Alone at New Year 

Aditi Srivastava

© Copyright 2018 by Aditi Srivastava


Photo of a sad girl from India.

It was 22:00 when I was done dressing up for New Year’s Eve party. I started dressing up at 21:56 and was done by 22:00. This was the exact time my new year started to screw up. So, the situation was that that our hostel’s owner collected 100 Rupees from every girl who couldn’t make it to their home this New Year’s Eve. I also contributed for the pity party. At that time I thought something is better than nothing.

Well, I was dressed up, I put on a sweet looking beanie, not only because it matched with my clothes but also because I didn’t wanted to comb my hair. My roommate and I went downstairs (at the party venue) and were asked to have dinner, which they shouldn’t have prepared, even for a person dying from hunger (because it definitely not good to be cursed by dying person).

We were handed over gymnastic thermocol plates, which were just flaunting their flexibility every time we filled them with different dishes. Finally, we handled our plates with care and I found it funny because the same precautions are taken with china plates but the only difference is china dish can batter and those plates could splatter. We both found a decent place to sit and have dinner. We were served “daalbatichoorma”. It’s a famous Rajasthani Indian dish. It’s a combination of 3 different dishes made from pulses, wheat and other stuff. The good and the bad thing was that I was trying that dish for the first time so I didn’t have any frame of reference. For further description I should tell you that in Hindi “Choorma” means something crumbled and “Bati” means a bar or an edible ball. So, we placed our ‘touch me not’ plates on the hammock couch type of thing (yes, that was a decent place I mentioned) and tried to figure out what to eat because 50% of our food was improperly cooked and 20% of it was burnt. Actually, only the Bati was burnt from outside… and uncooked from inside. So we had to crumble the bati to find properly cooked fractions. Also our mess’s chef reinvented choorma , he gathered choorma crumbs and made small balls out of it .So, by the end of dinner bati became choorma and chhorma was intact as bati. Well, choorma is still on my desk all intact and even though I am a food science student I cannot figure out why is it blackish instead of wheatish. After all, I concluded that something can be better than nothing but “anything” can be worse than nothing.

After dinner, sorry, after throwing our plates away we both took our seats, actually it’s a communal bench for around 5 people, so that we could watch the performances prepared by a few girls. I didn’t get the purpose of the performances. The girls danced for at most 1 minute and they showed one of their best moves repeatedly and left the performance abruptly like they were handing over practical visiting cards saying” This is how I dance, if you want more of it please contact me, you’ll be charged for the remaining performance”. I am not being a critic but being a trained classical dancer it was hard to see a performance like that. Strangely, a boy of about 14 entered to perform (yes it was strange because I live in a girl’s hostel). He danced on a very feminine song and really rocked the floor. He was some girl’s younger brother from our hostel and it was nice to have him there. All performances hardly took 10 minutes to be over and it took whole evening for me to get over them.

After all carelessly prepared dinner and performances, we both returned to our room talked a bit (criticized party a bit) and in no time it was 12:00am. Somewhere between crackers bursting, people shouting, songs playing, phones ringing, we quietly wished happy new year to each other. And then a funny thing happened, I accidently mistyped “Happy new tear 2018”to my best friend which ironically suited my situation as I started my new year with a half filled gut and curse words on my mouth(for party). However, I video-called my parents, who were celebrating the new year with our relatives, and wished them happy new year and wished I were there.

Ideally, I should have gotten up and partied late night but guys please, I’ve got reasons to get up early. I had to go to college early morning. Clearly, not the “reason” I chose for myself. In India there are lots of festivals and special occasions so almost no organisation grants holiday on the first day of the year. Being Indian I have punctuality issues and hence in the honour of the first day of the year I decided to reach right on time which was 8:00am. So, I woke up at 7:30 am freshened myself up, dashed to college and reached right at 8..past 8. Now, I will cut the long story short, so in nutshell, it was 8:08 am, 7*C (felt like 3*C) and heavy fog. Only a few students were there to take class. And it turned out that the teacher had no inkling that his class was scheduled. I rocked back and forth between my college and hostel thrice that day. After such futile hustle I proclaimed my new year as a screw up.

Since morning I was noticing that one of my college friends was despondent about something. I deliberately asked for a lift towards my hostel from her and tried to find out why she was entering my “wrecked new year” category. I understood her dilemma and counselled her for 15-20 minutes while ignoring guard’s eyes which were hitched on us for a long time. Eventually, she was much better than before. And not only her I was also feeling good for the first time in last 12 hours. After saying good-bye to her I rolled to my room and watched 4 episodes of F.R.I.E.N.D.S right away. Amid of watching episodes I developed immense chocolate craving which propelled me to step out from my hostel. As soon as I stepped out, every body cell peeping out from my clothes turned icy. To animate my nerves I decided to be accompanied by a large cup of coffee. I traversed 1 km to reach a nice restaurant on foot and ordered a hot cup of coffee and an Indian snack “Dhokla”. I desperately rummaged through the hall but couldn’t find any table in isolation. Extol the new year’s spree! With no options left I settled myself facing a nuclear family binging on snacks. And the spasmodic silence of the family made my anxiety buzzed brain order me to devour my snack in a tick. I scooted out of the restaurant as soon as possible.

The cup of coffee was still accompanying me and I decided not to spend my new year in 11ft/12ft room. So, I turned the direction of my feet towards nearby mall. SRK mall is a very large hole acquired by someone who installed strictly three high-end shopping centres without realising that 98% people will only window shop…if they ever step in. this mall has always been ceaselessly godforsaken but extol new year’s spree! Gregarious atmosphere pulled morbid mall back to life but still “congested” word would be too good for the mall. If I describe it, I would say if I had shouted in there, at most 3 people would surely have heard me. 2 of them would have been guard and me. A clothes and accessory store was waiting to roll out its extravagant items inside big store hole.

With first step inside the store I found jewellery section. I started to explore different jewellery pieces ignoring the ‘more than frequent’ visits of the salesperson and the guard. Contradictorily, the girl who wore beanie to avoid combing was misinterpreted by people to be a jewellery shoplifter. I was inspecting different items and checking prices out when suddenly, my father’s voice popped in my head saying “you like it you take it otherwise move on, don’t delve into it for hours.” So I moved on as I had a long list of reasons for not buying it. Clothing section didn’t intrigue me at all so I moved out to enter shopper’s stop.

Three mannequin placed outside shopper’s stop had only lips painted and thoroughly accessorised. Even though all three didn’t had any expressions on their face but their posture and accurate twists of their heads indicated that they all were aiming high, ignoring triviality(me) which made me feel inferior.

On adjacent wall, a quote saying “what’s the point of make up when you look the same, it’s time to change-shopper’s stop” made me think that may be shopper’s stop provides cosmetic surgeon. However, I entered inside and for the first time I remarked the odd advertising of avoidable products. I found myself in perfume section. An unending sequence of perfume was represented on glass shelves with personal LED installed for each bottle. I was flattered to see humans with hottest features possible, advertising for perfume brands. Believe me, if I were unknown to the concept of perfumes, I would have bought one bottle to sharpen my body features.

While walking around the store, being a critic and cracking jokes to my coffee cup I realized that I was enjoying introspection very much without missing anyone’s company. After leaving perfume section I realized that this store was much more like maze with only 2 entry gates thus one had to cross all the sections to exit. I was in clothing when I started to relate brand’s name to the product displayed. A brand’s named “soch” which in hind means thinking or idea, was offering 50% off on their product and that looked like “soch 50% off”.In one glimpse it gave the idea that designer was 50% thoughtless while designing or 50% of the designer’s ideas were put off while manufacturing. I turned with a wry smile and saw a word in metallic letters reading “stop”. Well, this word has to be there in every store for shopaholic women from husband’s or father’s point of view. But unfortunately, it was another brand’s name.

While searching for the exit gate I found myself in maze’s footwear section. A brand’s name “Bond street” caught my eye and I absolutely picked a pair and hunted for any concealed gadget in it but only disappointment was disguised in it.

After exiting the maze I felt inflation of my chocolate craving. I departed from the high-end hole and walked slightly more than 1 km to reach the only store which stores the specific chocolate I eat. My craving deflated as I saw every chocolate was in stock except mine. Usually, my unsatisfied craving turns me apathetic but this time it was different.

Summing up all the incidents from the new year’s eve my new year definitely was a screw up but long walks with favourite playlist in earphones, excursion cum introspection and a company (coffee cup), who was getting all my jokes made it better.

This new year wasn’t much fun but I learnt a few things- first, it may be hopeless but you can always make it better. Second, never miss any chance to experience, they spark creativity and third--never feel alone… people are always there to judge you.  My other 19 New Years were fun but this was a bit life-affirming.

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