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A Ball of a Party

January 1, 2008

After a brief period at the tail end of the semester, where caffeine intake had hit astronomical levels, sleep had become a phenomenon that could only be dreamt off and the posterior had begun to hurt just by the thought of sitting, it was finally holiday time and a time to plan what to do for New Years.

Ever since I first visited New York City a few months ago, I wanted to attend the famous Ball drop at Time Square on New Year’s Eve, especially since it was going to be exactly a 100 years since the first ever ball dropped to usher in the new year at Times Square.
And so after much ado about nothing, finally five of us Penn Staters reached NYC at noon and immediately made our way to Times Square – 43rd & 7th (43rd street and 7th avenue) – eager to be in time to capture a good view point. It was around 3 pm and we were welcomed by a huge batallion of law enforcers. A few carefully worded questions to one such member revealed that neither back-packs nor alcohol were allowed into the arena. One of my friends was carrying a back-pack inside which were carefully hiding 8 cans of chilled beer. Imagine his despondence when he realised that he would have to throw away the beer inorder to get into the viewing arena. After having carefully deposited 7 cans (he slipped 1 beer under his jacket) into the nearest trash-can, we returned. After being casually frisked we were let into 1 of the many pens that had been created for the event. It was 4 pm and the crowd had already filled up so much that the closest we could get was 47th & 7th. (An hour later and another PSU group informed us their pen as 55th & 7th)
The first one hour we soaked in the bubbling atmosphere around us and the dazzling lights emanating from the video screens sprawled all over the place. But soon it started to get dark and a sharp winter breeze began to make its presence felt amongst us. At 6 pm the 1,212-pound crystal ball was set atop the flagpole on the roof of One Times Square. The show was about to begin.
Apart from pre-recorded music there were a lot of live performances by celebrities I had never heard off. All in all the music was quite a disappointment. Gasolina (Daddy Yankee) and Bring it On (Lenny Kravitz) were the only numbers that were worth shaking a leg to. An announcement claimed that a certain Carrie Underwood was going to be the star of the night and would appear later on in the night.
By around 7 pm I started getting bored and hungry. I looked at my watch a millionth time calculating the time left to midnight, and then re-sunk my face into my jacket in another vain attempt to dodge the cold breeze. Suddenly I noticed a movement to my right and I looked up. A couple clad in black was causing a bit of a stir amongst the group of people next to me. They were cutting across the crowd claiming that they needed to go to their hotel across the street. But as soon as they reached a spot in front of us – which was the best vantage point in the pen – they stopped and started enjoying the show. Smart alecks, I thought as I carefully started checking out the two of them. The guy was short with short hair and looked like an Italian romeo of sorts. The girl was a real looker. Curly black hair let loose, wheatish complexion and large round earings, clad in a black leather jacket and blue denims. After about 15 minutes of clapping and cheering, both of them suddenly decided to try out some moves they well might have planned in their hotel room. Smooching, cuddling, nuzzling, back-bending followed by some more smooching, cuddling and nuzzling. Suddenly I din’t feel cold anymore. All important parts of me began to feel warm as I witnessed this unprecedented display of affection. I carefully started taking mental notes on ‘How to make out’ with a concentration that would augment me better if attained during lectures as well.
The couple continued to lock lips for the next 20 minutes completely oblivious to the crowd around them. Other couples tried to compete by hugging and swaying to the music but they were no match for the fiery couple in front of me. A few disgruntled people suggested on booking them a hotel room. With bated breath I waited for them to mate.. oops… sorry… waited for them to separate. Suddenly the girl opened her eyes and noticed that I was staring at them (lips). I knew she knew (FRIENDS style) I was looking, but I looked on undeterred. I felt my biceps could handle romeo incase a brawl ensued. But the girl instead of unlocking her lips just stepped, swerved and turned; and the guy not too keen on unlocking followed like a pomeranian would follow his master, and before I could say ‘Romeo’ they were lost in the crowd. I heaved a sigh and looked at my watch again.
Four more hours yet to go and finally I decided to give my legs a bit of a rest. I sat down on the road only to realise that the cold surface was beginning to freeze my posterior. I quickly got up and started jogging to keep the warmth flowing through my body. But the more I exherted myself to keep warm, the more I could feel the energy being drained out of me. I realised I had to store my resources. My friends started sipping the one can of beer that they had clandestinely smuggled into the arena. I refrained. I needed hot coffee. I leaned over the railing of the pen and looked up and down the pathway. A line of cops separated me from the nearest coffee shop. I had a good mind to hail one of the cops and suggest him to get a cup of coffee for me. But this was not India.
Three hours and temperature hovering around 0 degrees Celcius. Torture. Time began to drag. My mind for want of something began to wander. The analogy related to the theory of relativity which I had read somewhere in school came to mind, “When a man sits with a pretty girl for an hour, it seems like a minute. But let him sit on a hot stove for a minute and it’s longer than any hour. That’s relativity”. I wanted to write my own analogy, “When a guy watches a couple making out in the cold for an hour, it seems like a minute. But let him stand alone in the cold for a minute, and its longer than any hour”.
My body slowly but surely started to give way. Numbness had started to set in. My legs started to cramp. I sat down once again. All I wanted right then was a warm cup of coffee to keep me going. I began to realise what fortitude and commitment it must be taking our soldiers on the border to endure inclement weather conditions and yet be able to sustain intense levels of alertness for never-ending periods of time.
Gradually the mind too started to lose its ability to maintain sanity. Here we were, 5 of us, after having woken up at 6 am in the morning, travelled 4 hours, walked for 2 hours across half of Manhattan, and then stood for almost 10 hours, just to chant “10, 9, 8….” in chorus with 1 million other spectators at the world’s biggest party. Just for those 10 seconds of glory we spent 1 full day of torture. Is this worth the trouble? I began to lose my sensibility. Was I hallucinating? I looked at my watch again. Half an hour to go. “Hold on Sid, hold on!” I told myself and stood up again. Twists, turns, jiggles, deep breaths; all possible movements that could keep my mind and body in sync for somemore time. 15 minutes, 10 minutes, 5 minutes…
Last 5 minutes… “Imagine” by John Lennon began to play. I let the lyrics sink into the depths of my soul. “Imagine all the people living for today….”
1 minute to go. The countdown began…. 60, 59, 58….. I shouted and jumped with hands high up in the air at every number. Last 10 seconds… 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Fireworks exploded into the dark sky and a great roar of cheer followed from the denizens of Time Square. It was 2008. Finally. The pain emanating from all parts of my body had suddenly disappeared as I pranced up and down yelling and shrieking “Happy New Year!!!” And then I felt it. I felt that it WAS truly worth the experience. Because I realised that our lifes too follow a similar pattern? We struggle the whole day wondering whether at the end of the day was it worth the effort. What did I gain? We work our asses off the whole year, just so that we get that 10% hike in our salaries. We wake up every morning hoping that today will be the day when our fortunes will take a turn for the better. There are times when we are totally down and out, defeated. We perform at the best of our ability and still meet with failure. We want to do something else but can’t because we are check-mated by that conspirator called Fate. When we feel so vulnerable that all we wish for is a miracle. Some quirk of fate that will set the die rolling in our favour…
But as they say, “Fortune favours the brave.” So heres to a Brave 2008. Wishing all of you a Happy and a Joyous New Year. Success to all your dreams, goals and endeavours. Keep the faith!!!
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