And it’s not about the ball drop…
We decide to give the 113-year-long tradition a pass. Times Square gets flooded with thousands of people who stand for hours together in the cold (this New Year’s eve it was -10 degrees Celsius outside) to catch a glimpse of the ball drop. On TV, watching the many faces look up towards the ball, as the clock strikes midnight, does give goosebumps, but in the words of my friends who have attended it, “It’s too cold, crowded, with no place to even pee.” So instead, we decide to hole up at a friend’s apartment in Secaucus, six miles from Times Square.
The plan is to watch the New Year’s eve fireworks from the 29th floor of another friend’s apartment in New Port, Jersey City, overlooking the Hudson river. But we still have six hours to midnight.
The Allagash White bottles drain empty, as each of us tries our hand at Beer Pong. Punjabi songs blare on TV, meanwhile two in the group start jamming Tamil songs on Ukelele and guitar. The conversations dribble from college stories to best breakfast spots in NYC. Every one hour, coats and shoes are put on for a smoke break in finger-numbing temperature outside. The conversations grow deeper, the expressions shift from animated to ghostly-blank and eventually, everyone is staring at Woodkid’s ‘Iron’ for a good 30 minutes.
It’s time to head out. Two cars, one destination. Zeppelin Hall Beer Garden teems with people, all laughing with a sense of abandon. The DJ belts out the best party numbers of 2017, more beer appears on table, this time with fries. No one can hear anyone. So everyone watches the proceedings at Times Square on TV. Fifteen minutes to midnight. Someone is reminded of fireworks.
The elevator to the 29th floor seems unusually slow. Are we going to miss the fireworks? Three minutes more, says a media person on TV. We realise there is a lag. The best option is to keep our gaze fixed on the NY skyline, at the highs and lows of Hudson towers, the Empire State, Chrysler building, and the small vertical gap of night sky above Times Square. A yellow dotted line appears, and then a few more like a leak in a pipe. Kisses and hugs are exchanged, and our eyes again wistfully graze the NY skyline expecting some mind-blowing pyrotechnics. But the thin lines continue their vain attempt to reach the sky, and after a few minutes surrender. The sky is again restored with its bunch of stars.
Back in the couch, glasses filled with white wine are handed, along with plates of hot biryani. And before we know it, we have spent close to three hours playing Jackbox games Drawful and Fibbage. The time is 6.45 am, and as the light from the first dawn of 2018 soaks us, a few book their first cab of the year back home, the rest of us tuck ourselves in and dive into our first sleep of the year.