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Tuesday, January 1, 2019

1st Jan is another day ! ~ welcome New Year 2019 in a saner way

When I say, 1st Jan is just another day and that New Year should be welcomed in a saner way ! ~ many are likely to frown .. .. yet, I have been witnessing disturbing trends over the past decade or so ..   – tomorrow when I walk on beach road, certainly I do not want to see another mangled bike .. .. accident by a tipsy nervy youth !!

At the time of posting this @ 11pm on 31.12.2018 - Hong Kong, Sydney, Auckland and even North Korea's capital Pyongyang have all held extravagant celebrations to make sure 2019 arrived with a bang. Festive lights decorated Hong Kong's iconic skyscrapers as they provided the backdrop for a fireworks, music and light show over Victoria Harbor where some 300,000 people had gathered on New Year's Eve. New Year's Eve is not widely celebrated in mainland China, where the lunar New Year in February is a more important holiday, but countdown events were being held in most major cities, including Beijing and Shanghai. Earlier today, thousands filled a main square in Pyongyang, North Korea, where dictator Kim Jong-un appears to have spared no expense to ring in the new year as footage shows fireworks in the shape of digits being launched into the sky to count down to midnight.

North Korea and Japan joined Australia and New Zealand in welcoming 2019, where millions gathered to watch spectacular firework displays in cities like Sydney and Auckland.  The party atmosphere is now set to sweep across major cities in Asia, Europe, Africa and the Americas as the world celebrates a new year. 

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).

Fireworks displays are being tweaked and partygoers are taking up position as Australia prepared to bring in 2019  with a bang.  At Melbourne and at Sydney  tonnes of fireworks were launched from the top of  city buildings for New Year's Eve festivities.  Back home in Chennai ~ let another year  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.39999/- only – there are hundreds of restaurants in Chennai city itself and all of them could be full !

Last year, as  Britain celebrated the beginning of the year, 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 100s of  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.

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 anybody ?  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 15,000 police personnel are to 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.

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…

As the city races towards the finish line of 2018 on a musical high from Margazhi, sabhas are busy putting together their own itineraries to welcome the New Year in a way that will be memorable. For the last 18 years, Carnatica Brothers Shashikiran and Ganesh have been organising a New Year’s eve concert that sees close to 60 artists participating, and hundreds of rasikas attending. The concert, which is one of the city’s most prominent, as part of the music season, will take place at the Vedanta Desika Hall in Mylapore this year. The event, which is free for audiences, will begin at 9pm on December 31 and go on till 2.30am on January 1, 2019. Musicians such as Malladi Brothers, Neyveli Santhanagopalan, Gayathri Girish and Vasudha Ravi will be performing. When the clock strikes 12, they will render popular prayer songs such as ‘EndaroMahanubhava’, ‘MaithreemBhajatha’ or ‘Shanthi Nilava Vendum’ for universal peace. Audiences will be treated to freshly brewed masala chai and Pongal through the night and can also interact with their favourite musicians, promises Shashikiran.

At what could resemble a battle front on beach road and elsewhere, City police has made elaborate arrangements for crowd control and traffic management to tide over New Year celebrations safely. More than 15,000 police personnel will be on duty, manning 368 checkpoints and 25 patrol teams. The department will use CCTV cameras, drones and watch towers to monitor places that see large crowds. Marina and Elliot’s beaches attract thousands of people on New Year’s eve. Patrol teams will pay special attention to women and minors, a police source said. Eve-teasers will be punished severely, an officer added. On Marina and Elliot’s beaches, the police have set up temporary shelters to monitor celebrations.

All vehicles proceeding to East Coast Road will be checked for traffic violations. There are several resorts at Kottivakkam, Palavakkam and Neelankarai on ECR where gala parties are hosted on New Year’s eve. Barricades have been placed at many spots on the stretch to deter speeding. Hangout spots such as malls, recreational centres, shopping hubs such as T Nagar and Sowcarpet, and places of worship will have elaborate security arrangements. Checkposts have been set up to screen vehicles entering from other states.

Every year many  fatal accidents  get reported in the city saysd Chennai city police.  Last year  City police seemingly had  a solution to curb overspeeding and drunk driving on city roads on during New Year eve - a menace that endangers lives of riders and public every year. The top brass of the city police has informed that details of traffic violators on New Year's eve will be kept in the commissioner's office and if the violator applies for passport, police "No objection Certificate" (NOC) will be denied.Public are supposed to use service lanes under the flyovers,” the officer added. 

So, Welcome the English  New Year 2019 – enjoy and make merry – be cautious on thy self and care for others also.  Every New year the brash celebrations,  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 –– 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
31st Dec 2018 @ 11 pm.

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