Thursday, January 13, 2011

Happy New Year

I’d love to recount a tale of how I saw out the old year and in the new in exotic style but I didn’t so I can’t. The march into 2011 this year was marked in Delhi, striding around the city in search of some festivities to mark the occasion - Hindus don‘t celebrate Christmas Day but there seemed to be much chatter about New Year‘s Eve. Connaught Square, we were assured, was the place to be when the clock struck twelve. Clearly it must have been 12 noon because with some thirty minutes to go to 2011, there was no crowd in spite of a heavy police presence who’d obviously turned up expecting a party as well.
Beer was also at a premium. Never the easiest commodity to lay your hands on in India, things were worse, much worse on NYE. The only wine and beer shop we were familiar with close to Pahar Ganj had its doors shut early. Strolling past a shop minutes later, somewhat miraculously we spotted some beer. I asked the shopkeeper if he had any beer and was told that he had copious amounts of alcohol in stock so I ordered myself four bottles of Kingfisher which our friendly shopkeeper seemed in too much of a haste to wrap up in newspaper and place lovingly into my bag for me. The price - 60 INR - also seemed a little too low, given the demand for booze on this most auspicious of nights and so I checked out the labels. Sure enough he put 4 bottles of what were hastily labelled ‘Kingfarmer’ into my bag, each of which had an alcohol content of exactly 0.0% and each of them bearing a passing resemblance to Kingfisher bottles. His weak reply of “But they taste good” didn’t wash and so we headed off, trying to convince ourselves that an alcohol free 2011 was the way to go.
Nothing happening in Connaught Square, we returned to Pahar Ganj with the clock ticking towards midnight. But not a celebration in sight. No fireworks. No crowds. No party. No countdown. We made our way into a café which was indeed selling genuine Kingfisher beer and we had our own little countdown into 2011. Happy New Year.

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