New Year Celebrations…

Circa 1991, I remember going out on a New Year picnic with my joint family. It was to the nearby “Nursery Park” in Mecon Colony at Ranchi. It was a small 2-3 level park/nursery where some 50+ families from in and around Mecon would come for their New Year picnic/family outing. This was when I was still studying at Central School, and did not have friends in DAV (the school in Mecon, which meant that my chances of bumping into my friends during the picnic were slimmer), though my cousins did.

Back then, new year celebrations meant just that much – barely staying awake beyond midnight watching the line-up of programs on Doordarshan (DD-1) that announced the arrival of new year, celebrating Penaz Masanis and Usha Uthups of the world, really getting awed by Javed Jaffreys break dance, taking blessings from the elders, talking to a lot of friends/ relatives before going off to sleep, getting up at 6 or 7 in the morning and then getting ready for this day long picnic _with family_. Mom and chachis and mausis had to worry about the food arrangements, dad and chachas and mausas about transportation and other logistics, while we kids had to worry about the Bats, Balls, Badminton Racquets, Frisbees, and so on. Somewhere around then, Housie/ Tambola had also gained prominence an end of the day event on many picnics. And also, for these “Nursery Park” picnics, you needed a small permission letter from the park management authorities for having a picnic there. It was event management in totality, with each family being an event management company hosting an event for captive audiences.
The venues would change every now and then. When we got adventurous (or bored), we would pick places farther away, create more logistics problems for ourselves than we could conveniently manage, and go as far as Dasham Fall, or Kanke Dam, or some equivalent thereof. We did not have a car in the family, so it also meant arranging those mini-buses (through “contacts”, because we always planned last minute). But it was always about family, relatives, picnics, eating, playing, talking. The plan never changed. And we all looked forward to it. At least, I did.

This is how it stayed, till quite some time. Somewhere along the (Facebook) timeline, I did my MBA, and started working. And it was around 2006 or 2007 when, for the first time, I was not at home on the night of 31st Dec. That was the first time I was looking for “party venues” and was with friends (usual Inductis suspects – Shumeet, Shilpa, TG, Aziz, Sonu, Sulabh, etc.) on that night. We loitered around and spent some time at this pub/disc in New Friends Colony. It was fun. I remember how we were driving one car behind another because of the heavy fog and extremely low visibility in Delhi. Aziz had just learnt driving and was scared of driving that way, while Sonu was too drunk to remember anything. We went to Khullar’s place. I went back home early morning, and then spent the day with family. We went to Millennium Park that year, I think. On a side note, my Dadaji always looked forward to these New Year picnics and would totally brave the Delhi winters to go to an India Gate or a Millennium Park.
I moved to Mumbai after 2007, and I realized what big deal New Year events are/ have become. Probably, it was the glitter and glamour of Mumbai lifestyle, or probably it was just the fact that I was no longer at home. Or, that, in Mumbai, it’s just painfully difficult to get 5 family branches from different corners of the city to come to a park or something to spend the day together. Anyways, back to the phenomenon of New Year Celebrations (guess it’s time I got that captured in bold and Title Case)

These days, friends would (compete) discuss with each other as they decide their plan for NYC. Colleagues compare notes. Once it’s done and over, Facebook pictures are uploaded/scanned to assess who had the most happening time. Bitching about it, but still going ahead and “like”-ing the pictures and updates, and at the back of their head, without saying a word, planning the next New Year venue OR the next vacation spot. Traditionally, Goa and its drunken druggedness was a favorite. Lately, Lonavla’s farms, Bangkok’s beaches, or if you are a lowly mortal, a 5-star hotel’s celeb night (appearances by a popular DJ, singer, dancer, actress) would beckon you with all their might. Mumbai Times is a full size advertisement of how much you are missing out on if you decide to stay at home. The midnight by itself is another phenomenon. A frown on the forehead, as you miss someone’s call while you were drinking/dancing your way into the next year. A smile when you realize how man smses you have received and a sigh when you realize that you need to reply to them. A dread if you are one of those who spent the night at home (maybe because you didn’t feel like going out, maybe because you didn’t want to go out, maybe because your plans crashed, maybe because you had other plans (like taking care of your baby or someone who is not well)). Tomorrow morning – when people would be discussing what they did the previous night, you won’t have much to say, right?
The New Year day, by itself, is somewhat faded. Because you were partying till about 5 in the morning. Couple of days later, you may get a New Year card that wishes you well, and an intellectual realization that you have stopped sending cards, except to your business contacts. Somewhere in the middle of all this, there would be thoughts about losers who post Facebook status updates as the clock struck midnight. Somewhere, those who are not nearby are lost in the excitement of the night gone past. Somewhere, in the middle of all this, some people would still call us at midnight and wish us. Some old rituals continue. Some die. Some new ones take birth.

Here’s to hoping that this New Year eve/day, whatever you are doing, your heart is in the right place.

About Amit
Conventional, boring, believer, poet, Shayar (to be precise), lover of music, musical instruments, and all that can be called music (theoretically or metaphorically), jack of all master of none, more of a reader less of a writer, arbit philosopher, foolish debater.. and many more such things.. like so many people!

One Response to New Year Celebrations…

  1. ranjeeta says:

    awesome write-up….took me back to my childhood days and the numerous family picnics we went to….indeed times have changed a lot…somewhere the whole idea of celebration has overshadowed the real joy …


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