New Delhi : Farmhouse bashes, galas at five-star hotels, intimate family gatherings…residents of the Indian capital partied every which way to usher in the New Year, the coldest in five years.
Unlike in previous years, the spirit of celebration was slightly different at the close of 2007 Monday night. Delhi chose to play it safe and a tad low-key though the clubs, discotheques and party venues were packed.
The 40 special squads of Delhi Police that patrolled the capital throughout Dec 31 till early Tuesday to keep tipplers in check did not report any major incident, though a few people were detained in the outskirts for driving under the influence of alcohol.
Delhi Metro mounted a special vigil and closed a key line early. Connaught Place in the heart of the capital imposed curbs on traffic and regulated the flow during peak party hours.
“We were worried that post-party fatigue, coupled with alcohol, could take a toll on drivers,” said a senior Delhi traffic police officer. Studies show that though driver fatigue is the most “underestimated” in accident statistics, it is responsible for 20-24 percent of fatal car crashes.
Fears aside, New Delhi partied hard even as the temperature dipped to 2.6 degrees Celsius.
Farm houses in Mehrauli and Chattarpur, along the Gurgaon-Delhi road, lived up to their partying reputation. For the fist time, women bartenders were flown in from Mumbai to serve liquor in two parties at Mehrauli after the Supreme Court gave the green light to women to “toss drinks at liquor counters in bars and private parties”.
Many Page 3 persons attending a bash thrown by event manager and fashion choreographer Liza Varma and her husband at their Mehrauli farmhouse gave it a star rating.
“She throws New Year’s Eve parties every year. The fact that she is a fashion designer makes her parties elegant, special and intimate. Only the best-known people in the capital are invited to it,” said businessman V.N. Dalmia.
The parties hosted by Deepak Pahwa, Bry-Air chairman, at his bungalow in Civil Lines was also a big draw. “They are usually open house affairs with bands, drinks, dinner and an invitee list of 100,” Dalmia said.
The proceeds from the party hosted by the Delhi Round Table (also known as the Delhi Action Forum), an influential lobby of businessmen, will go to charity.
The capital, however, missed its charismatic host A.D. Singh, known for his bashes. He was celebrating in Goa.
Most of these parties grossed a tab of half a million to a million rupees, including bands, drinks, catering and entertainment. However, there were some moneybags who spent over Rs.5 million on their theme parties at the Sainik Farms and in the estates of Jaunapur on Delhi’s outskirts.
There were hot parties at two hotels – Le Meridien and The Intercontinental. The Napoleon and Eau bars at Le Meridien featured live performances by musician Krishna from Mumbai and a group of six ballet dancers from Finland. The venues were packed to capacity despite the price tags of Rs.5,000-8,000 per couple.
At The Intercontinental hotel, party-hoppers were bowled over by the themes. “This is wonderful,” said a couple, employees of multinational software companies in Gurgaon. By 9 p.m., The Vogue, the Chinese eatery at the hotel, was full for its theme party called “Gateway to Heaven”. Entry cost Rs.5,555.
The Grill, another restaurant at The Intercontinental, had romance as its theme, at Rs.22,222 per couple. “We served a four-course continental dinner and Dom Perignon champagne,” a senior hotel official said.
The eateries on Pandara Road were full and the clubs in Noida featuring shows by live bands overflowed. “It’s because the cover charge is a reasonable Rs.2,000,” said an undergraduate student of St. Stephen’s College, who was partying with classmates at Noida Monday night.
The party colours were different this New Year’s Eve. Pink, fuchsia and blue replaced black as more women were spotted sporting pretty spring shades. Men stuck to formal Western wear, while the younger lot flaunted branded T-shirts, denims and heavy jackets.
“Actually, it was not all that stiff-upper lip as far as the dress code is concerned,” said a diner at The Intercontinental.
Many people chose to stay at home. “I usually stay at home on these special occasions and try to make my little parties as intimate as possible,” said fashion designer Jatin Kochar, who spent his New Year’s Eve with family and a few close friends.
“The party scene in the capital is going out of control. There is so much of money being spent but something is missing – the personal touch,” he felt.
For the homebodies, lifestyle and entertainment channels on television offered more than plenty. Yearenders, recaps, Bollywood rewinds and special New Year’s capsules – there was a lot to smile about.