The legendary ball drops at New York City’s Time Square, the Sydney Opera House is all lit up from fireworks as are the Eiffel Tower and many other landmarks around the world, not to mention the countless non-descript ones. For Dhaka, it is meant to be like any other evening—dark. No, not to be in sync with the not-yet-extinct load shedding, but due to strict no-no’s on practically any partying. In line with the spirit (no pun intended) of the US Prohibition of the 1920s, Dhakaites, in full swing, are on roof tops, cracking fireworks and launching the local version of the space shuttle, aka, the fanush, into the skies of a brand new year. The stroke of midnight is a moment of celebration for S@ifurs, as there is a collective spike of spoken English with millions, in not just Dhaka but around the country, chanting “Happy New Year” in unison.
I will admit that I had a little crowd in my house, all of whom arrived extra promptly at 7:00 pm despite being told not to come before 10:00 pm. For the Tri-State Area, aka, BGB, aka, Baridhara-Gulshan-Banani, is almost sealed off, thus throwing its residence into a New Year’s Eve special bubble inside the already existing bubble.
For the few “outsiders,” it is a breeze “getting in,” as the majority are smart enough to remain in the more happening parts of the city.
So, the new year is ushered in with many a senior Bangladeshi celebrating his birthday on this day, for somewhere in the past and for the sake of convenience of remembering, the birthdays were penned down as January 1. So much so, that many an unsuspecting Non Resident Bangladeshi (NRB) in the US gets a heart attack on January 2 (January 1 is a national holiday there, unlike in the party pooper Bangladesh) when his colleagues throw a surprise birthday party for him. The price to pay for having to live a lie (along with his ‘certificate’ age) for the rest of his life.
Aside from the gifts of the fictitious Bangladeshi birthdays, there are the global new year’s gifts. This year, they come in the form of explosive news of explosions rocking the Middle East, thus throwing the American public into amnesia regarding something called impeachment. If Leo Tolstoy were alive today, he would write his sequel, War Im Peach. The two foe nations play a game of unlucky 13, with Iran identifying13 US targets and POTUS targeting four-fold-fifty-two, one on average per week leading to the 2020 Presidential Elections.
Not to be outdone and fuelled partially by another American, there are explosions in the UK too, and in the eyes of the tabloids, of much greater magnitude, as Prince Harry and Princess Meghan announce their own Brexit from royal duties. In other words, they decide to retire from retirement. Prince Harry is smart, taking an early retirement, after seeing his dad “working” for 67 years without a promotion.
So, important meetings are in motion on both sides of the pond. The US Congress convenes to symbolically cull the powers of a wartime POTUS, while the royal family convenes in the English countryside to decide the fallout from the Yankee yanking the prince away from grandma.
In many ways, the British royal family is like a geometry box—there is a ruler, a compass and sometimes a divider. Prince Harry remains in the UK while Princess Meghan joins the ranks of many a Bangladeshi women in the royal equivalent of Begum Para, Toronto, Canada. At least our non-resident Bangladeshi-Canadian bhabis are much more fortunate, for Princess Meghan has to take up a real job as a voiceover artist for a Disney movie, brought into fruition by Prince Harry hustling the CEO of Disney: “Did you know that my wife is a voiceover artist?” Yes, he actually said that.
And yes, it is indeed a heavy new year, Novocain for the pain, war to forget impeachment, Meghxit to forget Brexit and for us in the developing world, to bear the brunt of every global hiccup.
The writer is a former engineer at Ford & Qualcomm USA, the former CEO of IBM & Nokia Networks Bangladesh turned comedian (by choice), the host of ATN Bangla’s The Naveed Mahbub Show and the founder of Naveed’s Comedy Club. E-mail: Naveed@NaveedMahbub.com