New Year’ eve in the last couple of years had been spent partying the night away on campus. The music was customised to our tastes - A mix of rock, Govinda, Amitabh and the occasional regional number. The dress code was casual which meant everyone turned up in worn-out shorts and t-shirts. The liquor was a shade classier than the ones brewed illegally but just about. My drinking friends all assured me that it was quantity that mattered on student budgets, not quality. Food was never served – if people are anyway going to throw up later on, why bother? All in all, none of us really knew what happened at classy, stylish, expensive parties. And after six months of working in Bombay, my roommate R and me badly wanted to know.
We had already realised that Bombay had very sophisticated people. People who dressed well or atleast could wear skimpy clothes without looking uncomfortable. People who spent lots of money on pretentious restaurants, serving meagre quantities of food. People who lined up for an hour outside places where they had to pay to just enter. If there were a city where we could go for a ‘happening’ New Year’s eve party, this would be it.
R and I convinced enough people to go with us. Then we started to look for a suitable place. This proved to be a problem, as getting entry seemed to be by virtue of knowing someone who knew someone else who knew someone who could get us passes. Finally, the day dawned when our option boiled down to the Catholic Club in Bandra. Clearly no models would be going there, but we could probably get a free midnight mass for our money’s worth. And just when we had almost given up, a friend confirmed that he could get us passes to the Naval Club. Finally we knew someone who knew someone who knew someone who could get us passes!
We knew nothing about the Naval Club except that it charges hefty sums for civilian entry and insists that the real men wear jackets. This news created protest in the male half of our gang who threatened to boycott. The thought of actually having a bath and shaving on a holiday was unbearable enough without having to be stuffed into clothes too stiff and heavy. R was given the job of convincing the guys that a suit would obviously suit their suave personalities and make them the centre of attraction. When this did not work (possibly because of the bad pun) she just gave them a sound scolding, pointing to the fact that her entire New Year’s eve would be ruined just because her friends refused to wear a jacket for ten minutes when they entered the place. R is very good at doing this type of emotional blackmailing and as always managed to save the day.
D-Day arrived. All the guys were wearing jackets and looking newly scrubbed. The women had managed to do some work on their wardrobes too. In all our finery, we tramped to the Kandivili local train station. Since our house was too far away from the Naval Club to go by cab this seemed the sensible option. Till that point. Whether they were going to impress the Naval club crowd or not, the guys in their blazers were definitely impressing the Kandivili crowd. There was no one else in jackets for miles and miles around and even the normally indifferent Bombay crowd began to stare at them. The guys in turn stared at R who completely ignored the murderous looks knowing it was in the greater cause of making her happy.
And finally Naval Club. When you have been waiting for something expectantly for three weeks, you more or less know that the actual affair is going to be a letdown. Whoever had suggested the place had forgotten to mention that the only Page 3 it would get covered in would be that of the Monthly Naval Newsletter with captions like ‘Colonel and wife win best dancing couple’. True the clothes, food, drink, practically everything was about ten times better than our parties of previous years. But somehow, standing on a packed floor with a hundred other strangers and dancing to music which would never allow you to break into a jatka every once in a while brought back a wave of nostalgia for the campus parties. So finally, a little past midnight, we had all had enough of our ‘happening’ party and tallied the final position.
Movie stars spotted – 0
Money per head – INR 4000
Ratio of hours spent planning to hours spent in the party – 8:1
I am yet to go for an actually ‘happening’ New Year’s eve party. But somehow looking at the effort that went into this one that may really not happen in a long time.