It is the 4th day of the 1st month of the year, and the whole world has stepped into 2012. This New Years was my first one in Mumbai after 10 years. My husband and I did not have any fancy plans to bring in the new year and decided to just hang out with a couple of our friends at their house. I have been dealing with a bad cold and cough since December 28th and I thought that I would be over and done with it by New Year’s Eve. But did that happen? No!

New Year’s eve rolled around and my sneezing and coughing and whining and irritability (a great recipe for disaster) got worse. By 8 pm I decided to call it quits and retire for the evening. Greatly disappointed with the fact that I would not have a “fun” New Year’s Eve, I resigned to my destiny of going to sleep by 11 pm. I convinced my husband to carry on, and although disgruntled by my lack of energy due to my illness, he went ahead, realizing that it would be more painful for him to be at home with an irritable wife than celebrating new years without her. So there I was, me and my cat, with a bunch of tissues in one hand and a glass of warm water in another, when the phone rang.  It was my neighbor asking me if I wanted to join her for a party that was happening in the compound of our building. I said, “What party?” She said, “The one where all the children of the building have gotten together, collected money from all the tenants, and have organized a New Year’s party loaded with music, games, dinner and cake.” I was intrigued and was not sure if I wanted to hang out with my neighbors and their teenage kids. The last “party” I went to ended up being dead boring because the kids did their own thing and my husband and I were stuck chatting or attempting to chat with the older folk. Anyhow, I relented and never regretted my decision.

10:15 pm, my neighbor and I landed in the building compound and the music was blasting and people were just getting there. There weren’t too many of the building neighbors that showed up, and I was beginning to feel out-of-place hanging out with a bunch of teenagers and their parents. But, as more people got together, the fun and games began full throttle. It was so impressive to see the building kids get together and organize games, which included the adults as well, and also rally people into participating in them. Snacks were served in the first hour and, despite my dead taste buds from my cold, I gorged on chips and coke. Then, as we neared midnight, I was pleasantly surprised when the children brought the “old man” out. He was this tall, well dressed old man, stuffed with tons of fire crackers (which I did not appreciate), and they dragged him outside the compound, threw kerosene on him, and set him ablaze. I wish I had a picture of all the neighbors surrounding the old man, burning the old and welcoming the new. As I watched Old Man 2011 wither in flames, I reflected on my own life in 2011 and how in 1 year, I have gone from living in the USA to India. I gazed into the flames and saw the past year fly by: how our plans for moving to India materialized into reality; I looked back on our attempts to pull ourselves together knowing that with every passing day, we were getting closer to our departure date; how we commiserated with our friends and they with us and how we spent sleepless nights working out the nitty-gritty details of closing an entire chapter of our lives in the USA and opening a whole new one in Mumbai. Time does fly, and here I am in 2012 still trying to get settled in the rigmarole of life in Mumbai.

new year wishes were a plenty among the neighbors who greeted each other, after which dinner was served. Yes, if there is one things to get used to in India, amongst others, is the culture of eating late…..very late. I had my dinner by about 12:30 am. Again, with my dead taste buds, I could relish much, but I am sure it must have been delicious. It was such a nice feeling being with community and gathering with people I had not seen in over 10 years and sharing this moment with them. It was uplifting to see the children of my building taking such initiative to organize and conduct such festivity. I felt blessed.

Here’s hoping that 2012 brings more light, joy, and blessings in my new year in Mumbai and I wish the very same for you, wherever you may live.

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