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Wednesday, January 1, 2020

New Year 2020 revelry ~ is not Jan1, just another day ?

Another year has fleeted past ! ~ 2019 is gone and year 2020 has born.  2020 is a leap year and would it make any changes in your lives ? – is there hope, fear or just no expectations at all !

Years add one more to your age ! – exactly an 100 years ago, occurred ‘First Red Scare’.  The First Red Scare was a period in  the United States marked by a widespread fear of Bolshevism and anarchism, due to real and imagined events; real events included the Russian Revolution and anarchist bombings. At its height in 1919–1920, concerns over the effects of radical political agitation in American society and the alleged spread of communism and anarchism in the American labor movement fuelled a general sense of concern.   The year 1920 also marked the coming into effect of ‘Treaty of Versailles’ that brought the raging  World War I to an end.  It was signed on 28 June 1919 in Versailles, exactly five years after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, which had directly led to the war but took 6 months to come into effect.

This year too there were crowds in Marina beach heralding the New Year 2020 at the drop of midnight.  There were shrills, shrieks, sirens and other sounds.  There wre many fire-crackers too, making one wonder, what the fuss about Deepavali and eco-impact were !  While fireworks exploding over Sydney harbour usually symbolises the start of global New Year festivities for most Brits, it may surprise you to hear that Australia is not the first country in the world to welcome the New Year.

                     New Year is first celebrated on the small Pacific island nations of Tonga, Samoa, and Kiribati. New Zealand follows next in celebrating the New Year, followed by Australia, Japan, and South Korea, while the last place to celebrate New Year is Bakers Island.  The Pacific island of Tonga is first to ring in the New Year and celebrated at 10am GMT on December 31 - making the tiny island nation the first to head into a fresh year.  After travelling all around the world, the New Year eventually comes full circle – or near enough. The last place or places to ring in 2020 will be the tiny outlying islands of the US. Baker Island and Howland Island will see the New Year at 12pm GMT on January 1 – but as it's uninhabited, we tend to forget about it.

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 !! ~ but today’s media showed couple of accidents and some youths arguing with the Police after they were rounded up in the arterial Mount Road for over speeding !  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.  The partying and revelry drops to late or early mornings too.

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 raced towards the finish line of 2019 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.  At many city sabhas, audiences will be treated to freshly brewed filter coffee  and delicious South Indian meals too, not to miss out the bondas. For others, Chennai City Police had  made elaborate arrangements for crowd control and traffic management to tide over New Year celebrations safely. More than 15,000 police personnel were on duty.  This day, I visited D3 Police Stations only to observe that all the Police cops were severely drained, devoid of sleep engaged in patrolling and crowd control for the New Year. 

Hours after ringing in the New Year with much cheer, joy and fireworks, residents of Chennai woke up to a pleasant surprise as heavy rains descended on the city. Around 6 a.m., showers began in several areas of the city - Meteorological department officials said these rains are the result of Northeast monsoon activity and are likely to taper off in a few.

Sadly, we would be reading in newspapers tomorrow of some deaths on city roads arising out New Year revelry.  Down under, furious  Australians have branded Sydney's firework display a 'slap in the face' after organisers decided to go ahead with the world-famous celebration despite wildfires raging across the country.  The multi-million dollar display lit up the night sky over Sydney Harbour on Tuesday night as thousands of locals and tourists flocked to ring in the new decade, but the joy was not shared elsewhere.

Hundreds of bushfires have destroyed dozens of homes in New South Wales and Victoria, killed at least 12 people and left another five missing in Australia's worst summer season in decades.  Witnessing the fireworks amid the devastation, one person tweeted: 'My parents are without power, their town is cut off, and the southerly is blowing another fire towards them. A fireworks show feels like a huge slap in the face.' Another added: 'Members of my family are spending tonight huddled together on a boat ramp waiting while bushfires bear down, and our PM is throwing a party.'  Sydney went ahead with its New Year firework display despite calls for it to be cancelled amid wildfires raging across the country.

4,000 people got trapped on a beach in the town of Mallacoota, in Victoria state, after being surrounded by out-of-control bushfires which turned the sky blood red.  As the city's famous skyline was lit up with colourful pyrotechnics, thousands remained trapped on a beach in the coastal town of Mallacoota amid apocalyptic scenes after getting surrounded by raging bushfires.  Responding to calls to cancel the event and reallocate the funding to fire-affected regions, Sydney mayor Clover Moore said planning for the fireworks began 15 months ago and most of the budget had already been allocated. The event was also a boost to New South Wales' economy. Moore added that people viewing the fireworks around the harbour will see a donation link projected onto the Sydney Harbour Bridge pylons throughout the night. Meanwhile, haunting pictures from Mallacoota show how the sky turned blood red as smoke from nearby fires shrouded the sun and reduced visibility to just a few yards. Witnesses told how ash and embers were raining from the skies accompanied by a deafening roar from the flames, while the sound of exploding gas canisters could be heard in the distance as the fires closed in. 

Is not New Year just another day ?

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
1st Jan 2020.

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