Wish you all a very Happy New Year! Its going to be an amazing year and decade ahead for each one of us!
During this time of the year, the most stressful question one has to answer a few days before New Year’s eve is "What are you doing for New Years eve?". The response to this question will depend on how eagerly you are looking forward to let go off the old (year) and embrace the new (year). And as the flashback on the events of the past year unfolds on your mind, you are not sure whether it was indeed a good year or a bad year for you. This dilemma actually inhibits you from deciding how to celebrate the New Year’s eve and your bland response ends up being "Let’s see. Nothing planned for now."
In the past decade, if i try to remember how i spent my New Years eve, i don't recall all the December 31sts. Of these, I have spent about 6 New Year eve’s abroad – in US, UK and Norway.
Some of the ones i remember are like the eve of 2004-05, which was my first New Year celebrated abroad. I was in US then and me and a couple of friends had rented cars with our newly acquired US Drivers License and had driven down to Atlantic City in New Jersey to gamble away to glory. I don't remember losing a lot of money - maybe USD 20, but the experience of driving through the night with the headlights of trailing cars flashing on your eyes through the rear view mirror of your car is still fresh in my mind. When the headlight of a trailing car hits your eyes through the mirror, the ability to concentrate on your own driving becomes difficult. I was trying to dodge the light from coming onto my eyes by doing all that i could - modifying the angle of the rear view mirror, adjusting my seating position or using a cap to smartly dodge out that flash of light - but ultimately a combination of all of this helped. Still the glare caused some strain on my eyes. In the end, there were no untoward incidences and we ended up enjoying a lot from this long night drive.
The New Years eve of 2005-06, had been to New York city with my friends to watch the crystal ball drop. We had driven down from Hartford to New Haven train station, parked our cars and got into a train to reach New York in two hours. Once there, walked down to Times Square to watch the crystal ball drop – apparently a very big event in the US to celebrate New Year. It was so crowded that we were many avenues behind the actual Times Square, which was full of people to watch this event since 11 am in the morning. Glad we weren’t so desperate and started bearing the torture of being pushed around in crowds from 8pm only. There were a group of desi folks around us and we all were screaming out hindi songs aloud and breaking into a jig now and then. The police was interestingly, patrolling in horses as its easier to penetrate through thick crowds of people. Women whom you would never meet were blowing kisses in the air – wish you New Years. Once the clock struck 12, we were able to see some light, some pieces flying into the air from the center of Times Square and were happy to be atleast some part of this event at least once in our lifetimes.
The New Years eve of 2007-08 was the one where I had no job left as I had put down my papers with Infosys while in the US in December first week. I had put down my papers to do my MBA from SPJIMR, a dream which was now turning into reality after grinding it out professionally for five and a half years post my Engineering degree. Struggled to buy a one way ticket back to India, as my company was not willing to pay my travel back to India. Finally got this Air India ticket for USD 900 (the cheapest of them all) to fly back to India. Took a stopover in UK for about a week and ended up celebrating the New Year’s Eve with my sister, brother in law and family in London. Played some games like dumb charades, had a few swigs of vodka, saw the fireworks on river Thames, being broadcasted live on TV and thereby ushered in the New Year. A New Year when I had switched gears from being an employee to being a business school student. Also a year, when I met my partner for life.
The New Years eve of 2008-09 was going to be one of the last ones of being single. So me and my wife (fiancé then), decided to spend New Years at our own houses with family in India. Guess we ended up speaking over the phone as the clock struck 12 and then wishing our families for New Years.
Did spend two New Years eve in Norway – the one from 2009-10 and 2010-11. Both the New Years, unfortunately had to spend as a “forced bachelor” as wifey was in India. In 2009-10, had been to watch the fireworks on Aker Brygge (the Marine Drive of Oslo) at Oslo, with couple of friends, but it became eventful, before we saw the fireworks. It was eventful in a way because one of the TCS colleagues and her husband had lost their laptop and all valuables. We ended up spending sometime logging police complaints, letting key people know over phone. When matters were resolved and support structures put in place, me and my friends went to Aker Brygge. Never have I seen so much of crowd in Norway. Almost the entire country was out on the streets and heading to Aker Brygge to watch the fireworks. This is an event pretty rare in a country of the size of 5 Million and left me happy to see so many people. We were stranded somewhere between National Theater tube station and Aker Brygge as it was jam packed, with people from all age groups eagerly looking towards the sky ahead. There were fireworks being lit even around us and it was shocking to see all safety norms being violated! We dodged quiet a few rockets and other fireworks which were being lit by people in inebriated state, behind our backs. There were also these group of young women, who wished us New Years and quickly broke into a Bollywood song jig once they got to know we are Indians. They apparently were fans of Salman Khan and were singing one of his dhinchak songs during the jig in a thick Norwegian-English accent. Real sweet.
New Years eve of 2010-11 was invited for two parties. I politely declined both as I just felt like being with myself. I was chided enough by my wifey and sister of being selfish enough to spend it with myself, than with friends. Somehow, wanted to ensure, this time that I have an opportunity to be with myself, why not do that? Have dodged enough of car trail lights, enjoyed the “Crystal Ball” in New York, fireworks in Oslo or spent with family. Don’t know if this is an after effect of staying in a quiet place like Stavanger, or the effect of me turning 30 this year and getting more calmer with things or for the fact that I had taken an important decision today after weeks of pondering over? Started my celebrations with a movie marathon and saw only one movie – “The American” starring Georg Clooney. Had three swigs of Black Label and a wonderfully cooked meal of pulao and raita. After wishing family over phone, saw some of the fireworks from my balcony. Quickly also introspected the turn of events in my life in the last decade, thanked god and hoped for the best in the next decade. And while i was celebrating the loneliness with 3 swigs of black label, food and movies there came my friends to my apartment at 12.30 am to cheer me up. We eventually ended up listening to good old music, having conversations, laughs, tequila shots till wee hours of the morning - 5.30 am! Thanks guys - Ragish, Raghu, Maju, Namesh, Reba for bringing in somelife into this apartment here! We should do this more often!
Don’t know whats the plan for next New Year’s eve or what happened on the eve of other New Year eves not described above. This just goes to show that unless you have a “happening New Year” spending with friends / family – there is nothing much to write home about. I am sure the next New Years eve is going to amazing and even better than the last two and will be with family!