Mumbai: Most youngsters started house parties as early as 7 pm on New Year's eve, keen to extract the most from what remained of the day, before curfew restrictions kicked in from 11 pm to 6 am.
But for once they were not dancing and partying in pubs, clubs and restaurants as if there is no tomorrow. Rather, it was a mellowed and muted outpouring with close family members or friends -- who were part of the ‘bubble, -- either in the sitting room or in the terrace, if they had one.
Says Dhiraj Naik, a 24-year-old engineer from Dadar, "We began partying at home with just five to six friends 7 pm onwards, so that we could finish early. We stepped outdoors briefly to buy alcohol and food but found police personnel prowling all over. We had hoped to replenish our supplies but post 9 pm wine shops were shut."
Daniela Musquita, a 29-year-old dancer from Bandra, said, "I had a small barbecue party with family members and friends in the backyard of my house. We kept the music low key, so as not to attract undue police attention. But the very idea on a new year’s eve is to go bonkers with music. Nonetheless, I got to meet a few people close to me whom I had not met during the nine months of lockdown. It was reunion of sortsmand that added to the fun.’’
Party hopping and road trips also went for a toss. Most sore were the night owls, more so since Mumbai is the only city which has a worthwhile night life. Oindrilla Chakraborty, a 21-year-old blogger, said, "I could not go party hopping with friends because police was dissuading us from moving in large groups. I returned home at 11 pm – the earliest ever -- from a friend's house and watched a new series online."
The tradition of burning the Old Man, which is a way of saying goodbye to the old year and welcoming the new, was celebrated within communities and societies. Yasir Shaikh, a 31-year-old youth group leader from Jogeshwari, said, "We had a tradition of performing the annual ritual at the stroke of midnight with all members of the society and some from neighbouring areas. But, this year, we wore masks and did the honours before 10 pm."
Umesh Shetty, who owns a fast food joint at Borivali west, said, "We were swamped with food delivery orders between 5 pm and 9 pm. But after that, there was just a trickle." Nikita Shah, a 25-year-old communication manager from Charni Road said, "Since everyone has been working from home, we had an online New Year's party for our colleagues in the evening. Also, we cooked home meals and had pot luck for dinner with close family members."
Several healthcare workers, who have been in the forefront since the corona outbreak, wanted to celebrate New Year, now that the cases have diminished. But the covid-19 norms prevented them from doing so. Others were weighed down by the fatalities they have witnessed. “Currently all health workers are in a holiday mood and most of them have accumulated casual leave; still no one is in a mood to celebrate. So, we have all decided to organise a small party after two months, when things return to normal,” said Dr Vidya Thakur, medical superintendent, Rajawadi Hospital.