The year is dying in the night

The year has died. Coffined and buried. Or may be for some, it will never be buried. Or buried after some time.
Two thousand twelve is finally here. Even though the government had snatched Hurriyat’s calendars for the year 2012 early on, they couldn’t stop the year from coming in. And finally it is here, albeit a snowless one in Srinagar. I spent the New Year reclining. Resting. Reading on Wikipedia how they recite Lord Alfred Tennyson’s ‘Ring Out, Wild Bells’ every year on New Year’s Eve in Sweden.  And thinking how appropriate a poem it is for such an occasion.

Ring out the old, ring in the new, 
Ring, happy bells, across the snow: 
The year is going, let him go; 
Ring out the false, ring in the true.

In Kashmir, we don’t have any New Year traditions for the one which begins on January 1. And of course we don’t have any ‘national’ New Year celebrations – thankfully. But there is some kind of hullaballoo every year in Gulmarg – one which I have never visited. But the Indian media and the tourism department do surely make a big deal of it. Some folks tell me there were almost fifty thousand people there this year, many of whom couldn’t find a roof over their heads and spent the night in tents and cars. Of course, for the tourists who couldn’t join the throng over there, hotels in Srinagar make up for the missing noise by parties. From what I have heard the parties are mostly for debauch bureaucrats and college students to get drunk and shout. I reckon some people consider that to be an auspicious start to a year.

Ring out the grief that saps the mind, 
For those that here we see no more, 
Ring out the feud of rich and poor, 
Ring in redress to all mankind.

An eight year old kid, who had gone to Gulmarg to see the New Year set in, brought back with him memories of a man (eight year olds cannot differentiate between tourists and locals) who was swinging a green bottle and shouting “happy new year”.  And of men whirling their pherans and yelling happy New Year. Gulmarg also had fireworks, Sydney and Taipei inspired perhaps, and Omar Abdullah (the Chief Minister and son of party president Farooq Abdullah – ‘party’, of course, is for NC). 

Ring out false pride in place and blood, 
The civic slander and the spite; 
Ring in the love of truth and right, 
Ring in the common love of good

Ring out old shapes of foul disease, 
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold; 
Ring out the thousand wars of old, 
Ring in the thousand years of peace.

I never was much game for New Year resolutions. I don’t think we need to start changing with each year beginning. One can adopt the good when one wants. If at all, one wants, that is. You don’t need to get drunk on New Year’s Eve and then decide to quit from thereon. I don’t think resolutions work that way. And by the way, it’s Kashmir. Resolutions don’t work here anyways.

But we can always hope.

The larger heart, the kindlier hand; 
Ring out the darkness of the land,

So how did you spend your New Year’s Eve? And yes, Happy New Year to those who believe in such greetings.

Lines of poetry are from Lord Tennyson’s “Ring Out, Wild Bells”.

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Author: Rich Autumns

Blogger from Kashmir. Twitter: @RichAutumns

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