In the true spirit of secularity, my friends have embraced Christmas. I suspect most of their secularity comes from just an excuse to celebrate, but I’m not complaining. This past week, I’ve been doing non-stop parties, one for each day of the week before the Big Party on New Year’s Eve.
Evidently, the spirit is catching on. Even Mumbai’s moral police lets up on their rein a little to allow the city to stay out and about till five in the morning on Christmas Eve, Christmas day and New Year’s Eve. We took advantage of that last night --Christmas Eve--when the private party we were at petered out at two in the morning. "Let’s move elsewhere," said my friends and I looked from my watch to them, puzzled, until they told me about this new rule, applicable for three nights only.
Sadly, the flip side is, not everyone had the energy we did. The bar we went into was mostly empty, save a bunch of teenyboppers who bounced around the dance floor. The tables were free (this at one of Mumbai’s more happening nightclubs, where getting standing room sometimes is an issue) and the music--being electronic trance--was just not what we wanted. Still, it was nice to know we had that option open.
What does the rest of the city do while young professionals are dancing the night away? Believe it or not, as we finally headed home at around five in the morning, the roads had traffic on them, even though check-posts for drunk driving had been set up all over the city. What is it about this time of the year that makes you feel more uninhibited? Is it the fact that the year is almost over? Or that the Western media is constantly bombarding you with the idea that you should be feeling jolly? The latter option probably holds true.
I know that around Diwali time, when Indian advertisers are relentless in their need to make you spend! spend! spend! everyone pretty much takes those three or four days mentally off from reality. My own magazine gives us all some time off during Christmas and New Year’s which is very nice of them, because I remember having to work at a newspaper on New Year’s Eve, leaving when it struck midnight, because the pages had to go out. No one was particularly in the mood to work and the office took on a general air of merriment, even as we edited stories and fitted in headlines. I don’t know whether that reflected on the paper the next morning, but even now when I read the papers at some 2 pm on January 1st, I feel for the people who had to actually sit and make them.
But this year, I have holidays, and therefore, in keeping with the feeling of general well-being I offer you some good news.
- If you’re always broke, as I find myself to be frequently, this little
snippet will make you happy. The Reserve Bank Of India is going to make ATM
transactions between banks free, so by April 2009, you can pretty much walk
into any ATM and withdraw money without having to trek to "your bank". Awesome.
- An American GI adopts an Iraqi boy with cerebral palsy whom he met whilst
he was in Baghdad. I’m a hardboiled cynic and I read the story expecting
to roll my eyes but actually, the story is quite sweet and aww-inducing.
- Wow, it’s hard to find good news even on Christmas, but I can only try.
In Peru, the One Laptop Per Child programme is doing excellent things, when
kids who are too poor to be able to afford even pens and pencils are doing
everything with their technological companions, even sleeping
with them at nights.
- And the last piece of good news from this columnist? The Reuters story about busting medical myths. It’s nice to know that we don’t, in fact, only use ten per cent of our brains, reading in dim light won’t make your eyes go bad (take that, Mom!) and shaving your legs won’t make your hair grow back coarser (take that, Beauty Parlour Lady!)
Seasons greetings, from me to you, and see you in 2008!