't inflict on you a spoiler about the ending. Suffice it to say, at the end, you won't be disappointed. I wasn't.

But this is not only about the fridge. It's about the bucket list which helped me do something I may have eventually done postretirement.

Next year, I plan to add to the list Murakami's 1Q84, which stares at me accusingly from the stack on my table. And hope the same magic will do its trick.

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