Skim the newspaper and you’ll feel the racing pulse of the city as New Year is approaching – ads silently screaming about New Year Eve bash inject adrenalin in youngsters as they polish their dancing shoes all set to groove. I’ve never put on (or even possessed) dancing shoes and am not likely to as I’m tottering towards sixty. So I just read them with a smile on my lips with no regrets whatsoever at what I have been missing all along!
New Year - when I was a child - meant nothing more than a couple of new calendars – loved to look at the red dates in each month and count them or admire the hypnotizing expression and chiseled features of the paintings of gods / goddesses. Another memory is of all of us making a mistake in the year during the first couple of weeks of the New Year whenever we wrote out the date – be it in our school work or dad’s letters / cheques. We still do so.
As I grew into a teenager, my fad was to collect beautiful single page calendars with ‘small’ months’ dates printed under a huge poster of one of my favourite stars – mind you I had a lot of them – from B. Saroja Devi, K.R. Vijaya to Sharmila Tagore, Leena Chandavarkar to Sridevi – heroines all! Mind you, it was more for the poster than for calendar value. Now I care only for 6-page calendars with just the dates of every month. And may be one exotic and exclusive one with half a dozen really attractive posters that deserve to be laminated! I politely turn down other calendars or simply hand it over to willing takers. And I also remember my dad getting a couple of new diaries – appa used one to write his diary – though on some days it would be no more than a line or two. Sometimes I would get one from him – to write down lyrics of film songs or note down interesting quotes from the books read – and I still have them! At times I sit and admire my ancient ‘pearl-like’ handwriting and wonder at my patience during my adolescence (today’s teens, are you listening?) even as I sing those old-times melodies.
I remember my parents once attending a New Year Eve party with my dad’s office folks – it was late night party alright – anyway I’d love to believe it was the New Year Eve. I was 12, my brother 9 and my sister 5. We had our maid to ‘baby-sit’ us at home. What is etched in my memory is the earthquake at midnight that tossed our cots so violently that all three of us and our maid rushed out of the house in panic and sat waiting for our parents on the verandah itself. Needless to add our parents too had felt the tremors and left the party early to rush home.
If you think I would have been excited about parties when I was in the prime of my life, you are mistaken. (Oh so you didn’t – after having read my first paragraph? Sorry, I shouldn’t have suspected your sincerity and concentration!) After my marriage my attitude did not change and my hubby’s was not different from mine. The arrival of our first baby in the second year of our wedding served as an excuse to insistent friends to skip the New Year Eve dance at the Officer’s Institute in the campus as our priority was our child and a couple of years later – our children!
With television invading our homes, thanks to DD, we’d sit up and watch the New Year programs meticulously conceived and presented. A couple of years later Zee TV reached our drawing rooms as also color TV and we were more than happy to lap up the colorful presentations – a feast to the eyes and ears. Soon with more and more channels entering the fray, we were left switching channels and loyalties every 5-10 minutes for a number of reasons trying to have the best bites of every spread. The thrill waned in a few years as programs became lackluster. Or perhaps we got sick of the same stuff over and over again. Still, we’d keep channel-surfing till midnight, greet one another in the building and retire to bed cursing ourselves for having lost our sleep over such insipid and inane programs and swearing to have better sense next year. The process would be repeated the following year with expectation and hope of better programs. Soon even some channels started resorting to movies. With already an overdose of movies on the plethora of channels, we have become satiated. So before long, we started hitting off to bed at the usual 10 pm slot and chose to welcome the New Year early next morning after a rejuvenating sleep.
With advancement, western influence and the resultant change in attitudes, people are not holding their purse strings tight but love to binge. No wonder young couples no longer have qualms of drowning a cool 6000 to 10,000 rupees - if not more - on the New Year bash offering unlimited booze, eats, DJ and live shows, fireworks, poolside shows and what not! With a Mallika Sherawat charging a hot 4 lakhs per stage minute, what else do you expect? Shrewd organizers throw in the added attraction of special Kid’s Zone so couples don’t have guilt pangs about their kids. Some even promise chauffeurs to drive you home to prevent drunken driving – a case of pinching the baby and swinging the cradle?! Some resorts have a special scheme up their sleeve to squeeze more out of your purse – they dangle the carrot of special lazy brunch on New Year – at extra price, of course! Money has lost its value – middle-class mentality of saving for the rainy day is on its way out - but not fully for old-timers like us. Also it is a question of what is enjoyment to us – one person’s heaven is another’s hell! After the bombardment of songs on FM radios and same songs on television, grooving / listening to the same songs at full blast live is not our cup of ice cream. Again unlimited spread doesn’t beckon us any more as we eat limited quantity to be benign to our belly. Nor do we drink!
Now we find our young and not-so-young neighbours animatedly analyzing the various hotspots and happening places in the city. As they plan for the New Year Eve bash at hotels / resorts, they politely invite us also to join in and we politely decline. Such bash is not for teetotalers, vegetarians and senior citizens – and we are in the bracket of the combination of all! We are planning a modest get-together of like-minded friends and ring in the New Year with a little fun and frolic and food!