The countdown had begun. My husband and I were at a secluded table in a cosy corner of Fiesta - our all-time favourite restaurant. Tito's across the street had a dj on something stronger than a fizzy cola - that's for sure. The sky over Baga beach started exploding with the most amazing fireworks fifteen minutes before midnight. At Fiesta, the lovely lady (Yellow) who runs it along with her dashing husband Manek, was making sure all their guests were well looked after. The crowd was friendly but discreet (THANK THE GOOD LORD! Hate having to be jolly with a bunch of boors at the next table only because it is New Year's eve), as the owners personally supervised dessert orders and made sure everybody's glasses were full. It was so very civilised, I almost forgot we were in rowdy, rambunctious Goa. But then again, Goa was a fortress that night, with sand bagged security at every corner, commandos in combat gear, jeep patrols along the beach and plainclothesmen trying hard to melt into the crowd. It was nothing short of a war zone.This is one strip in the world that has been impossible to access over the years.... but that last night of 2008, we strolled across at a leisurely pace without anybody's elbow digging into our sides. The crowds were thin ..... even for Prem Joshua who was playing live at a lounge bar down the road. All the big parties stood cancelled, as people preferred quieter evenings with close friends.
We focussed on our exceptional food (the goat cheese was just the best I've ever eaten)... and each other. At midnight, the Tito's dj went insane... and so did all the revellers partying on the streets. For a few brief seconds it was possible to obliterate the horrors of the year just past and stay with the magical moment. Why not?? I have always believed in starting the year on a positive note, shedding as much of the previous year's baggage as possible. It was no different this year.... as we spoke to all our children (mission successful, despite jammed networks), I thanked God for the mercies shown. Just a few hours earlier, we had gone to another old haunt, The Taj Village, with a one point agenda - to meet Chef Rego and offer our condolences. He had lost his young son ( a trainee at the Mumbai Taj) during the terror attacks. No words can possibly console a grieving father.... we hugged Rego. The silent tears said it all.
New Year's day is meant to be upbeat and positive - somehow it sets the tone for the rest of the year. Last year, I was uncharacteristically down..... pensive and gloomy. Perhaps my heart was telling me something.... it was a foreboding I ignored. Paradoxically enough, 2009 has begun on a wonderful note..... I'm feeling absurdly happy. I hope so are all of you!!! Let's make it a terrific year on all fronts. Like Obama emphasised - " Yes... we can!" We must. We owe it to ourselves... and the rest of the world.