Back in Bangladesh, decades ago, celebrating New Year (both Bangla and English or Gregorian) had always been a part of my life since I was a young adult. Of course the nature and procedures of celebration differed quite a bit. Bangla New Year was invariably celebrated with a visit to the much anticipated Boishakhi mela (New Year fare) while the English new calendar year was more of a late night event where we often grouped up with friends and families and did loud countdowns. My parents were never much into the New Year celebration; very few parents were at that time to my knowledge. So, it was unlikely that we would have very feisty parties but whatever we did it was good enough to keep me and my siblings occupied and satisfied. I remember one time we had arranged for a small gathering at the flat roof of our three storied building in Dhaka where I had lit up a small fire and barbequed chicken – not an usual event in our lives by any means. It gave us something to talk about for a while.
Since coming to North America many years had come and gone. As a single guy I had allowed several of them to pass quietly. Once I coupled up with Mili, my wife, things had gotten much groovier. New Year parties had become sort of common. However, we only started to have the best of the New Year parties once moving to Toronto and meeting this wonderful group of friends with young kids. Being the most party enthusiast in this particular group, I had arranged almost all of these New Year parties in our house over the years with plenty of plans to keep the kids engaged and entertained – most are the product of my lazy mind.
In 2010 we had gone away to Florida to visit the Disneyland (and other attractions) and obviously did not participate in any New Year’s party. This year we had stayed in Toronto and had planned to host one. Not only my kids but all the kids of our friends had always loved these parties and looked forward to them. Unfortunately though, several of the families from our closely knit group had traveled away for the holidays this year and my New Year’s plan almost seemed unrealizable. However, things just worked out at the end and we had a great party, possibly one of the better ones, with lots of food, fun filled activities, interesting contests and even an impromptu cultural show. Let’s have a quick look at the events of that night.
- A memory test by my fellow ex-cadet sister Nipa, who brought back memories from several decades past by quoting parts of poems or prose that we read or studied in school years. While our senior brother Badal bhai blessed with great memory scored heavily I performed embarrassingly bad with only one correct answer (with pure luck).
- A trick question quiz. This had always been a super hit with the kids. [Check out some examples at the end of this blog]. Prizes were awarded based on score.
- A game of charade where two kids acted out ten different scenarios and all the teams, ten in total, tried to guess and noted their answers down. Later they were marked and prizes were awarded among three top teams.
- The much waited dancing with Hindi music of the four year old son of one of my friend. Unfortunately this took place half past one in the morning and the little guy were almost half asleep. Regardless he insisted on performing and did a great job with the whole audience cheering.
- Several impromptu/partially rehearsed dances of several of the kids present in the party. Traditionally I had always kept it low key so that instead of becoming a rehearsed show it feels like a fun filled family party where everything is imperfect.
- We had food in three different phases (appetizers, main courses, desserts) with every family preparing foods from different parts of the world including Italian, French, German, Chinese, American and of course Indian/Bangladesh.
- I found a simple non-alcoholic (none of us drink alcoholic beverages) cocktail recipe (banana, several types of fresh juices, milk, sugar) from the internet and prepared jug full of it. We started the New Year with a noisy count down and a drink of the delicious cocktail.
- The excitement of all these must have been too much because one of the ladies who often suffer from vertigo jumped up and performed an Indian classical dance. However, she had to retire into reclusiveness later with dizziness.
- I had requested every family to bring some gifts for the other kids. The gift swapping wasn’t planned until much after midnight but by popular demand by the kids (to the point where they threatened to desert the show) the gifts had to be handed over before the New Year countdown. No wonder they screamed at the top of their voices during count down.
- Later, once all our competitive activities had been completed, around 2 AM, we distributed the prizes (each family was requested to bring one for this purpose).
- None! (Okay perhaps me not being able to answer any of the memory questions. I can barely remember what happened yesterday, how could anybody expect me to remember 30-40 year old stuff? Give me a break!)
Some of the Trick Questions
- You live in Toronto. Your best friend lives in Ottawa. Why you have a dog and he has a cat?
- How can Amina be Rina's sister and Rina be Mina's sister but Amina is not Mina's sister?
- What seven-letter word can have hundreds of letters in it?
- A man and his son were in an automobile accident. The man became unconscious on the way to the hospital and the boy was rushed into surgery. The emergency room surgeon said "I can't operate, that's my son!" How is this possible?
- A man says, "Brothers and sisters, have I none, but that man's father is my father's son." Who is he pointing at?
Try them out if you have time.