Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Happy New Year?

I spent my New Year's Eve and New Year jamming with a new-found friend. He's crazy about music, so we spent both days, all days, jamming. It felt good to play after so long, and it gave me a sense of satisfaction, knowing I had 'opened' the New Year doing what I love.

And that's how I prefer it. Quiet. I don't see why people have to go dancing in the streets. I don't see why they HAVE to wish every stranger they see. I don't see why they have to yell 'Happy New Year' to television cameras while riding in 4's on a bike. I don't see why drinking becomes the point of the entire night, when it only makes sense to be sober to 'enjoy' the celebrations anyway.

That's for the world.

Now India.

This 'New Year' thing, just like 'Valentine's Day', 'Father's Day', 'Mother's Day' and 'what-not' day is new. We see huge media coverage and an equally huge build-up a month before the day. We see stores offering discounts, although this makes some sense (clearing stock before the end of the year, etc). And yet, this is all fairly new. I'm trying to go back 10 years, trying to remember the New Year 'celebrations', and I can't recall anything even remotely similar. People greeted the New Year the way they would any other day. Our wonderful friends from the West, and even more friends from cable TV brought the 'Let's get wild on New Year's Eve' idea over, and we Indians, being as awed as we are of anything 'white', swallowed the whole thing with gusto. The result? Our celebrations can match (maybe not the grandeur), but the intensity of any other city around the world.

I came in to work on the 2nd, and lost count of the number of people shaking my hand and saying 'Happy New Year'. What's so happy about it? Take India first. The poor are still as poor as they were on the 31st of December. Our politicians are as corrupt, if not more so. And the world? Iraqis must be having a beautiful New Year. We mustn't forget to wish the mothers whose sons 'disappeared'. We mustn't forget to wish the children who lost their family. It must be a FABULOUS New Year for them.

It's sad. Anyone who goes around wishing the other without reason does so without any thought. If a New Year is supposed to bring us some change for the better, starting it off as blindly as we do today doesn't offer us much hope.

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