Annus Horribilis – 2020. Let’s be upbeat about 2021!

The Queen of England in 1992, after a disastrous year for the Royal Family, used the term “it’s been a horrible year” in Latin. 

Most of us would look for stronger, more negative words to describe 2020. Having spent most of the year with a damaged coccyx from a jeep safari incident, I’m truly able to say 2020 was a pain, more than just a pain in the butt.

Many people, however, lost family and friends, lost employment, lost hope, and lost any vision of returning to the way things were. 

As 2020 is about to fade, I think it will be known in the future as “The wake-up year for the human race”.I have heard it said it’s the worst year in many ways since the Second World War.

I have some personal highlights for the year that is just about to end. I spent 9 months with Jezzabel, the wife, in one stretch. One month had been the max prior, and two weeks the norm over about eighteen years. We have come out of it stronger, wiser, and more healthy. We have had 300+ yoga classes, mainly at home with our yogi guru, walked about 2000 kilometres, swam 8000 meters, rekindled some old relationships, made some new friends in our apartment block, one delightful family has lived above us for nearly a decade and we had never met. We also worked out who the time-wasters were.

In my 200+ random rules of the Whinging Pome, Number 183 states, “Surround yourself with positive people“. 

However, 2020 was also a time to reach out to others who needed help. We have been lucky, spending more time exploring the island we live on. Our holiday home in the mountains overlooking a lake by the picturesque Victoria Golf Club has become a business for Jezzabel, and she now operates the villa for tourists, mainly locals, and ex-pats. As a qualified accountant, I’ve been impressed with her hands-on operational control and her drive on marketing the place. At home, I have learned again what it is like to make a meal, make a bed, and clean our home. I’m sure like many others my alcohol levels didn’t drop in 2020 though we have had to rely more on locally made spirits.

So 2021 is going to be a challenge to so many of us, but the COVID vaccines may get us back to some form of normalcy. What’s on your list for 2021? I suppose we are dependent on the vaccine rollout and the ability to travel. My annual previously documented new Year resolution was to join a music band and tour, with sex, drugs, and rock and roll. No that’s not the name of my three dogs. Someone wiser than me said we should make a list of what we would do if we were “stinky “ rich as a starting point for the year ahead. On your death bed, what would you regret not having achieved? Sounds like a Bucket List type movie. I always think of Oscar Wilde who on his death bed as an atheist had a catholic priest welcome him to the Church/faith, perhaps not his last “F“ you stunt. He was an atheist and had been ridiculed by the Church. They say your favourite song or movie gives you an idea about yourself. No wonder there are so many star wars nuts around. Despite what we all may think “routine “ in some form is good for us. Downsizing homes or material assets for some will be key, whilst for some, having a less complicated life and carrying less baggage is a lesson learned in 2020.

So on the positive side of 2021, 

I have used this year to return to better health and fitness, and in 2021 I need to at least maintain some of this discipline, which, however, has not included moderation in the consumption of gin. The upside, given the reduction of imports to Sri Lanka, the increasing duties on any imported liquor, and the promotion of better quality local liquor, is that the international brands are going to have to fight back. If 2019 gave me an opportunity to fly about thirty times I’m thinking in 2021 I will have limited international flights and it’s likely they will start in the second quarter. This will create time and energy for more trips around the island of Sri Lanka, such as the amazing rain forests, the train to Jaffna, and perhaps some sailing, (our modest boat has not seen water for 12 months), sea fishing, mountain walking, and exploring. 

The much-improved home delivery services, upgraded products of “export quality“ being available locally, and home entertainment is going to result in fewer restaurant visits. If dining out is a preference, we want to bring our own wines and expect more flexibility and more customer benefits. I do notice currently that in many top restaurants when the waiter brings the bill he asks if you have a credit card as this carries a discount, unbeknown to us. When I ask which card they say HSBC, HNB, NTB, etc. In fact, there are offers on any credit card you have. Credit card companies are also feeling the pinch I assume. More simple dinners with good friends instead of being seen in the best places in town, let’s leave that to the new rich. There is no shortage of them but generally, in Sri Lanka, they are linked to political parties/families or their cronies. Having spent the last year avoiding staying at big hotels, many were converted to quarantine centers at some point, our stay over planning will center around quaint, small boutiques with some luxury with great service and plenty of walking opportunities.

There is now more flexibility of home services, eg masseurs, gym instructors, yogi teachers, doctors, an array of medical tests. Add to all this increased home-deliveries and of course, the romantic nights in with Netflix are establishing new norms. We know that there will be new changing rules and regulations on international travel in 2021 which I suspect are likely to increase the cost and reduce the service. It is going to take a year or more to get the vaccine to Sri Lankan’s 22 million population. Continue long quarantine periods on arrival will be with us for the near future so I’m not expecting to get on a holiday abroad soon. Having already published many stories on travelling in Sri Lanka I will be adding many more in 2021, so when the tourists return perhaps book three will be “Travels in my adopted homeland – Sri Lanka – by The Whinging Pome”.

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