Article Published in THE HINDUSTAN TIMES

Same to you!

Navtej Sarna

HARDLY had we recovered from the ravages of its previous visitation than the new year is upon us again. It has been creeping in, slowly and deceptively and ever since Diwali went by, the wise have been constantly looking over their shoulders and shuddering at the thought of each passing day. And now, in a sudden rush, it is here and we had just begun to enjoy ourselves.

The order of the day is the making of lists. Lists of people to whom greeting cards have to be sent, lists of parties to be thrown or attended, lists of plans for next year (resolutions are definitely out of fashion this year). The greeting card list is the most exhausting. Every day with toothbrush in hand and a preoccupied look in the eyes, I mentally tick off, add and subtract names. The resulting list begins with the name of those to whom I “simply must send cards”. Most of these names have been there for years but are yet to receive a card from me. I classify them broadly as “old favorites.”

Add to that a list of friends and then a list of “contacts” – “useful chaps, newer know when you need them”. When it comes to the buying of the cards one always finds that they are so expensive this year. The old favourites do not stand a chance (“After all I haven’t seen them in years”). And in any case one should not be sending just greeting cards to good friends: “I’ll write him a nice long letter”. The “contacts” meet a similar fate with: “I did send him a diwali card.” Ultimately some cards do trickle in from some recent acquaintances who still have my visiting card in their top drawer and some from people who for some reason have always thought me one helluva guy. Nice chaps you will agree and so I sit down and reply to all their needs.

The year that is passing will not go out with a whimper. It has a sting to its tail and it will show it. So it raises its balloon-decked head and make the ringing in of the new year a painful problem. It becomes difficult to decide the place where I shall be seen making a fool of myself with a little cap at a jaunty angle (“oh, so cute”) and enough streamers to trip over.

Each year I think I have this well in control by choosing well in advance the gathering I plan to enchant. The new year when it chances by shall find me vivaciously waving it in by a blazing bonfire. Predictably that party never comes to be. The host apologises at a twelve hour notice. Clutching at straws, I send up saying: “Sure, I’m coming” to four prospective hosts and the enchanted hour finds me gate-crashing into a stranger’s party. It’s all part of the fun, I guess.

Thereafter it should all be smooth sailing. It would be but for the fact that for at least one week after the big day, one is supposed to go around Delhi, chanting New Year among the sun and the flowers and the asphalt. Passing strangers get it, bus conductors get it as do unsuspecting beings on the phone who should rightly be getting “wrong number.”

Finally its all over though at times it brings one close to contemplating comparative methods of suicide. The jangled nerves will be just about ready by next winter.