NEW DELHI: The final countdown to the brand New Year might stretch a second longer, but unlike the gloomy end to last year owing to the tsunami tragedy the Capital this time round was in a mood to celebrate.
With markets in New Delhi all dressed up to welcome eager shoppers moving around carrying huge bags, restaurants crowded with people and five-star hotels decked up to welcome revellers, Delhiites were out in strength on Saturday evening to ring in 2006 with a dash of enthusiasm.
While Khan Market had lights strung all over and still retained a little of its Christmas spirit with tinsel and holly outside shops, posh markets like Greater Kailash N-Block certainly had numbers on their side, if not very much colour.
Street corners across the Capital had bright flowers waiting to be sold as a "perfect" gift for last-minute party decorations. While they made a pretty picture for passers-by, for sellers the colourful sea of flowers was far from a happy sight. "This time round people are not really buying flowers. It has not been a good year-end in terms of sales. Last year people had a low-key celebration because of tsunami, but this time they are just not spending money on flowers,'' rued a shopkeeper.
A warm sunny end to a year -- a rare event in Delhi with rain being a constant ingredient at most year-end parties -- the ordinary folk's New Year's Eve hangout, Connaught Place, was crowded since morning. And in the evening, revellers walked around eating ice-cream in freezing December.
Lit up for the occasion, Janpath and the graceful pillared corridors of Connaught Place were full of children holding colourful balloons, wearing funny hats and blowing shiny horns to welcome the New Year.
Breaking the boundaries of class for once, both the brand-conscious shopper and the buyers of cheap fakes had a family day out on the last day of December. With toddlers hanging on to their parents and children dressed in bright blue jeans looking proudly at their new purchase, it was a chance to spend a lazy day catching up with forgotten pleasures.