“Of all sounds of all bells – (bells, the music nearest bordering upon heaven)—most solemn and touching is the peal which rings out the old year,” remarked the eminent English essayist, Charles Lamb. “Solemn and touching” because one complete year comprising of twelve full months is snatched away from our life by Time, the subtle thief of Youth.

It is said that we move towards Death from sunrise to sunset and that Death moves towards us from sunset to sunrise. And we meet Death or Death meets us at one point.

“What is the most surprising phenomenon?” Yaksha asks Yudhisthira in the Mahabharata. And the latter replies: “Every moment death is claiming people. Yet those living conduct themselves in such a fashion as if they were never to die! What is more surprising than this?” William Shakespeare too considered Death as a “necessary end”.

It is no wonder that people everywhere “welcome the coming, speed the parting guest”, as Alexander Pope had put it. People rarely regret their past for they are deeply in love with the present. They are hand in hand with the Arabic poet Omar Khayyam who sang in one of his rubaiyats thus: “Unborn tomorrow, dead is yesterday. Why fret if today be sweet?”

By the time the clock chimes twelve at midnight on New Years’ Eve, all the disciples, followers and fans of Omar Khayyam who have already gathered in restaurants that bubble with life, put the time to their maximum benefit.

On New Year’s Eve, every restaurant sports a gala look, with lots and lots of twinkling and winking bulbs all set for the occasion. Big banners announcing the special menu like Chinese cuisine, Chettinad masala, French Kitchen, Biryani festival and several other more lure the attention of every passer-by, for they display pictures of mouth-watering seafood items ranging from lobster to pomfret. Tulip shaped wine cups with a costly brand of red wine adorns the banners.

To cap them all blow-ups of tantalizing beauties all sparsely dressed ogle at the onlookers. These blow-ups speak volumes to youngsters. Not only a ball dance is awaiting but also a mega-show, the cabaret dance.Life is after all meant for living and every restaurant is packed with men and women – age is no barrier—all very colourfully dressed for the occasion. And at the stroke of twelve, hundreds of balloons burst, crackers voice their quality and the jubilant people shouting ‘Happy New Year” rend the sky.

Hands shake hands. Bodies hug bodies. They twist, gambol and dance as if in frenzy and it is followed by banquets. As their tongues taste cooked flesh punctuated with sips of drinks.

There is no limit to one’s enjoyment as there is no limit to one’s delicious food both for the body and for the mind.

P.RAJA

More In: TAMIL NADU | NATIONAL