Every year, we tend to look back with much disdain and regret, but look forward to the next year with much hope. Not this year though. 2018 taught us that escalating environmental crises such as the Delhi smog will get worse, but it’ll take more than just an apocalypse for us to acknowledge the reality. The controversial updation of the National Register of Citizens ended up in the exclusion of over 40 lakh people in Assam from its draft list, leaving them with the status of foreigners, but, hey, if social media activities are anything to go by, urban Indians are more than okay to have this foreigner in their personal draft list instead. The worst flood of the century hit Kerala, killing close to 500 and making a property damage of more than ₹20,000 crore, but let that number not daunt you: Isha Ambani’s wedding supposedly cost $100 million (approx Rs 703 crore). Section 377 was decriminalised, but the Transgender Persons Bill 2018 leaves a lot to be desired. Oh, and a journalist in Manipur was arrested for, well, being a journalist. Must we go on?
In light of all the bleakness, we decided to look inwards—in this case, within the dark portals of our office—and ruminate over whether 2019 is really going to be THAT great. Hint: It’s not. Read on to find out why:
I like Game of Thrones. Nay, I ADORE Game of Thrones. And the show, along with the second last standing monoculture—The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU)—will leave us this April. Sure, we'll get enough prequels for Thrones and #Phase4 of the MCU to look forward to, but everything we spent the better parts of the last decade with is going to leave us in a snap of a finger. Maybe this is what growing up is about. April will come and tears will flow and we'll have to go into May without these two precious companions. I don't know about you, but I'm not ready to let go just yet.
**2) Indian Elections
**Here are the kind of things that can happen in the upcoming Indian elections:
A) Gareebon ka Vin Diesel Yogi Adityanath becomes Prime Minister.
B) After a trashcan-on-fire first term, Narendra Modi comes back as PM.
C) Rahul Gandhi, who, for a lack of options we've now embraced, remains Pappu.
D) Arvind Kejriwal does not become our PM.
All the above scenarios are sad, almost heartbreaking, and some of them for sure will come true. We might not be the sharpest fuckers around, but we truly deserve better than this.
**3) Ayodhya Verdict
**Ram Mandir and anti-Muslim chants reverberated in Ayodhya in November 2018, and the right-wing has been asking for the verdict to be delivered ASAP. The BJP is also reported to have said to resort to “other options” if the temple call is not taken. I wouldn’t be surprised to see yet another nail in the coffin of what is left of secularism in this country.
4) Orwellian New Year
With rising surveillance of citizens by governments, capitalism having fucked up our love lives (yes, that’s you, Tinder), social media sounding a death knell for real friendships and right-wing autocrats taking over the world, we might already be on our way to finally turn towards a less spontaneous, robotic form of life. 2019 might be the year we make the bug leap.
**5) Facebook Reckoning
**As of the last round of reporting, we now know that, sure, Facebook doesn't sell our data to companies, but they allow "partners" to look at all of it, which included—among other damning shit—allowing Netflix to see and delete our private messages. That's messed up, and could be the final nail in the Facebook coffin, or it could just end up being another poster on Mark Zuckerberg's I-Don't-Give-A-Fuck wall. Whichever it is, a reckoning is coming, where either the American government starts taking steps to break up big tech—Facebook, Apple, Google, Amazon, Microsoft—or they officially take over the world.
6) Millennial Poverty
climate change killing us
evil robots taking over jobs
Beyonce to dance at our wedding
**7) Postmodern Love
**From the social media, by the social media, and for the social media.
**8) Social Ratings
**China has done it but I find it hard to believe that we can ever be made accountable for our social behaviour. Those who don’t believe me have obviously never lived in Gurgaon.
**9) Mental Health
**‘How are you?’ and ‘Are you okay?’ These two questions have been following me around for what feels like an eternity since my mum passed away. I don't know how to answer that question, and honestly, I don't think I'll ever be able to answer it. The definition of being "fine" or "good" has changed, and I'm still swimming and confused about where it'll land or if it'll ever reach a point even close to what those words used to mean. The clearest thought in my head these days is to do something that helps someone else going through a similar experience find their way, even if I can't do that for myself. I love it that conversations around mental health are opening up but I worry that our existence is getting too bubbled up, and we are unable to help each other out.
10) Fourth Estate
heightened state of censorship and violence
**Nothing. Will. Change. If the OML story and other incidents of abuse and harassment that have come out from the music scene tell us anything, it’s that for all the proclaimed grandstanding that the industry does on social/political issues, there's no will to back it with action so we can bring about actual change. The industry is keen to send out empty platitudes, and I look forward to the 'women empowerment' and 'anti-rape' song that the artists that refused to take a stand or sidestepped the issue at NH7 Weekender, release next year—in association with a brand, of course.
**12) Delhi Pollution
**Delhi will shut down. About time though, don’t you think?
**13) Indian Hip-Hop
**Too soon, too many people and too many goddamn expectations and appropriations have positioned Indian hip-hop at an interesting juncture right now. The breakout success of acts such as DIVINE and Prabh Deep in their respective circles, has been glorious to observe, while names like Enkore, Gravity, Emiway and Seedhe Maut brought out the big guns as well. But with Bollywood's imminent involvement, and outside of being a skeptic, the state of Indian hip-hop has much to worry about in 2019. A larger portion of Indian audiences understood Bohemia, Rishi Rich and that bhangra wave to be their introduction to desi hip-hop, followed by Yo Yo Honey Singh, Raftaar and Badshah. But that will change once the Ranveer Singh-Alia Bhatt-starrer, Gully Boy , hits theatres in February, 2019. While there's already a visible sighting of members wanting to stake claim in the establishment of the underground into the mainstream, it will be interesting to see how this bigass Bollywood movie will affect the music, the popularity, and the cultural relevance of hip-hop in the Indian landscape.
14) Recession 2.0
**15) Ambani Wedding
**16) Bhai Fever
**Yet another Eid, yet another Salman movie (Bharat) to take up all the screens. 2018 was a stellar year for Hindi cinema but the toxic masculinity that is Bhai is still around, stunted acting skills and robotic dance moves in tow.
17) Royal Baby
Because this is the paparazzi gift that keeps on giving.
**There is no reason to believe that humanity, with all its dark ways, might continue to rule planet Earth. But can 2019 indeed be the year when an asteroid—the kind that wiped out the dinosaurs—hits the earth? The chances are not that high. But who knows?