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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Welcome New Year 2015 - celebrate, party, enjoy - in a saner way !!!

Just a day to go - it is time to rollick and celebrate.  Before we (in India) could do that people of Kiribati would be enjoying.  The New Year celebrations around the World are far varied and widespread.  In Australia spectacular New Year Eve fireworks are burst. Many other countries plan  massive pyrotechnic displays.  People venture to islands, go for sky walk,  para-glide,  plan their party in Ships, night time bash in star hotels charging differently for couple and stags and champagne might flow unabated, hearing DJs blare favourtie tunes,  dance floors with celebrities,  ..  Revelries, dance, consuming whatever one desires, being with whomsoever they adore, making merry – all are individual’s wish and reach.  In many apartments, people get together to enjoy food, music and friendship.   Enjoy and make merry – it is individual desire and way of reacting to events.

Love it or hate it, many people  feel compelled to count in the New Year at midnight, whether celebrating at a party or freezing outside watching fireworks.  In the Gregorian calendar, New Year's Eve , is on December 31. In many countries, celebrations generally go on past midnight into January 1 (New Year's Day). The island nations of Kiribati and Samoa are the first to welcome the New Year while Honolulu, Hawaii is among the last. Vaanam  movie’s  story revolved around the lives of five individuals from different walks of life. Cable Raja (Silambarasan) living in a slum bemoans his poverty and wishes to become rich by marrying his girlfriend Priya (Jasmin Bhasin). He cons her into believing he is well off, and adopts a well-bred persona in front of her. When he is asked by Priya to buy high-priced passes to a New Year's Eve gala, he finds himself severely short of money. After a failed attempt at chain snatching and crossing paths with the police, he heads to a hospital with theft on his mind……..

Let 2015 unleash a million reasons to smile!  In one posh hotel in the City, the  New Year extravaganza offers beverages - Whisky - Chivas Regal 12 years and Ballantine's; Vodka – Absolut; Rum – Bacardi; Red Wine - Jacob's Creek Cabernet Shiraz – all for an early bird couple price of Rs.7999/- only – there are hundreds of restaurants in Chennai city itself and all of them could be full !  On  New Year eve, the average Briton calls it a night at 01:38am, people in Russia party through the night and stay up the latest in the world, according to data gathered from hundreds of thousands of Jawbone Up wearers.  Last year, as  Britain celebrated the beginning of 2014, pictures taken revealed  many  woken with a very sore head next morning and some may even had to sleep in a police cell or a hospital bed. From Swansea to Manchester, Birmingham to London, and Liverpool to Newcastle, partygoers were drunk and dishevelled as they spilled out of bars, clubs and parties and onto the streets last night.  And in some instances they ended up on the wrong side of the law, with Scotland Yard revealing that 100 people were arrested for drunken, violent or sexual crimes during the celebrations in central London. Meanwhile Ambulance trusts said they received one phone call every 15 seconds that  night as they dealt with the results of excessive drinking.  It was worried that alcohol  abuse is increasing more rapidly among young women in Britain than anywhere else in the Western world. Twice as many women from 18 to 24 as men are drinking at danger level or above. As a result, official figures show an alarming increase in the number of young women developing serious liver disease.

Chennai is no different – the Buhari hotel would get spruced  up for the late night bash –at  midnight, group of youth would gather on roads, drink, drive crazily, shout and  disturb, annoy, rattle, enrage and even cause harm to others……….  What is this about and what would this merriment provide to any body ?  Everybody knows that drunken driving causes majority of accidents during New Year Eve and most claims are viewed with suspicion by the Insurers when they are reported closer to New Year.  The City Police keeps a big patrol on road.  Nearly 10,000 police personnel would be deployed on security duty for New year celebrations in the city.  A couple of years back unsavoury incidents took place in Mumbai beach on New year Eve ~ sure most of us have forgotten.

As  large number of people would throng the beach front, traffic restrictions and changes would be imposed in the Marina and East Coast Road, the favourites spots for the revelleries. Beach road, Marina beach, Elliots beach, ECR, Mount road are some of the places where some incidents and some accidents get reported every year.   Besides the road accidents, Chennaites should remember the grisly incident at a famous hotel a couple of years ago.  On that fateful day, the makeshift dance floor on swimming pool collapsed killing 3 of the revellers and injuring few more.  The year before last,  five fatal accidents and 22 non-fatal ones were reported from across the city.  Police had to be lenient and were not booking people for over-speeding or drunken driving – thousands of cops were on the streets – but are not human lives and limbs precious.. are there not better ways of ushering in and celebrating New Year.

A few decades ago, New Year would usher in with hundreds of ‘Greeting Cards’ personally written wishes from relatives and friends that would make one happy.  That was the time when people thronged Post Offices for Post cards, Inland letters and covers – are they still in use ? – then e-mail took over ; now even sending e-mail is considered old-fashioned in the era of Facebook, twitter and other medias.  How many of us know the price of a Post card or Inland leter…

So, Welcome the New Year 2015 – enjoy and make merry – be cautious on thy self and care for others also.  On Jan 1, 2014, as I walked in Marina beach in the morning – saw this bike, parked ….. nothing amiss and perhaps some people would not have watched it at all……  ~ a closer look – would reveal – it is parked on the wrong side – is damaged and is left unattended  – most probably its rider was drunk, drove wild, caused an accident, injured himself, perhaps injured somebody else too…… could have been hospitalized – not knowing where the vehicle presently is and perhaps for some more hours none would care for….

If you felt this post to be too cynical…. You must read this report in The Hindu, Chennai edition last year  too before deciding ……………. - After two years of fatality-free New Year celebrations, the city and its suburbs witnessed five deaths in road accidents on New Year’s eve on Tuesday. Rash driving proved fatal for some of the revellers. P. Ramprasad (19), an engineering student, died after his bike rammed a lorry on the Sardar Patel Road flyover. He and his friend Saravanan, who was riding pillion, were headed to Besant Nagar beach. While Ramprasad died on the spot, Saravanan sustained injuries. In another accident, Ramanarayanan (42), an employee at a hotel in M.K.B. Nagar, died after the two-wheeler he was riding was knocked down by a lorry near Basin Bridge. He was on his way to Washermenpet to celebrate New Year with his friends. Lorry driver Muthuvel (32) was arrested and remanded. The accidents on New Year’s eve kept the staff at government hospitals on their toes. The casualty ward of Rajiv GandhiGovernment General Hospital received a total of 69 cases since midnight.

Every New year spells trouble for the Police and law-abiding citizens. In the melee, Police are lenient and generally do not book  people for over-speeding or drunken driving – more than 18000 cops were on the streets – Are  not human lives and limbs precious.. are there not better ways of  celebrating the  New Year. Is there real need for continuing the legacy of the colonial rule ?

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

30th Dec 2014.

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