It was New Year's eve and like millions of people, I too was overjoyed. The very idea of celebrating it on the most happening place of Bangalore i.e. Brigade Road had enthralled me all day. I had heard a lot about Hotel Imperial, which is famous for its Kabab and Ghee Rice and decided to make it to that place with a friend of mine, since it is economical compared to the lavish ones on that locality. Such hotels and eateries are always a respite for students and those in low earning jobs. We decided to jay-walk on Brigade Road upto M G Road and then come back and have dinner at the decided venue. This was at about 8PM and the street was jampacked with little space for air to wriggle. Me and my friend somehow managed to proceed further, me utterly cautious about my cellphone, wallet and my priced possession of 2009 - the digicam. The crowd which was mostly young was drunk, something not so unusual on Brigade Road, especially on a New Year's Eve. On our way towards M G Road was Rex Theater to our left and the poster of the much acclaimed '3 Idiots' grabbed my attention. In less than half a minute, me and my friend were at the ticket counter and soon we had 2 tickets for the movie. It was a 10:15PM show which meant we would be celebrating New Year inside a theatre. Very strange, last year I had celebrated it in Mangalore, riding from a New Year party at a residential locality to Mangalore Club. We moved upto M G Road and then came back to find TV 9 and Times Now news channel covering Brigade Road fun and frill LIVE. The scribe was interviewing few people and as the camera focused over the crowd, they went berserk, with arms stretched upto sky, jumping and dancing with joy.
So far so good. I was pleased to see the crowd and the enthusiasm they carried. Old and young, men and women, youngsters and kids - all were out on streets. Me and my friend made it to Hotel Imperial where we ordered the much talked about Chicken Kabab, Chilly Kabab for starters. It was indeed worth the hype. We concluded with Ghee Rice and started to Rex Theatre straightaway. It was about 9.30PM and things weren't anything different than what we saw an hour ago. I set the reminder to wish my friend Ganesh at 12 in the midnight, whose birthday falls on January 1st. We were now in the theatre, the seating of which did not please me in any way. Perhaps we are so accustomed to watch movies in the multiplexes that we forget this is where we started watching movies from. Behind us was a young couple, in the corner 2 seats of the last row. Ahhem...! The movie began and as Aamir Khan was shown for the first time on screen, the young crowd welcomed with a huge roar, something which goes to show the fame of Aamir Khan in Bollywood. The movie hadn't been through the first 15 minutes and I started getting a call from an unknown number, the code which confirmed it to be an ISD call. I did not receive but soon I got a call from the same number. Fortunes can come anytime, any-day, anywhere. Bearing this in mind, I decided to answer the call and moved out of the theater. To my surprise, it was an elderly gentleman from Kazakhstan, with whom I had developed friendship through a debate forum. I couldn't speak much though, the anxiety of making it back to the theater and also the surprise call from him had caught upon me big time. I then made it back to the theater and continued with the movie. The curiosity of turning back to watch those couple was playing with me, somehow I resisted myself :-)
By 1:15PM the movie was over. I had sent an SMS to my friend wishing him for New Year and his Birthday. It's economical if your friends celebrate their anniversaries on New Year Day, Independence Day, Diwali, Christmas et al. You can use only one call or SMS to wish them on both occasions. I called my friend up and wished him and exchanged a pleasantries as I came out of the theatre. Well... now starts the description of what I wanted to convey through this piece of write-up. Unruly mob welcomed us out of the theatre premises. People were coming upto us and wishing us Happy New Year by way of howling as if this was the last New Year on the planet. Some even contemplated hugging, showing you how much they love you this New Year though they might not even be your distant relatives or aliens. The 'spirit' of New Year had sunk in them and was clearly visible in their behaviour and attitude. Those with their family had a tough time in safeguarding their wives and daughters and other female members of the family. Needless to say that most of the unruly crowd was that of youngsters. Riding and driving was in a 'harrakirri'. Pillion riders managed to stand on the seat and those in the cars had thrown half their body into open air, causing inconvenience to other traffic lane and rules followers. There was a traffic block near Eva Mall and what I saw there was something which I never imagined. A girl who was in her mini-skirt with a guy on his bike became the point of 'contact' for many a ruthless drunkards. People went upto her (and many a girls like her) and deliberately made contact, some even going to the extent of touching thighs, chest and back. There were some who had gathered outside pubs and bars. Later my friend told me that they were waiting for the girls to come out of those places, so that they can establish 'contact' with those girls as well. I almost got hold of a 12-13 year old lad who established 'contact' with a girl's chest who was in an auto, looking for change in her purse or bargaining with the auto-driver for fare. I was fortunate enough not to hold that lad and create a scene, else, I myself would have had to face the brunt of his like-minded 'god(dammned)fathers'. The mob outnumbered the police who did resort to 'lathi-charge' but all in vain. When the police were closing down the shops at about 2AM, several people bought soft-drinks, cigarettes, gutkas, water and fled the place without paying, taking advantage of the hurrying police. Some malls and buildings had arranged for protective nets for their entire edifice to avoid damage by way of stone pelting which gives fun and joy to some animals of Bangalore. We both witnessed this by jay-walking on the footpaths for almost an hour after the movie. But that could have been fatal as drunk & drive was happening even on footpaths. 0.5 stars out of 5 for law & order, though the cops were ruthless on troublemakers.
I only hope from next New Year nowhere including Bangalore are such celebrations witnessed. Brigade Road and M G Road are indeed heaven and there is nothing that you don't get on these streets. But on New Year eve stay away from these places, especially if you are a lone man with the female members of your family or with your girl friend or female colleagues. Be in large groups, preferably in cars (chances of stone pelting are still bright). Avoid pubs and make it to some family restaurants where there is good music and some games. Sooner you are at home, better it is for you. You can have all fun along with safety. No one will come to your rescue as everyone is concerned with their own safety. Last night I realized that Bangalore has a long way to go before calling itself a dignified and sophisticated city and we are no better than the lawless people of certain underdeveloped states. Shame on the IT Capital of India.
Wishing all my friends and readers a Very Happy and a Prosperous New Year. Have a fantastic 2010 with your family. Loka Samastha Sukhino Bhavantu.