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Another year, another laugh

December 31, 2019

As yet another year draws to a close, amid political turmoil, rampant injustice and violence across the world, is there any reason to say Happy New Year?

I believe so.

From watching the news on television, it would seem otherwise. Crime is rampant. Death stalks the roads. No one can be trusted. Civil society is breaking down.

But there’s still an enormous sense of satisfaction in life’s small pleasures.

Friends getting together to catch up on old times. People traveling to new places. Families lavishing love and affection. Readers and TV watchers devouring their best books and shows. Connoisseurs of art and music gorging on what they adore. And foodies wolfing down their favorite dishes.

I’m looking forward to spending the first week of March with a bunch of friends in India, where we have a yearly rendezvous, somewhere in the hills. We talk and drink and joke and listen to some great music and eat some great food.

Here in New York, a group of friends from Newsday with an insatiable appetite for dim sum are going to be greeting the Year of the Rat later in January, sitting around a table somewhere in the din and bustle of Flushing, Queens.

Our families are a source of strength and joy — and occasions like weddings, like my daughter’s recently, bring the generations together under one roof to reminisce about the times we spent growing up.

We travel to enjoy the sights and sounds and tastes and smells of places we seek to revisit or discover. For me and my wife, this year it was mostly India, and the Hudson Valley, where we chanced upon a fabulous antique shop stuffed with typewriters, old furniture, clothes decorations and posters that was a veritable trip back in time.

This year I developed a love of South African jazz, a la the late Hugh Masekela, thanks to my friend PK, and Pandora.

Art has a special place in my heart. I sketched portraits of Leonard Cohen, Woody Allen, Satyajit Ray and Ritwik Ghatak. And I’m working on a landscape of Darjeeling — the Himalayan resort town where i was born. Finishing each drawing brings me a peculiar sense of joy and fulfillment.

There’s joy also in making others happy. I got a kick out of introducing my son-in-law to the pleasures eating dim sum in a Chinese restaurant — he was absolutely thrilled.

So what’s not to be happy about?

Sure we oppose injustice and aggression, and all the terrible things happening around the world.

But why let it ruin the one thing we should all be grateful for — life?

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