Tuesday, January 02, 2007

New Year' Eve at Times Square

It is probably one of the most famous events in the world and is a must-see for most of the year-end tourists in the country. But this was an event which none of my New York colleagues were eager to visit.

New Year's Eve at Times Square means getting jostled and hustled, pushed and shoved among the loud and crazy, drunk and hazy crowds who are just out to have 'fun'. Plus it invariably means, standing for long hours on end in the midst of a sea of humanity with no food or water and little shield from the elements. And yeah, like they never fail to mention, no restroom breaks ! All that makes the prospect of going to Times Square on the last evening of the year pretty unattractive.

Well, the curiosity and the excitement of being a part of the celebration just overwhelmed my pragmatism this year. And there I was, on New Year's Eve, trying to get ahead of the endless throngs of people so that I could get onto Broadway.

Ah, I should have known. It was six hours still to go for the New Year but 42nd Street/Times Square was closed to the revelers. Why? Because, there already were too many !

So, on we (me and a friend) trooped uptown all the way and for a moment, I even thought that I'd end up celebrating my New Year in Central Park. :) Well, it almost happened too. Just four streets before CP, we were finally allowed to get onto Broadway and now, with thousands in front of us, we needed to figure out a way to get back to TS.

Well, after two hours of hustle and bustle (and plenty of ops of getting hurtled), we finally ended up on 55th Street. After getting stuck on the same spot for more than an hour, those thirteen streets seemed light-years away. Plus there was little to look around. Other than the crowds, of course, who were getting more and more restless by the minute. Times Square, the ball-dropping ceremony, the rock shows and what-not...well, there wasn't a clue whether anything was going on, as we were still quite some distance away.

After what seemed like ages, we had to move out and seemed destined to head back and catch the ball-dropping ceremony on our TV sets. Well, that definitely seemed to be a sensible option now. But then, we were there for the New Year and we had to catch it somehow.

And that we did. A couple of typically desi-ish moves and whoa, all of a sudden, we were right in front of Times Square. Of course, it wasn't so fast. :) By the time we reached there, the last half an hour before the New Year had begun. And then, started the celebration and the fun.

Balloons, pom poms, confetti, pyrotechnics, music and a million of your closest friends. This is something that you simply can't be prepared for. There is a buzz in the air, and the whole place throbs with excitement. So much that you simply forget about all the waiting and the standing that you've done so far.

As the clock passes 11-59 and the ball begins its minute-long journey downwards, every single person joins in, in the Countdown. And there are more than a million out there. As the clock strikes twelve, more than 3 tons of confetti rain down on you making it all one big party for mankind.

And the cheer brings about different responses from people. The romantics just kiss each other in delight, the loonies dance away to new heights, the kids exult at the sights and even the sapped souls would want to stay up all night. The happiness out there is contagious, the exhilaration palpable and the experience quite ethereal.

New Year's Eve at Times Square is simply a once-in-a-lifetime experience. If for nothing else, just to see a million people in the New Year with joy and delight in their hearts.

Happy New Year !


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