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   When people ask me where I am going for the New Year... (December 29, 1987)

When people ask me where I am going for the New Year, I do not know what to say.

Obviously I am not going to the Oberoi or Taj (or, rather, to the Taj or Oberoi), I cannot afford them and even if I could, I do not like the idea of starting a new year in a five star restaurant of a five star hotel. I am satisfied with reading the advertisements and amusing myself finding out which hotel is having which belly-dancer, ghazal singer and auctioneer.

And I cannot say I am going to one of those all night shows, graced by film stars shows, graced by film stars who never turn up, and programme of skits (which are worse than even those shown on Doordarshan, channel II), song and-dance, mimicry etc. I cannot sit up whole night, and, in any case, to attend one of these programmes you have to buy tickets weeks in advance and organise thing and go to the hall early so that somebody else may not occupy your seat and refuse to leave. Also, after you have seen bottoms Up three times, you have seen all all-star, all-nite, variety programmes.

In the old days, one could always say one was going to the cinema on New Year’s Eve, probably to see Errol Flynn in Captain Blood, or Douglas Fairbanks Jr. in The Black Swan. But, these days, to go to a cinema on New Year’s Eve is to admit that you have nothing else to do. Also, they do not show those kinds of films any more.

I can always say I am going out of Bombay, ushering in the New Year in Mahableshwar or Lonavala or somewhere. But people have a way of finding out you did not go to Mahableshwar or Lonavla. And there is no question of actually going, because all the hotels are booked, and, if you want to go to Fariyas for the 1988-89 New Year, you have to book tomorrow…latest.

I could go to a terrace party. Everybody is going to a terrace party, in fact people keep telling me they have been invited to dozens of terrace parties. A terrace party is one where you have to climb up five dirty stairs to reach the terrace, since either there is no lift or the lift is not working. Upstairs, it is very cold and windy, a few string of coloured lights, loud music from a two-in-one or a three in-one. You put your pint of scotch on a table alongside other people’s bottles of IMFL and country brews, and end up drinking the IMFL.

No, I cannot say I going to a terrace party.

I could go to a private party. But the odd thing is that though I get invited to private all the year round, I never get invited to a private party for the New Year.

I could, no doubt, always go to the Gateway of India and bring in the New Year among much merriment of blowing whistles, dancing in the streets, thumping on the tops of cars and wishing a happy new year to strangers. But I think I will skip that.

Instead, I will stay at home, go to bed early in the old year, get up early in the new year, bright and fresh and without a hangover.

 
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