Hey, all those who are sick and tired of being asked by people how they are partying on New Year's eve, let's do a party. Party of the so-called 'bores' who, for whatever reasons, don't want to go out and paint the town red on 31st December. I'm one of them. I have nothing, in principle, against being four drinks down and not quite remembering which year is starting when the clock strikes twelve, but I have issues with doing this under peer pressure.
There were those good ol' days not many years back, when we would excitedly discuss what would come on television on the night of 31st December. The whole family would huddle together to clap and cheer some not-so-successful film stars who would oblige TV viewers for once, by making an appearance on Doordarshan's new year eve special programme. Usha Uthup, wearing her large bindi and chanting Happy New Year, in her heavy voice, would ring into our years well past midnight.
Usher in the New Year in good faith (Photo: Shutterstock)
Then came the barrage of private TV channels, and they started running the telecast of various film award shows on New Year's eve for vellas like me who wouldn't be out partying. Ab toh shayad woh bhi nahi aata … usually TV channels have some blockbuster film being aired for the 23rd time … just to say …here, take this, losers. If you are that aalsi or anti-social that you prefer sitting in the rajai as the world welcomes the new year, you deserve no more than the dialogues of Chennai Express when the calendar changes dates. Well, theek hai, I'm okay being called anti-social because I'm running out of excuses when I'm faced with the dreaded question. Sample this conversation I had with a colleague the other day:
He: So, what's your plan for the New Year's?
Me: I'll avoid going out. Too much fog on the roads.
He: This time no fog predicted on that evening. Some western disturbances from Rajasthan have blown it away.
Me: Oh, good. But anyway, roads are full of drunk drivers.
He: Our own paper has done stories about how the police is too strict this time to check drunken driving.
Me: Actually, restaurants have too much of waiting … it's as if the whole city is out to eat.
He: Do you want me to book you a table? I have contacts. You must go to a place with live entertainment … that's the whole point of New Year's Eve.
Me: No, thanks. Actually, I've been waiting the whole year to watch if Usha Uthup comes on some channel at midnight.
He: You are quite weird.
Ab stress hoga yah nahi? It's as if you have failed an interview if you don't have a good enough reason for not doing something that the whole world loves. You see, I have nothing against those who love partying and look forward to this break but the problem is with having the same expectations from those who either don't want to, or cannot for some reason, have any party plans. To add to this, here are two sub-stresses:
1. The SMS your wish stress: Come the last few days of December and we get bitten by the SMS bug. Copy, paste, create - do whatever - but the wishes have to be texted to the 1400 contacts in your phone book. It's party time for the telecom service providers because some polite people also diligently respond with a 'Thank you' message after each wish. A friend recently told me about some new Chinese app that lets you send these bulk messages on a discount without them seeming like the kanjoos ones that come through the bulk-sms-websites.
But Chinese … and discounted … what if this app leaves out something from my wish, to cut costs? Health, happiness, prosperity mein se koi ek-aadha be chhoot gaya toh? I'd rather pay extra for the 'right quality' SMSes or make an excuse that I've lost my phone or something. I also once tried the excuse that I don't message anyone because I don't believe in the 'English calendar's New Year'. Someone asked me when the Hindu new year was. I didn't know. Stress.
2. The post your party pics on Facebook stress: Ab New Year's Eve pe bhi Facebook mein kuchh update nahi kiya toh why are you alive, you moron? Everyone will update their party plans, then their party pics, then their hangover pics. If the pics and status show you dancing away in Goa … suddenly you've justified your existence on this planet. If by chance it's Bali or Ibiza instead of Goa … oh boy, you have arrived, and how. The stress of competing with vacation-flaunters is no mean task I tell you.
Himika from my team just told me about this ex-friend of hers (assuming that he'll no longer be a friend after this) who would be under so much stress to post vacation pics on Facebook that he would download some 'touristy' pics of an exotic place like Jamaica from Google, post them with updates on how he's enjoying his vacation, and go underground for a few days. It's only when the photos never showed him - or any other human being for that matter - that someone investigated to find him holed up at home. The poor guy didn't know enough to photoshop himself on those pics. I also once tried faking an exotic vacation pic. Facebook took revenge by showing 'posted from Shakurpur' underneath my 'Frolicking in Venice and loving it' status update. I don't like these social networking sites ever since. Technical blunders, you see.
Anyway, on a serious note -party hard, by all means. But please don't stress others out by badgering them with questions about their plans. If they have plans and want to flaunt them, they would anyway not stop from telling you. What are you wearing, where are you going, how are you spending - kind of questions are conversation starters for most people, without realising that they can put the other one in some kind of complex about not having a 'happening' enough life. Let me suggest an alternate, polite conversation starter to you. How about - 'Is Usha Uthup performing in any TV studios this New Year's Eve?'
Sonal Kalra has decided to holiday in Jamaica, this New Year's Eve. Watch out for the pics. She has learned how to switch off 'location info'.
Mail her at sonal.kalra@­hindustantimes.com or on Facebook at facebook.com/sonalkalra13. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/sonalkalra